Saturday, July 30, 2011

Youth engagement in the City of Toronto

Anika Tabovaradan, thank you for your brave and strong words.  What an amazing display of youth engagement and empowerment!

Anika made a deputation, at 2am, during Toronto City Council's marathon public consultation.

Watch the video and read and about this impressive 14 year-old here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Next PLE Team Meeting - Tuesday August 9

 Hi everyone.  The next PLE Team Meeting is Tuesday August 9 at 5:30pm at the JFCY office at 415 Yonge St, suite 1203.  New members are always welcome.  For more info you can call JFCY at 416.920.1633.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

DEGRASSI - Legal issues in the "Dangerous Minds" episodes

The popular teen TV show Degrassi addresses issues that are relevant to Canadian youth.  From time-to-time on this blog we will be exploring some of the legal issues that come up in Degrassi episodes.

In episodes 1101 and 1102, called “Dangerous Minds”, Drew finds himself entangled in some very serious legal issues and decides to turn himself in to the police. While standing on the school yard with his girlfriend Bianca, Drew sees his friend Dave Turner get dropped off by his police officer father.  Drew heads over the Officer Turner’s cruiser and makes a confession to Officer Turner.  The scene ends with Drew being driven away in the cop car. 

To watch the episode click HERE

When thinking about the legal issues in the Dangerous Minds episodes, here are a couple of things to remember:

1)      Drew has the right to speak to a lawyer before talking to the police, even if he willingly turned himself in.  JFCY would strongly recommend that he speak to a lawyer before talking to the police.
2)      Since Drew is under age 18, he is entitled to have a parent present during the police questioning, even if he willingly turned himself in.
3)      Anything that Drew says to the police can later be used in court.
4)      If Drew is charged with a crime, he will be dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which sets out a court system for youth that is separate from adults.
5)      For more info, check out this JFCY pamphlet:

(Images taken from

Friday, July 22, 2011

MANY thanks to Bagel Time at 415 Yonge Street

JFCY and the Public Legal Education Team would like to thank Bagel Time, who generously allowed us to film one of our key scenes in their coffee shop.

The nice men at Bagel Time keep the workers in the office tower at 415 Yonge Street well-fed.  You can find more about Bagel Time here:

We also want to thank Homer of Paragon Security for acting in one of our scenes.  He is the real security guard at 415 Yonge Street.   Yay Homer!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

JFCY Youtube Filming Day - Sana'

Hi, my name is Sana' and that was basically my first line as a narrator. :) I got involved in this "motion picture" because my sister, Chalak, works at JFCY and recommended that I volunteer because I really love Acting and Drama. Originally I was an extra and a friend of mine was supposed to be the narrator (a.k.a. STAR) but he couldn't make it and I have to admit that I'm a bit glad because doing all of this has been a lot of fun. This whole thing has been an amazing experience for me. :)

And please give a lot more respect to the actors you see on TV because filming is not easy and there are a lot of takes and bloopers, trust me, I know now. :$

If you like drama, acting or just need volunteer hours get involved with JFCY and their projects because it's a lot of fun getting to know different people, experiences new things and all the free pizza you can eat! (please don't only come for the food though, ;]

JFCY Youtube Filming Day - Nhai

I'm Nhai and i'm from Northern Secondary School, going to Rosedale Heights School of the Arts in September. I'm in grade 10 now and I got into the JFCY from an email connection. Being here on the set has been fun, watching people and being part of the video blog. Hope you can come and help us and teach youth about law and justice.

JFCY Youtube Filming Day - Pany

Hi, my name is Pany.  This is my first blog that I've ever written and I am very excited.  I am currently in grade 11 going into grade 12 in September.  I go to Central Technical School. I am involved in a program at my school called the LAWS program.  This program offers many exciting things such as law related classes, a higher knowledge of law and law summer job.  My summer job this year is at Justice for Children and Youth.  I work full time on weekdays for the month of July.  When working I was asked if I would like to participate in a youtube video that was being made, it's about civil recovery demand letters.  I am at the office right now, on set, we are starting to film for the video, and I am very excited.  I am very happy to be part of this committee, and i'm hoping that more people will volunteer for this opportunity.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wizarding Law 101

Blogpost by JFCY volunteer Bilal Manji (McGill undergrad)

