In January 2016, Past President Jayashree Goswami moderated a panel discussion at the Ontario Bar Association on religious attire and the justice system.

Rights and freedoms related to religious attire have recently been debated in headlines across Canada. For example, a Quebec judge’s refusal to hear a woman’s case unless she removed her hijab in the courtroom has sparked condemnation and controversy. The dynamic panel of experts reviewed current case law and lead discussions through interactive case studies around topics like:
– When and where is there currently a prohibition of wearing religious symbols?
– Can your client wear religious attire when testifying in court? Before a tribunal? While citing an oath of citizenship/citizenship ceremonies?
– What have the courts said to date about balancing freedom of religion and access to justice?
– What are the rights of an accused to see his accusor’s face? When do courts say this is essential for a fair trial?
– What are best practices for lawyers in the current context?

Jayashree Goswami, Legal Counsel, Intact Insurance Company
The Honourable Justice Mara B. Greene, Ontario Court of Justice
Silmi Abdullah, M.Ed., JD, Lawyer
Balpreet Singh Boparai, Legal Counsel, World Sikh Organization of Canada
Michael Dineen, Dawe Dineen
Sukanya Pillay, Executive Director and General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

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