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Monday, February 22, 2016

Announcing Conference on the Centennial Celebration of the Income Tax Act

Conference on the Centennial Celebration of the Income Tax Act

The Income War Tax Act, 1917 received royal assent on September 20, 1917. Sir Thomas White, the minister of finance who proposed the new tax, thought that Canadians would “cheerfully accept the burden and the sacrifice of this additional taxation” to finance the war effort, but he hoped that the tax would not long outlast the war. He did not get his wish. The income tax has continued and become more and more complex in the 99 years since its inception, and it has not always been cheerfully accepted by the citizens of Canada. However, it is a very important source of revenue for the government, supporting a number of social and other spending programs that citizens have come to expect and rely on.

Osgoode Hall Law School of York University and the Canadian Tax Foundation are planning a special centennial publication to mark the 100th anniversary of the Income Tax Act. To be released on September 17, 2017, this publication will examine the history of the Act and its 100-year evolution, assess its current state of health, and look ahead to how the Act could or should evolve in the next 100 years. Our objective is for the papers in this publication to illuminate readers’ understanding of the Act by tracing the development of some its key principles and their legislative expression.

The authors whose work is appearing in the centennial publication will present and discuss their draft papers at a symposium to be held May 11-12, 2016, in Toronto. Participants in the symposium will be encouraged to provide authors with comments and questions regarding their papers. The symposium will also include sessions featuring prominent observers of and contributors to the evolution of the Act—a range of experts from politics, public policy, tax practice, the judiciary, and academia, who will share their insights into and reflections on the past and future of the ITA. The centennial publication will include proceedings of these sessions. Authors and speakers participating in the event will include the Honourable Michael Wilson, retired Supreme Court Justice Marshall Rothstein, retired Deputy Minister of Finance Michael Horgan, retired Canada Revenue Agency Commissioner William Baker, Brian J. Arnold, Richard Bird, Neil Brooks, Robert Couzin, Jack Mintz and Warren Mitchell.

You may register for this unique event at the following link:

To encourage and enable active participation and discussion among attendees, authors, and speakers, the number of attendees will be limited.  

Friday, February 19, 2016

Osgoode Society News: Titles for 2016 announced, with choice of Members' Book for first time!

It is time to renew your membership in the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. By joining you show your support for the most successful legal history organization in the common law world. 

Join via our website, On the home page, at the top right hand corner, click on BECOME A MEMBER TODAY and follow the instructions.

NEW POLICY for members' book

We are inaugurating a new policy with regard to our members’ book. In 2016 members may choose the book they receive with their membership from one of two books. The two books are:

Lori Chambers, A History of Adoption Law in Ontario, 1921-2015 (University of Toronto Press)

Bradley Miller, Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1914. (University of Toronto Press)

When renewing your membership, or joining for the first time, be sure to indicate what your selection is by checking the appropriate box.

Here is a description of each book.  

Lori Chambers, A History of Adoption Law in Ontario, 1921-2015 (University of Toronto Press). Lori Chambers, Professor at Lakehead University, has written two previous books for the Osgoode Society. Her latest contribution traces the history of adoption law in Ontario from 1921, when the first Adoption Act was passed, to the present. She details the origins and passage of that legislation and then examines a series of legal changes and accompanying controversies, from debates about the meaning of consent by birth mothers to same-sex adoption. Many of these controversies – adoption of aboriginal children, international adoption, secrecy in adoption records - have emerged in the last few decades, and this is therefore very much a ‘modern’ history of adoption law. In analyzing the development of the law Chambers skilfully weaves together statutes and cases with extra-legal debates over the meaning of parental and childrens’ rights.  

Bradley Miller, Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1914. (University of Toronto Press). Bradley Miller, Professor of History at the University of British Columbia, has written the first comprehensive history of cross-border Canadian-American interactions in relation to fugitive criminals, escaped slaves, and refugees. Miller examines the complexity of those interactions, which involved formal legal regimes governed by treaties as well as informal and extra legal phenomena such as abductions and ground-level ‘customary’ co-operation between low-level officials. All of this is set against the background of a developing international law and evolving ideas about extradition in other parts of the British empire.    


This year we are offering two optional extras.

First, members must choose one of the two books discussed above as part of their membership. Whichever one you choose, they may also opt to purchase the other as an ‘optional extra.’

Second, our additional optional extra this year is Law, Debt and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax, by James Muir, Professor of Law and History, University of Alberta, published by the University of Toronto Press. This is a path-breaking study of the every-day work of civil law and civil courts. It examines the type of litigation pursued (mostly debt), how the courts worked, and how the economy operated in a society with very little cash and in which credit was the lifeblood of commerce. Muir employs both quantitative and qualitative analyses of all extant case files and explains how eighteenth-century court procedure worked. He situates his study against the society and economy of Halifax, analyzing who sued who and why and how the legal system fit into patterns of economic relations and activity.

IF YOU WISH TO RECEIVE one or both of the optional extras, please indicate so on the form below if you choose that method of renewing your membership, and you will be billed when it appears. You may also order and pay now for the optional extras on our website when you renew your membership that way.

Thank for very much your interest in, and support of, the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. If you have any questions please email Jim Phillips at

Schneiderman, "Dividing Power in the First and Second British Empires: Revisiting Durham's Imperial Constitution" on SSRN

David Schneiderman of the University of Toronto has posted "Dividing Power in the First and Second British Empires: Revisiting Durham's Imperial Constitution" on SSRN. The article will appear in The Review of Constitutional Studies.