With the final instalment of the Harry Potter saga hitting theatres this past weekend, Potterites worldwide bid farewell to a hero they have come to love for more than a decade. Quidditch, patronuses, the Cruciatus Curse, Platform 9 and 3/4 – all elements of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, have captivated children and adults alike since the release of the first book in 1997. In Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter finds himself Undesirable No. 1, a fugitive of the law, as the government of the wizarding world has been taken over by the evil Lord Voldemort. This is not the first time that Harry has found himself at odds with Wizarding Law. Let’s explore the Potter legal system in more detail - what are its main tenets, is it comprehensive and what are its flaws? 

The source of all laws in the Wizarding World is the government, the Ministry of Magic. The Ministry is officially an arm of the British government, although the British government has no jurisdiction in the Ministry’s affairs.  The Ministry was established in the latter 17th century by the International Confederation of Wizards. Prior to the formation of the Ministry, persecution of wizards was growing fiercer in the Muggle world. For this reason, in 1692, the Confederation decided that the wizarding world would remove itself from contact with the Muggle world, by passing the International Code of Wizarding Secrecy. The ministries of every country subjected themselves to this Code, and it is perhaps the most important law in the entire wizarding world. 

Harry is subject to the British Ministry of Magic, which is headquartered in an underground facility in London. Every nation has its own Ministry of Magic or equivalent. The Ministry of Magic is headed by the elected Minister of Magic (presently Kingsley Shacklebolt).  The Ministry is composed of at least seven departments.  There is no separate legislative body; the wizarding world seems to follow an administrative law system with most of the laws coming in the form of regulations from the various departments. For example, the Muggle Protection Act was partially written by Arthur Weasley as the head of the Improper Use of Magic Office.

In both the Chamber of Secrets and Order of the Phoenix, an underage Harry performs magic in the presence of a Muggle. In doing so, he violates both the Statute of Secrecy and the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery (1875). Harry is issued a written warning for Mafalda Hopkirk of the Improper Use of Magic Office in the Chamber of Secrets. However, since his offence is more serious in the Order of the Phoenix (releasing a patronus to protect his Muggle cousin from Dementors), he is ordered to appear before a formal hearing at Wizengamot (Wizarding Court).
The High Court of wizarding Britain is known as the Wizengamot, which consists of a panel of wizards and witches (collectively known as the Wizengamot or sometimes the Council of Magical Law). This panel presides during trials in one of the courtrooms on Level 10 of the Ministry of Magic. It is not known if lower courts exist and the Wizengamot constitutes a sort of Supreme Court, or if this is the only court system. It seems like the latter is the case, as the Wizengamot summon Harry directly for a hearing. The Wizengamot Charter of Rights grants the accused the right to call witnesses and be represented by another person, although the books do not mention any lawyers. 

The Wizarding World also seems to have a fairly sophisticated punishment system. In terms of dealing with underage wizards that conduct magic, a written warning is issued for first offences. A second offence results in the expulsion of the wizard from school, the destruction of his wand, and the wizard is no longer allowed to use magic. More serious crimes result in imprisonment in Azkaban, which is guarded by Dementors. An even more severe punishment is the Dementor’s Kiss. Sirius Black was sentenced to this punishment without the benefit of a trial. In a Dementor’s Kiss, a Dementor clamps its jaw on the mouth of the victim and sucks out his soul.

We have reviewed the main tenets of Wizarding Law – the government, some important laws, the Winzengamot and punishment. The legal system is full of loopholes, is at times both corrupt and incompetent and there seems to be a complete disregard for due process. Thankfully for us Muggles, our legal system is more comprehensive!  Check out the scene from the Order of the Phoenix of Harry’s trailer at Wizengamot here!

That's Mine: personal property and leaving home

Youth leave home for a variety of reasons: Sometimes youth are kicked out by their parent(s), other times they may leave because of abuse, neglect, or excessive conflict. Sometimes they would just rather live somewhere else. It is a stressful time for everyone involved...and things can get even more stressful when youth try and get some of their belongings back from their parents. 

Regardless of the reason you have left home, you have the right to the return of your belongings. This includes your clothing, books and I.D.

