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Law and Public Policy

D14(a) - Courts and Canadians

Date: Jun 5 | Time: 03:45pm to 05:15pm | Location: SWING 206

Chair/Président/Présidente : Troy Riddell (Guelph University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Troy Riddell (Guelph University)

Measuring Attitudes Towards the Supreme Court of Canada: Erin Crandall (Acadia University), Andrea Lawlor (University of King's College)
Abstract: Public support is a critical component of any court’s institutional legitimacy; however, questions remain regarding the roots and durability of such support. While research concerning public confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court is now well developed and has demonstrated that there is considerable diffuse support for the institution, comparative research on public support for courts remains limited. Using survey data collected in 2015 that explores public attitudes towards the Supreme Court of Canada, this paper will help to fill this gap. The timing of this survey is especially relevant, given the relatively tumultuous relationship between the Canadian Supreme Court and the federal government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2014-15. The possible effects of political controversy on the diffuse and specific for the Supreme Court will therefore be given particular attention.


Tweet Justice: Canadian Courts in the Digital Age: Tamara A Small (University of Guelph), Kate Puddister (University of Guelph)
Abstract: For the past decade, Canadian courts have been grappling with how to integrate digital technologies into court administration. Digital technologies could impact courts in a number of ways, including the use of electronic records, the admissibility of electronic documents and the use of live text-based communication in courts by journalists and the public. In this paper, we explore how the courts, themselves, have embraced social media. A former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria (Australia) once noted that social media present an “exhilarating opportunity for the Courts to tell the public we serve who we are.” On one hand, courts could use social media as just another way to provide already publicly available court materials such as transcripts and daily court listings. On the other hand, courts could actually engage in dialogue with followers on various aspects of the judicial process. Considering that traditionally courts only engage with the public through issuing decisions, both have the capacity to increase access to justice, which is central to fostering public confidence in the judiciary. In the case of the former, court social media provides an opportunity for the public to what experience courts do unmediated by journalists. While the latter offers the capacity to redefining the relationship between courts and the public, thereby extending the principle of open court. This paper will explore the extent which Canadian courts have embraced digital technologies by creating social media accounts and explore how they