The CIAJ is dedicated to the better administration of justice in Canada. As part of its mandate, it offers programs to members of the judiciary, administrative tribunals, lawyers and other participants in the justice system.
This conference, The Charter Challenge Conundrum: The Clash of Rights and Values and the Canadian Cultural Mosaic, examined the way public institutions have evolved to reflect the values of inclusiveness, diversity and equality, including an assessment of their shortcomings. It also focused on substantive issues (language, religion, race, culture, etc.) and the complementarity and contradiction between values of diversity and equality. Questions addressed included the effect of the Charter in resolving issues regarding culture and religion.
Different perceptions of cultural or religious issues were explored as well as how the Canadian legal system should continually adapt to take differences into account in addressing and resolving relevant legal issues. These issues play out in several aspects of the administration of justice and are relevant to all actors in the justice system including the police as well as civil and criminal courts and tribunals.
This conference was designed to identify the challenges faced by the justice system, possible solutions and ways in which participants might contribute to improving the current situation. Participants benefited from the multi-disciplinary approach to one of the most complex set of issues facing the Canadian justice system.
Through lectures and panel discussions, the program offered a critical evaluation of diversity in the administration of justice. Lectures covered several aspects of diversity including the scope of, and possible conflicts between, various Charter values, for example relating to religious tolerance and freedom of conscience, the practices of polygamy or arranged marriages.
Members of the faculty included university professors, tribunal members, lawyers and judges.