Comic by JFCY volunteer Adrianna

There are many legal issues involved when youth are leaving home, including various age-based legal rights and responsibilities. For more information, please see the JFCY pamphlet called "Leaving Home":

Friday, July 15, 2011

Public nudity - the cure for summer heat?

Blog post by Bianca (Summer law student at JFCY)

Currently, section 174 of the Criminal Code prohibits nudity in a public place, or exposing yourself to the public in a private place. But this may not necessarily be the case for long. If Brian Coldin gets his way, we just might start seeing more people walking around in their birthday suits.

On July 5th, Coldin, a self-proclaimed nudist, appeared in court (with six naturists there to support him) to answer criminal charges under the previously mentioned section, after appearing naked at a Tim Hortons and A&W in Bracebridge, Ontario.

Employees at Tim Hortons and A&W testified that seeing his genitals made them feel uncomfortable, while some cried when explaining the situation to the court. However, not only did his lawyers refute the charges by saying that Coldin was wearing a towel at the time, they also argued that the laws are unconstitutional and violate one’s right to freedom of expression. Coldin said that “it’s about rights and the abuse of freedom of a person and their expression…It doesn’t mean the fear that rampant naked people running all over the place is going to take place.”

The case will resume on September 28th, at which date the judge will rule on the constitutionality of the nudity laws and whether Coldin is in fact guilty.

What are your thoughts on public nudity? Should it be a criminal offence, or do you view it as a harmless act that doesn’t require punishment?

Recent news articles on public nudity: 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Acting your age: Borrowed and "Fake" I.D.

Blog post by volunteers Jenny Li (Grade 12) and Daniel Lo (U of T law student)

Eric’s Story

Spotting a local restaurant pub, Eric and his friends decided to grab a seat and order some wings. While waiting for their food to arrive, one of Eric's friends, James, says, "Let's get some beer!" Eric is hesitant because none of them are of legal drinking age but all his friends are jostling each other enthusiastically saying. "Ya! Let's have some fun!...Come on, everyone else is drinking! They'll never know...we look old enough!" All of sudden, James says to Eric, "Hey, didn't you just borrow your cousin's ID? You guys look alike...go order some beer from the bar!" 

Feeling the pressure from his friends, Eric gets up nervously and approaches the bar. He has never ordered beer before and looks around nervously as he asks the bartender for a pitcher of beer. Sceptical, the bartender asks Eric for identification. Eric pulls out his cousin's driver’s license and hands it over. The bartender inspects it cautiously and asks Eric for his address and date of birth. "Uh..May 24, 1991...and um..." replies Eric, unable to repeat the correct address. Instantly, the bartender realizes that the ID is borrowed, hands it back to Eric and calls the restaurant manager owner over. Eric stands frozen to the spot, not knowing what to do or what the repercussions will be. 

What are the possible legal consequences?

Eric may be charged under section 361 of the Criminal Code of Canada for False Pretences. In this situation, Eric represented himself as the cousin knowing clearly that he is not, and made this representation with the intent to deceive in order to convince the bartender that he is of age to purchase alcohol. The restaurant owner may give Eric a warning and let him off, remove him from the bar, and/or call the police. 

If the restaurant owner calls the police, he can hold you at the restaurant (however not forcibly) until the police arrive. 

The police may consider other options other than charges when faced with a youth presenting false ID, such as giving a warning, caution or referral to community programming. But they can also charge you and make you attend court. 

Eric’s cousin could also get charged, if he gave Eric the ID knowing that he would use it to try and get alcohol while under age.  

Using “fake” IDs (where you have your photo, name and address on a manufactured card with a false birthdate) can also get you charged if you use them to try and get alcohol while under age. 

An Ontario law called the Liquor License Act says that people under age 19 are not allowed to have, drink or purchase alcohol. It is also illegal for someone to provide alcohol to people under age 19.  However, there is an exception in that parents are permitted to give alcohol to their own under-age children at home under parental supervision, without them or the kids being charged.  That is the only situation where it would be legal for someone to supply alcohol to a minor and legal for the minor to consume alcohol. 

It is never legal for a bartender to provide alcohol to a minor.   If there are reasonable grounds to believe someone is buying for a minor, the Liquor Licence Act gives the bartender the right and responsibility to refuse the sale.

