For many of us, this time of year is a time for personal reflection, and pondering what the next year will bring. The theme of “The Law and Christmas” brings to mind the debate around the appropriateness of Christmas in the public sphere within a multicultural society – a debate that we mostly hear coming from the U.S. news commentators, sometimes referred to as the “War on Christmas”. But this year, with Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values, this debate about religion in the public sphere becomes more prominent here in Canada, as well. Any legal debate that considers competing values and protected rights will necessarily raise Charter issues, and understanding the ongoing debate will be helped by a thorough understanding of the approach our courts have taken in deciding these issues.
This article published shortly after the Charter of Values was released asked nine legal experts to comment on whether Quebec’s proposal was constitutional and demonstrates that there is much to debate on this topic. For those who would like to know more about the Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms, there are several excellent resources. This Guide, published by the Ministry of Canadian Heritage explains each section, and provides examples of what these values and rights look like in our society. There is also a Charter decision digest, which provides a crucial foundation to understanding future Charter decisions. It is available on CanLII and provides excellent summaries of case law developing and interpreting each section of the Charter. Also, at the heart of this debate is the question of what secularism means and what a secular society looks like. This guide explains French secularism or “Laïcité”, and includes some additional reading recommendations at the end. This debate asks us all to reflect on both our personal values, and on what we want Canadian society to look like in the future.
Finally, for a little lighter reading, check out the Bodleian Law Library’s series of posts on the Twelve (Legal) Days of Christmas, a classic, and another take on the ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas theme from a family lawyer.
For members of the Alberta Bar, the New Year also brings the requirement to file a new Continuing Professional Development Plan. If you have any specific CPD goals in mind, let us know what they are, and we will work with you to customize a training session for you which you could consider including as a learning activity for the new year. For those of you who are in the Edmonton or Calgary area, this would be a great time to try our Book-a-Librarian service, up to an hour, one-on-one, with a professional librarian, to cover any topic of your choice.
If you are not a Member of the Bar, or you are not able to come into our Calgary or Edmonton locations, send us an email through our ‘Ask a Law Librarian’ service letting us know what you need. Depending on the area of law you are interested in, we can suggest resources from our collection, or we may be able to point you to some excellent online resources, as well. For instance, there are authoritative Canadian blogs on privacy law; immigration law; and law in the workplace. Take a look at the Clawbies (Canadian Law Blog Awards) website for a comprehensive list of law blogs, as well as opinions on the best of the bunch.
Whatever this season may bring for you, all of us at Alberta Law Libraries wish you happiness and health for you and yours!