Friday, November 03, 2017

Book Notes: Legal histories from Backhouse and Molinaro

UBC Press and the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History last night launched two new books in their hundred-plus series of legal histories.

Constance Backhouse has been working for a decade on a massive biography of Supreme Court of Canada justice Claire L'Heureux-Dubé.  It's a declaredly feminist biography of a judge greatly admired by many -- sensationally criticized by others -- for developing a powerful feminist jurisprudence within Canadian law.

It's a full scale biography, from L'Heureux-Dubé's early years as the only woman lawyer practising in Quebec City, in association with almost the only Jewish lawyer practising there, to her post-retirement involvement in Quebec's reasonable accommodation debates. To complete the work, Backhouse not only conducted 200 interviews and looked at seemingly every possible document, but also mastered French, which seems fairly heroic.

The Society's second book is at least as topical. Dennis Molinaro's findings about the secret archives of security service files that the Canadian government, ah, neglected to deposit with Library and Archives Canada made headlines last year.

An Exceptional Law: Section 98 and the Emergency State, 1919-1936  is the book he was working on when he found and publicised the stash.
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