Blast From The Past: Highlights From The Inaugural UV

Nick Papageorge (1L)

Since 1999, students have gathered in the basement of Falconer to produce U of T Law’s finest newspaper. Ultra Vires has occupied the same subterranean bunker for the last seventeen years—which spans much of a lifetime for many of us—but this one may be the last. The move to Jackman Hall may mean a new home for UV. [Ed. note: turns out we’re staying in the basement.] In honour of what may be the end of a glorious era, here are four excerpts from our September 8, 1999, inaugural publication.

“Faculty Welcomes New Professors” by Carol Wilton

In addition to our first publication, 1999 saw a prolific scholar join the ranks of the Law Faculty. Professor David Schneiderman came to the law school “after a decade as Executive Director of the Centre for Constitutional Studies at the University of Alberta” to teach a comparative and interdisciplinary course on Advanced Constitutional Law. He was also hailed in our pages as the author of books on the Charter, Quebec, police powers, and the black turtleneck lifestyle. (I may have made that last one up.)

“A Summer in Nunavut” by Angus Gran

1999 also witnessed the formation of a new Canadian territory. Law student Angus Grant spent that summer in Nunavut, arriving to the sight of “caribou scampering away from the runway and an alarming amount of snow still on the ground.” Grant went on to the discuss the disparity in unemployment numbers—27% for Inuit people versus less than four per cent for Qallunaaq, or white people—and the stark fact that Nunavut had only one native lawyer, who also happened to be the Premier

This shortage of legal minds meant Grant was “given more responsibility than a summer student should have, [providing] opinions on constitutional references and Federal Court of Appeal Cases” to his employers at Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, which “negotiated the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement on behalf of the Inuit.”

“Flavelle Renovations To Increase Student Space” by Mark Crow

This statement from the architect does not sound outdated: “The purpose will be to provide a new dynamic centre for the Faculty of Law. It will be a central meeting space – a new focal point for the faculty.” There were also timeless student complaints about “the rushed manner in which renovations took place, with little to no student consultation.”

“Judicial Activism” by Linda Melnychuk

Some of us know Justice Lamer best from seeing his name in a casebook, or by Professor Vincent Chiao’s characterization: “Justice Lamer, bless his heart, never met a criminal accused he wasn’t in favour of.” That stance certainly irked some in the legal community during the Lamer court years; critics accused those judges of stepping beyond “their role as restrained, deferential arbiters” and usurping the role of the elected legislature.

Others believed such criticism distracted from substantive discussions about the role of the court; they took issue with the term judicial activism itself, “a ‘mutilated term’ used as an epithet in much the same way that ‘politically correct’ is employed, [which is] to derogate the legitimacy of the ruling.”