Decriminalizing Drug Possession with MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith

With over 17,000 Canadians dying of opioid overdose between 2016 and 2020, Canada is facing a national crisis. Provincial projects like supervised consumption sites and free naloxone are failing to address the growing numbers of Canadians dying from tainted drug supply. 

This had led to growing calls for the federal government to decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal use and implement a model similar to Portugal’s approach, which led to an 80% decrease in overdose deaths. 

On this episode, we talk with Member of Parliament Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who has been a prominent voice for decriminalization in the House of Commons. He joins us to discuss his two private members bills, C-235 and C-236, which would decriminalize drugs and encourage the use of diversion methods in drug possession charges, respectively. 

UPDATE:

Soon after this episode was recorded, the federal government announced new legislation on drug possession charges and minimum sentencing, using the diversion elements introduced in C-236. 

Read more here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/justice-reform-drug-treatment-criminal-code-1.5917710 

Production:
Maitland Shaheen – Producer, Host and Editor

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher!

The Rise of Reproductive Justice

With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year and the appointment of an anti-abortion judge in her place, Americans began to fear an overturn of Roe v Wade, the case that secured the right to abortion in the United States. Although the Supreme Courts of both Canada and the U.S. have found a constitutional right to abortion, Canadian politicians and adjudicators seem less interested in re-criminalizing abortion. 

In this episode, we discuss some of the differences in reproductive justice movements in Canada and the U.S., and the benefits of using the reproductive justice framework over previous rights-centered movements. We’ll be joined by Professor Lisa Kelly, who teaches criminal law and evidence at Queen’s Law. She also teaches Queen’s first Sexual & Reproductive Justice course, and studied the topic at Harvard University, Columbia Law School, and the Centre for Reproductive Rights.

Production:
Maitland Shaheen-Akins – Producer, Host and Editor

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher!

Gladue Reports and the Intersectionality of Sentencing

Sentencing occupies an interesting position within legal discourse, being understood as a fundamental step in the legal process yet remaining a mystery to many regarding the considerations that go into such a decision. One specific area of increasing interest in modern times is that of incarceration, specifically how the intersectional aspects of our identity impact the sentencing process. Today on ProBono Radio, with the help of professor Lisa Kerr,  Kevin Kiss aims to break down this complex area of law with specific attention to Indigenous accused. 

Professor Lisa Kerr is currently an assistant professor at Queen’s University specializing in criminal law, sentencing, and prison law. In addition to receiving the SSHRC grant, in 2019, to study fit sentencing for racialized defendants, Professor Kerr also serves as the director of the Criminal Law Group at Queen’s Law. 

Production:
Kevin Kiss – Producer, Host and Editor

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher!

Diving into Sports Arbitration

Arbitration acts as a method of dispute resolution and features prominently in the sports context.  With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the sports industry, the looming possibility of arbitration hearings is only growing larger.  This episode examines ways in which parties could potentially better approach the arbitration process to try to ensure more efficient outcomes and maintain their relationships.

This is examined through:

  • A cost-benefit analysis of the arbitration process
  • The use of statistics by the parties and how to improve their use
  • Maintaining a level of professionalism
  • Psychological biases at play in the process & more!

Production:
Justin Mendonza – Producer, Host and Editor

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher!

Adverse Possession: a Bloodless Coup

One concept that is intriguing under property rights is squatting. Squatting represents a non-economic way for people to parts of their rights. Depending on the applicable laws, a squatter can acquire property rights by simply occupying vacant land for an extended period of time. Today we sit down with Professor Larisa Katz to discuss the concepts of property and adverse possession. Professor Katz explains what is adverse possession, compares it to a bloodless coup and describes how adverse possession could impact everyday citizens.

Professor Larisa Katz currently holds the Canada Research Chair in Private Law Theory. Prior to joining the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto in 2013, Professor Katz clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada, worked in litigation at Sullivan & Cromwell and taught at Queen’s University, Faculty of Law. Professor Katz writes about moral, political and social issues relating to private law generally and property law in particular. Her work has been published in journals such as Yale Law Journal, University of Toronto Law Journal, McGill Law Journal and the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence. Professor Katz also actively works on issues in law and policy in Canada and the United States. She has presented to and consulted for the Department of Justice and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on aboriginal title and the idea of property in law.

Production

Tony Yin – Producer, Host and Editor

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher!

Overcriminalization of HIV Disclosure

The Pro Bono Radio team talks to professor Bill Flanagan about the overcriminalization of HIV disclosure from a public health disclosure — examining the barriers to testing, public health implications, stigma and chilling effects stemming from criminalization, and the “public health imperative” of striking an appropriate balance.

(Note: this episode was recorded during the 2018-19 school year; Bill Flanagan was Dean of Queen’s Law at the time of recording; the current dean at this posting (January 2020) is Mark Walters).

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher!

Indigenous Perspectives of Law School

Indigenous law students at Queen’s Law talk about their experiences as Indigenous students at the law school — both positive and negative — including reconciliation and the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the problematic name of the school’s building, and thoughts on how law schools in general are succeeding, and still challenged, to address the needs of Indigenous students.

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher!

Self-Defense with Professor Noah Weisbord

Is Canada hewing too close to an American ‘stand your ground’ defense philosophy? Professor Noah Weisbord (Queen’s Law; author of The Crime of Aggression: The Quest for Justice in an Age of Drones, Cyberattacks, Insurgents, and Autocrats) and Pro Bono Radio’s Parnian and Luke break down Canadian self defense law, from the Lucky Moose case to Cormier and Stanley, and the shift in Canadian defense law from prioritizing preserving life, to prioritizing property.

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher!

Mandatory Surcharges with Professor Lisa Kerr

The Pro Bono Radio team talks mandatory victim surcharges with professor Lisa Kerr — why were they declared unconstitutional? How did these issues arrive before the Supreme Court, and why was it deemed “cruel and unusual punishment”? The justice system, principles of sentencing, and much more are covered in this episode of Pro Bono Radio!


Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher!

Legal Loopholes with Leo Katz (Penn Law)

Saroosh sits down with Leo Katz of Penn Law to take a deep dive into legal loopholes!

The author of multiple books, Leo takes us through his ambitious theory of loopholes and restrictions — starting from the foundational question of what a loophole actually is and abstracting toward a general account of the creation of loopholes.

The Pro Bono Radio Queen’s team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice! It is, however, created as a project of PBSC Queen’s, itself part of Pro Bono Students Canada… and produced at Queen’s Law.