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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Updated: Winter/Spring 2015 Legal History Group Schedule

The winter/spring schedule for the Osgoode Society Legal History Workshop is as follows. Note there is a open slot--anyone interested in presenting should contact Jim Phillips ( Also please let Jim know if you would like to be on the distribution list to receive papers.

Sessions start at 6:30 p.m. Room 304 Victoria College (Old Vic), University of Toronto (St. George Campus.)


Wednesday January 14: Joe Kary, Kary and Kwan: "Judgments Of Peace: An Unorthodox Court For The Orthodox And Not-So-Orthodox Jews Of Montreal, 1923-1973

Wednesday January 28: Open

Wednesday February 11:  Jim Phillips, University of Toronto, "Restrictive Covenants: A Case Study in Nineteenth Century Ontario Legal Reception"

Wednesday February 25:  Douglas Hay, Osgoode Hall Law School,  TBA

Wednesday March 4:  Elsbeth Heaman, McGill University, "“Legal Fictions of Fairness: Corporate Tax Revolt in fin-de siècle Ontario”

Wednesday March 18: Rande Kostal, Western University,  "Constructing the Rule of Law in Occupied Japan, 1945-48"

Wednesday April 1 - Myra Tawfik, University of Windsor, "The Impact of Canada's First Copyright Act (Lower Canada 1832) on Authors, Publishers and Schoolbook Production”

Sangster, "Just Horseplay? Masculinity and Workplace Grievances in Fordist Canada, 1947–70s"

In the Fall 2014 issue of Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, an article by Joan Sangster of Trent University, "Just Horseplay? Masculinity and Workplace Grievances in Fordist Canada, 1947–70s."


This article examines men’s grievances concerning horseplay, profanity, alcohol, and violence, primarily in their legal arbitrated form, as a means of probing the gendered nature of the Fordist system of grievance arbitration. Horseplay grievances, for instance, were infused with ideas about masculinity, with the majority dealing with male-on-male activities, usually among workers. In arbitration discourse, horseplay and violence were naturalized as essentially male behaviour. An examination of these “bad behavior” grievances highlights how the arbitration process was not only shaped profoundly by class but also by gender and, to a lesser extent, ethnocentric ideologies. Gender stereotypes and moralistic assumptions shaped the arguments and outcome of grievance arbitration, and, with each decision, the system became more legalized and bureaucratized, with gender norms firmly embedded in arbitration discourse. While some gender norms changed their form in the post-Fordist workplace, current grievances concerning horseplay indicate some continuity with the past and the persisting equation of working-class masculinity with violence, rough behaviour, and intimidation in the workplace.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Smith, "We didn't want to totally break the law": Industrial Legality, the Pepsi Strike, and Workers' Collective Rights in Canada"

New in the fall 2014 issue of Labour/Le Travail, "We didn't want to totally break the law": Industrial Legality, the Pepsi Strike, and Workers' Collective Rights in Canada" by political scientist Charles W. Smith of the University of Saskatchewan.

Abstract (English)

Canada’s system of industrial legality has routinely limited the collective abilities of workers to strike. Under the conditions of neoliberal globalization, those limitations have intensified. Yet, in 1997, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, waged a successful strike against Pepsi-Cola Canada. In addition to defeating the company, the union also expanded workers’ collective rights through a successful constitutional challenge to restrictive common-law rules limiting secondary picketing. This paper examines the history of that strike, exploring the multifaceted strategies that the workers undertook to challenge the company, the state, and the existing law. It argues that workers were successful because they utilized tactics of civil disobedience to defend their abilities to picket. Recognizing that success, the paper is also critical of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision and its evolution of common-law torts to limit workers’ collective action. The paper concludes by arguing that the Pepsi conflict highlights the importance of civil disobedience in building workers’ movements while emphasizing the inherent limitations of constitutional challenges to further workers’ collective freedoms in Canada. 
Abstract (French):

Le système légal industriel au C anada a systématiquement limité la capacité collective des travailleurs à faire la grève. Dans un contexte de mondialisation néolibérale, ces restrictions se sont intensifiées. Pourtant, en 1997, le Syndicat des employés de gros, de détail et de magasins à rayons (RWDSU) à Saskatoon, en Saskatchewan, a mené une grève couronnée de succès contre Pepsi-Cola Canada. Outre cette défaite de l’entreprise, le syndicat a réussi à modifier le droit commun limitant le piquetage secondaire, grace à une contestation constitutionnelle. Outre la défaite de l’entreprise, le syndicat a également élargi les droits collectifs des travailleurs grâce à une contestation constitutionnelle réussie des règles de droit commun restrictives limitant le piquetage secondaire. Cet article examine l’historique de cette grève, en explorant les stratégies à multiples volets que les travailleurs ont mises en œuvre pour contester l’entreprise, l’état et la loi existante. Il soutient que les travailleurs ont réussi parce qu’ils ont eu recours à des tactiques de désobéissance civile pour défendre leur capacité de faire du piquetage. Reconnaissant ce succès, l’article critique également la décision de la Cour suprême du Canada et la façon dont elle a fait évoluer des délits de droit commun en vue de limiter l’action collective des travailleurs. L’article conclut en affirmant que le conflit Pepsi-Cola fait ressortir l’importance de la désobéissance civile dans l’édification des mouvements de travailleurs, tout en soulignant les limites inhérentes aux contestations constitutionnelles pour faire avancer les libertés collectives des travailleurs et des travailleuses au Canada.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Call for legal history syllabi

Via Joanna Grisinger, LawandHistoryCRN:

At a “Teaching Legal History” session at the Denver meeting of the ASLH last month, someone suggested that we compile an updated bank of legal history syllabi, to make available to our community of teachers and scholars.  I’m following through on that request.  If you teach a legal history course, please send me a copy of your syllabus.  All fields (U.S., non-U.S., ancient, modern) all levels (graduate, undergraduate, law school), and all sorts of courses (introductory surveys, upper-level seminars) happily accepted.   Please send syllabi as e-mail attachments to: John Wertheimer, Davidson College:  When the collection reaches critical mass, I’ll make it available and explain where to find it. 
John Wertheimer
Professor and Interim Chair of History
Davidson College
Davidson, NC 28035-7053
(704) 894-2039