Osgoode prof says prostitution case is headed for Supreme Court

Sex workers in two provinces are challenging Canada’s solicitation laws in different ways but with a common desire – to work and live with greater dignity, wrote the Pacific Free Press May 5. In the province of Ontario, a Charter of Rights and Freedoms case is well underway and is based out of Toronto. The suit is being handled by well-known activist lawyer Alan Young. As he’s an Osgoode Hall Law School professor, vital case preparatory work is being performed by articling students.

The calendar is marked for Oct. 6, 2009. The Ontario Superior Court is scheduled to hear what’s become of this ongoing constitutional challenge that has the aim to strike down three sections of the Criminal Code. These include: prohibitions on keeping a bawdyhouse, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of prostitution.

According to Young, who’s leading the challenge there: "Bringing this case is of utmost importance because, despite the fact that prostitution is a legal occupation, the current Criminal Code provisions operate to deny sex workers safe legal options for conducting their legal business. Ultimately this fight is destined to go all the way to the Supreme Court."

16 years later, justice and freedom

In Toronto, a similar Innocence Project is run by law students at Osgoode Hall Law School, active since 1987, with Alan Young as director, wrote the Toronto Star May 6 in a story about a wrongfully convicted person in the US. Last year, they helped secure a new trial for Romeo Phillion, convicted of murdering a taxi driver in Ottawa in the ’60s. Three other cases are before review. Noted lawyer for the wrongfully convicted James Lockyer had actual carriage of the case.

"Such groups are popping up all over the place," says Young, of idealistic lawyers-in-training who take on appeals brought forward by felons serving time. "It’s hard to get lawyers to persevere on such matters because it’s just not practical for them and because you’re constantly knocking your head against the wall. But it’s well suited for students.

"It has a bit to do with idealism – this is apple pie and motherhood stuff, getting justice for the wrongfully convicted. But it’s also hard for lawyers to undertake because it means investing a lot of time, many years. That’s not practical for a law firm to sustain."

And, of course, it’s pro bono work.

Young cites studies done in the US that indicate it takes an average of six years to clear the name of a person found guilty on a serious charge, if the supplicant can hook any takers. On average, these exonerated individuals have spent 12 years in prison.

Market risk doesn’t always bring reward, says Milevsky

I believe that your equity allocation should depend much less on your so-called time horizon, hard-to-measure risk aversion or fickle confidence in the stock market, and much more on the composition and structure of your personal balance sheet, wrote Moshe Milevsky, finance professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University in a National Post article on investing strategies May 6.

So, here is the bottom line. The long run can be very long indeed. The financial planning theories we have used to quantify the "probability of regret" from equity investing must be revised after the new statistical evidence we have uncovered during the past year. The potential rewards must be tempered. To loosely paraphrase one of the greatest economists of our time, Professor Paul Samuelson, the long-run case for equities shouldn’t be oversold.

On air

  • Kathy Lundy, coordinator of the Destination Arts Project in York’s Faculty of Education, spoke about how educators are starting to take notice of graphic novels on CBC Radio’s “Here & Now” May 5.
  • Brenda Spotton Visano, professor in York’s Atkinson School of Public Policy & Administration, took part in a panel discussion about corporate and social responsibilities on TVO’s “The Agenda” May 5.