Justice Harvey Brownstone – PBSC SupporterPrint
In 1997, Justice Harvey Brownstone stood before a group of University of Toronto faculty and students to raise awareness about a crisis developing in Ontario’s family Courts. The number of unrepresented litigants was growing exponentially after significant cuts to Legal Aid funding. Without new support mechanisms, the future of Ontario’s family justice delivery system looked clogged and bleak. Concerned and inspired by Justice Brownstone’s call to arms, PBSC set to work on a solution, and in 1998, the Family Law Project was piloted in Toronto. The project is now a PBSC flagship program, and Justice Brownstone has been closely involved throughout.
“The improved clarity, accuracy and relevance of documents filed by student-assisted litigants is of enormous benefit in our efforts to provide fairness, efficiency and due process to all litigants.”
Since his arrival at the North Toronto Family Court in 2001 (for 6 years before that he presided in family court in Etobicoke), he’s seen the benefits of student volunteers first-hand. “The improved clarity, accuracy and relevance of documents filed by student-assisted litigants is of enormous benefit in our efforts to provide fairness, efficiency and due process to all litigants,” he says. Along the way, Justice Brownstone has become one of the most recognizable figures in Canadian family law, with a bestselling book, “Tug of War,” and now a popular online TV show, “Family Matters.” He’s seen the emotional and financial carnage that litigation can wreak on families, and through these groundbreaking public education initiatives, Justice Brownstone seeks to provide much-needed information to parents in conflict so that they make informed and child focused choices in resolving their post-separation issues following family breakdown.
With Justice Brownstone’s support, the Family Law Project has become one of the most vital and respected programs serving unrepresented litigants in Ontario. Recently, the project was honoured with prestigious awards from both the 2010 Lexpert Zenith Awards and the 2010 Canadian Pro Bono Awards(for which Justice Brownstone nominated PBSC). As the Family Law Project expands to new law schools and new provinces—including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick—his invaluable support continues to guide PBSC students in their ongoing efforts to assist unrepresented family law litigants across the country. Justice Brownstone will be speaking at PBSC’s 15th Anniversary Celebration in June, 2011, along with Justice Rosalie Abella and Johns Hopkins President – and PBSC founder – Ron Daniels.
For more information on Justice Brownstone’s book, “Tug of War,” visit www.ecwpress.com. For more information about his online TV show, visit www.familymatterstv.com. As of 2010-2011, “Family Matters” will air on 13 independent TV stations throughout Canada.