Cardinal’s same-sex predictions groundless, says law prof

Legal experts say the predictions by Canada’s top Catholic Cardinal that opponents of same-sex marriage will be prosecuted for publicly denouncing the unions are unfounded, reported The Globe and Mail July 15. “The fact that same-sex marriage is recognized by the state does not change the freedom of speech of those who are opposed to same-sex marriage or oppose homosexuality,” said Osgoode Professor Marilyn Pilkington, the former dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “If someone speaks out against same-sex marriage in a manner that foments hatred, then they run a risk of prosecution. If they speak out against homosexuality in other ways that foment hatred, they run the same risk.”

On Wednesday, Cardinal Marc Ouellet told a Senate committee hearing arguments in the same-sex marriage debate that, once the bill passes, those who oppose it for religious motives will be labelled bigots and homophobes and eventually will risk prosecution. But there have been very few successful hate-crime prosecutions in Canada and they have only occurred in the most serious situations, said Pilkington. And the Criminal Code says the hate-crime law does not apply in cases where the statements made are proved to be true or in cases where they are expressed in good faith or in an attempt to voice an opinion on a religious subject. Anyone speaking against same-sex marriage as a result of their religious beliefs, she said, “would be able to rely not only on that but also on the protection of freedom of religion in the Charter.”

Oilers’ ‘capologist’ uses law training to decode NHL deal

Scott Howson hates the term “capologist,” a position that’s about to become de rigueur in the new NHL reality, reported the Edmonton Journal July 15. So let’s just say the Edmonton Oilers assistant GM will have to know all the ins and outs of the new salary cap. Not to mention all the other salient points in the 600-page collective bargaining agreement which is the centrepiece of the “agreement in principle” announced Wednesday by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association. Nice bedtime reading? It is for Howson, who will be in New York Friday for a crash course on the document. “This is what I went to law school for, to learn about documents and statutes,” Howson said. “It’s no different than learning about the constitution and how it applies to us.” He graduated from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1990 following a brief 18-game NHL stint with the New York Islanders and some good scoring seasons in the minor leagues. Howson, 43, practised corporate law for two years before joining the Oilers organization 11 years ago.

Survey bolsters argument for bill limiting payday-loan interest

In a July 15 editorial about the passage of a private senator’s bill aimed at lowering interest rates for the payday loan industry, the Charlottetown Guardian said Prince Edward Island senator Catherine Callbeck referred to a 2000 study by Iain Ramsay, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, which contains a survey of greater Toronto area residents. According to the study, the cost of borrowing for a seven-day loan ranged from 670 per cent to 1,300 per cent. For a 14-day loan, the cost of borrowing ranged from 335 per cent to 650 per cent.

On air

  • Political scientist Fred Fletcher, of York’s Faculty of Arts, calls Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s current image angry, reported CBC TV’s “The National” July 14 in a news item about Harper’s summer tour flipping hamburgers and serving ice cream around the province. “And I think that angry image frightens a fair number of voters, especially in Ontario. So from a strategic point of view, simply reducing the voltage and appearing more calm and more statesmanlike is important for him,” said Fletcher.
  • Monica Belcourt, director of York’s Graduate Program in Human Resources Management, discussed and answered viewers’ questions on human resource issues, office ethics in light of the Bernie Ebbers conviction, maternity leave and vacation issues, and managing e-mail issues, on ROB-TV’s “Michael Vaughan Live” July 14.