Both individual people and corporations (ie bars) can be charged under the Liquor License Act and made to appear in Provincial Offences Court.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sexual assault in the world of dating

Blog post by volunteers Josh (U of T undergrad student) and Bianca (law student)

Meet Annie: a normal 16-year old girl. She is smart, pretty, and well liked by both her peers and teachers.  And when popular jock Scott Herring asked her out, she agreed. She was nervous because she had never dated before, but was excited because Scott was very cute.

It was a Saturday evening. After promising her parents that she would return home by curfew, Scott, a senior, picked her up in his Honda Civic and drove them to a local drive-in theatre.

Upon arriving at the theatre, they found themselves surrounded by a sea of cars- and in each car a coupled pair. As the credits rolled and the movie began, Scott with his arm wrapped around her, urged her towards his body. “Let’s snuggle,” he suggested. Obliging, though awkwardly, she leaned her head on his shoulders as she had watched the heroine of the movie do the same. Yet while the heroine expressed love and happy feelings, all Annie felt was discomfort and fear.

Scott, however, had something else on his mind and with his arms still wrapped around her, began to slowly inch his hand downwards and towards her breast. He began to grope her. Annie distraught by the invasion of privacy said “Stop!” as she tried to ply his hands away. Scott continued to grope and feel.

“No!” Annie yelled, now trying to push him back so she could make a move for the door. Scott shoved her back down, gripped her firmly. Eventually, she yelled at the very top of her lungs until Scott let go and Annie ran out of the car.

What are the legal issues in this scenario?

Sexual Assault
In such a situation, Scott may be charged with sexual assault and made to attend court. In order for him to be found guilty, it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Scott engaged in a sexual act without Annie’s consent, and intended to do so.

Consent means that a person agreed voluntarily to take part in the act. If one does not voluntarily agree, then there is no consent.

Even if one starts to take part in the sexual activity, they can decide afterwards that they don’t want to continue, meaning that there is no longer consent. After they communicate that they no longer consent, the other person(s) must stop immediately.

In Annie’s case, she yelled ‘no’ and tried to push Scott away, making it clear that she did not consent to any sexual activity with Scott. Disagreement to take part in a sexual act can be established by a person’s words or actions, or both.

Annie`s Rights
Anniehas every right to talk to the police and report the crime. The earlier you report the crime, the higher the chance that the police will be able to find relevant evidence.

The police will usually ask the victim to provide a statement and answer questions as to what happened before they investigate. If there is enough evidence, the police will produce a report recommending charges.

After going to the police, the victim has the right to receive regular updates from the police about their case and ask for special measures so they do not have to see the defendant if they are intimidated or vulnerable.

It is very common for a person in who goes through such an experience to experience a variety of different emotions, such as embarrassment, anger or shame. But a person in Annie’s situation should know that she or he is not alone as there are a variety of resources available to help deal with their feelings and offer advice:

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Assaulted Women’s Helpline: (416)863-0511, outside GTA: 1-866-863-0511
Justice for Children and Youth: (416) 920-1633, 1-866-999-5329 (outside GTA)

Scott`s Rights
Because Scott is under age 18, he must be dealt with under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He has the right to have his parent present when being questioned by the police.  He has the right to a lawyer.  He has the right to silence.

For more information on charges and procedure under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, check out these resources:

If you are young person in Ontario and you need a lawyer to represent you, call Legal Aid Ontario: (416)598-0200, 1-800-668-8258 (outside GTA), or Justice for Children and Youth (416) 920-1633, 1-866-999-5329 (outside GTA)

 For further reading on issues relating to sexual assault and youth, see these links:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Calling all youth (12-18) for a fun VIDEO PROJECT!

Calling all youth (12-18) for a fun VIDEO PROJECT!

Justice for Children & Youth needs your help! If you are between the ages of 12 to 18, we would love for you to be part of our video project about Civil Recovery Letters. The purpose of the video will be to educate youth about civil recovery letters and the final product will be shown on Youtube and on our blog. 

The shoot will take place at the JFCY offices on July 19th from 2pm to 6:30pm. Food and refreshments will be provided. Your involvement in this project can also be used towards your 40 hours of community service. 

For more information call 416.920.1633 and ask to speak with Andrea.

Tracy Chen, JFCY Volunteer