Recent events at the Faculty

October 2010

DEAN’S BREAKFAST

The ornately carved woodwork above the fireplace in the Faculty of Law's Common Room

The Faculty of Law kicked off Homecoming Weekend (October 1-3) in style, with Dean Daniel Jutras hosting a breakfast event for students, professors and alumni. Against the backdrop of the elaborately carved wood panels in the Faculty’s Common Room, conversations covered subjects from travels to the United Arab Emirates to the eternal relevance of the adages of Professor Stephen Scott – a sample: ‘An eye for an eye’ is not nearly retributive enough. It should be ‘Three eyes for an eye.’

The breakfast was one among a roster of more than 70 events that took place across campus over the weekend; other highlights this year included the unveiling of the Roddick Gates clock and bell tower and a Beatty Memorial Lecture by Nobel Prize Laureate and micro-loan pioneer Muhammad Yunus.

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BIXI BIKES: URBAN PROMISE OR PUBLIC HEALTH PITFALL?

Participants at the panel discuss ethical problem solving for urban transportation dilemmas

By Stefanie Carsley, 4L

On September 29 2010, the McGill Research Group on Health and Law hosted its first interdisciplinary panel entitled: Bixi Bikes: Urban Promise or Public Health Pitfall? Panelists were invited to draw on their respective academic or professional backgrounds to comment on the potential public health implications of Montreal’s Bixi Bike program and to discuss how best to balance the governance of public health with the desire to maintain individual autonomy.

The panelists included: Dr. Philippe Couillard, Former Minister of Health and Social Services for Quebec; Dr. Louis Drouin, Director of Urban Environment and Health, Montreal Public Health Agency; Dr. Carolyn Ells, Associate Professor, McGill Biomedical Ethics Unit; and Dr. Tarek Razek, Chief of Trauma for the MUHC. Moderating the event was Dr. Raphaël Fischler, Director of the McGill School of Urban Planning. Over 60 students, practitioners, professors and other members of the Montreal community were also in attendance.

The panel generated engaging and informative presentations, questions and discussion on a variety of issues and scenarios. Dr. Drouin expressed that changes to the planning and infrastructure of our cities and roads would be the most effective means of ensuring the health and well being of Canadian cyclists. Still, Dr. Razek stressed the importance of helmets for protecting cyclists from head trauma and suggested ways that Bixi could promote their use. Dr. Couillard agreed with Dr. Razek that there should be laws mandating helmet use for children under the age of 18, and explained some of the difficulties associated with trying to implement and enforce mandatory helmet use for all Quebecers. Dr. Ells gave a thoughtful overview of the philosophical and ethical dimensions of concerns that might be raised by different social constituencies affected by an urban planning initiative such as the Bixi Bikes.

Overall, this panel offered an opportunity to consider, within the context of a concrete and immediate project close to home, the ways in which urban planning initiatives designed to promote the environment can affect public health outcomes, and the particular factors that merit attention to ensure that such projects are effectively and justly pursued..

AIR TRANSPORT: WHAT ROUTE TO SUSTAINABILITY?

The McGill Institute of Air and Space Law co-hosted an 248 participants for its international conference on sustainability in the aviation industry on September 26 and 27. Presentations discussed how the financial crisis has affected airlines, how the industry is dealing with carbon emissions, the best security screening procedures and included a special discussion led by World Bank representatives on the state of aviation safety and market liberalization measures in African countries.

International Civil Aviation Organization Secretary General Raymond Benjamin opened the conference by noting that the issue of sustainability is “fundamental to the growth of air transport as we know it,” adding that the aviation industry’s safety record is crucial to this matter.

“If accident rates remain stable, the growth in traffic expected throughout this decade and beyond could lead to one major accident every two weeks,” he said. “This is clearly unacceptable.”

Professor Paul Dempsey, Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) at McGill, closed the conference with a roundtable discussion on how the industry can tackle its revenue, environmental and security challenges that included experts from numerous air transport organizations.

The conference proceedings, including presentation slides, can be found on the IASL website.

CHRISTIE BIKE RIDE

Christie Bike Ride cyclists cross the Jacques Cartier Bridge

More than fifty students, staff and faculty members gathered on September 4 for the second year of the annual Christie Community Bike Ride, cycling through city parks and green spaces, with a brave handful of participants also tackling a 100 km overnight round-trip to the Laurentian town of Prévost.

The event raised $5,300 for Just Solutions, a Montreal organization that provides legal information to people living in poverty, refugees and new immigrants and the ride itself is named for Vancouver lawyer Dugald Christie, who fought to make legal services available to those who could not afford it.

In 2006, Christie began biking across Canada to spread the word about the need for better legal assistance programs; four months into his campaign, he was struck by a van and killed.

“Dugald Christie died in this pursuit,” said 3L Tanya De Mello, who organized the event. “He could have easily made hundreds of thousands of dollars practising law in a big firm, but he believed that it was crucial that disadvantaged people have an opportunity to access the legal system.”

“It is our role as law students and future practitioners to work towards removing these obstacles and we want first year students to know his story as soon as they walk through the Law Faculty’s door.”

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Photos: Lysanne Larose (1, 2). Youri Tessier Stall (3).
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