In his Report on the Affairs of British North America, Lord Durham proposed that “internal” government be placed in the hands of the colonists themselves and that a short list of subjects be reserved for Imperial control. Janet Ajzenstat maintains that Durham did not intend to formally restrict the authority of the new colonial legislature by dividing power. This paper argues otherwise: that Durham’s recommendation fell squarely within a tradition of distinguishing between the internal and external affairs of the colony. This was the imprecise but pragmatic distinction that American colonists invoked during the Stamp Act crisis as a means of curtailing imperial authority over internal taxation while maintaining their allegiance to the British Crown. It also was a division that Charles Buller relied upon in a constitution for New South Wales that he proposed prior to sailing to Canada as Durham’s principal secretary. Durham likely was drawing upon this tradition when he made his recommendation, a distinction that began to crumble away almost immediately. In the result, Canadians inherited a robust semblance of self-government, just as colonists during the Stamp Act crisis had desired, but without the need for revolution.

Monday, February 15, 2016

ACDS-CLSA 2016 Roderick A. Macdonald Graduate Student Essay Prize

The inaugural ACDS-CLSA 2016 Roderick A. Macdonald Graduate Student Essay Prize dedicated to the legacy of a well-known Canadian scholar is inviting submissions. Under a generic name, this prize has been awarded annually for the best essay on a topic in law and society written by a graduate student at a Canadian university.

Graduate students at Canadian universities are invited to submit papers in English or French on socio-legal issues, past, present and future. Papers should be approximately 8000 words long and should be submitted in .doc or .docx format.

Papers must be submitted by March 30, 2016 to Josephine Savarese, Chair of the ACDS-CLSA Roderick A. Macdonald Graduate Student Essay Prize Committee.

The prize winner will be announced during the Congress 2016 meetings of the ACDS-CLSA in Calgary, Alberta.

Le Prix Roderick A. Macdonald dédié à la mémoire du renommé professeur 

Pour la première fois en 2016, l’ACDS-CLSA annonce le Prix Roderick A. Macdonald dédié à la mémoire du renommé professeur canadien du même nom et lance une invitation à la soumission de candidatures. Ce prix a été attribué annuellement par le passé sous un nom générique afin de récompenser le meilleur essai sur un sujet portant sur le droit et la société écrit par une étudiante ou un étudiant inscrit aux études supérieures dans une université canadienne.

Les étudiantes et étudiants sont invités à soumettre un essai écrit en anglais ou en français portant sur l’une ou l’autre question passée, présente ou future d’ordre sociolégal. Les essais devraient compter au plus 8000 mots et soumis en format .doc ou .docx.

Les essais doivent être soumis au plus tard le 30 mars 2016 à Josephine Savarese 
(, présidente du comité pour le prix Roderick A. Macdonald de l’ACDS-CLSA pour un essai écrit par une étudiante ou un étudiant aux études supérieures.

La ou le récipiendaire du prix sera annoncé lors de la rencontre de l’ACDS-CLSA qui aura lieu dans le cadre du Congrès 2016 à Calgary, Alberta.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

RIP C. Jane Banfield

I regret to report that there was an obit in the Globe and Mail this morning of relevance to Canadian Legal History. Jane Banfield, retired York University Professor, founder of the York University Law and Society Program and a founding director of the Osgoode Society, died in Vancouver on February 6th.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Addition to Osgoode Society Workshop Schedule, Winter 2016

Please note the following update to the winter schedule for the Osgoode Society Legal History Workshop. 

Professor Blaine Baker will be presenting a paper "MUSINGS AND LULLS OF LATE-EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY CHIEF JUSTICE ‘W.O.’:BARGAINING IN CANADIAN BOOK MARGINALIA ABOUT THE RECEPTION OF IMPERIAL  LAW" to the workshop on Wednesday, February 17th, at 6:30 p.m., room 008 Northrop Frye Hall, Victoria University, U of T. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

New from MQUP: Emery, Principles and Gerrymanders Parliamentary Redistribution of Ridings in Ontario, 1840-1954

New release from McGill-Queen's University Press, Principles and Gerrymanders: Parliamentary Redistribution of Ridings in Ontario, 1840-1954, by George Emery.

The publisher's blurb:

A window on partisan corruption by majority parties in the redistribution of ridings in Ontario.

Principles and GerrymandersRedistributing electoral ridings alters their number, revises their boundaries, or does both at the same time. Ostensibly, the purpose of redistribution is to adjust parliamentary representation for population changes - the growth or decline of population, or shifts in its territorial distribution and social composition. Before an arm's-length commission, headed by a judge, took control of electoral redistribution in the 1960s, parliament - effectively, the majority party - controlled redistribution, raising the possibility that the governing party would adjust the ridings for its own advantage, a practice known as gerrymandering.

Providing detailed analyses of parliamentary redistribution in Ontario that preceded the province’s commissioned ridings of the 1960s, George Emery's Principles and Gerrymanders unravels the mechanisms, operational strategies, and exposure to partisanship of parliamentary redistribution and its influence on general election outcomes. Using quantitative research methods, Emery identifies gerrymanders and demonstrates empirically whether or not these worked. He closes with a discussion of the transition to commissioned ridings, what has changed in redistribution, and what continues from the era when parliament redrew ridings.

Contextualized with detailed maps and political cartoons, Principles and Gerrymanders is a pioneering study and a major contribution to the literature on Canadian and Ontario political history.