Noa Mendelsohn Aviv
Director of Equality Program
Michael Rosenberg, special counsel to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), will be awarded the 2019 Arleen Gross Award for Young Advocates this month – and it is an honour well deserved! This past April, Michael was also awarded the Heather McArthur Memorial Young Lawyers Award.
CCLA is delighted to see the legal community recognize Michael’s legal achievements. Our organization was honoured to support his nomination for both these awards in light of his diligence, tremendous commitment and legal excellence. And we are privileged to have him working with us to support the rights of people in Canada.
Michael, with the support of his firm McCarthy Tétrault, is one of the key lawyers responsible for representing CCLA in a constitutional challenge of the solitary confinement regime in Canada’s federal penitentiaries, together with co-counsel Jonathan Lisus (Lax O’Sullivan). This is no ordinary undertaking.
Michael, Jonathan and their team have spent many months researching, pulling together evidence, engaging with medical, social science and legal materials, and presenting arguments before both the Superior Court of Ontario and the Ontario Court of Appeal – and they and are now addressing motions at the Supreme Court of Canada. Their mission on behalf of CCLA: to challenge provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that permit holding individuals – including vulnerable individuals and individuals who posed no danger – in solitary confinement, without independent oversight, for prolonged and indefinite periods.
Thanks to Michael, Jonathan, Larissa, Charlotte-Anne and others, we were successful in striking down the solitary confinement regime as unconstitutional.
The results have been far-reaching, legally and practically, and numerous proposals and changes have been introduced to ameliorate the brutal practice of solitary confinement, including a bill before Parliament.
Michael’s dedication to the issue goes beyond the courts. He has been outspoken in the media about the case, helping to inform and engage the public about the dangers and harms of solitary confinement. And he has spoken on behalf of the CCLA before the Senate of Canada, and otherwise has supported CCLA’s efforts to push for true legislative reform.