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Women's Legal Education and Action Fund

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Title: Women's Legal Education and Action Fund  
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Subject: Anti-pornography feminism, Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance, Canadian law, Andrea Dworkin, Feminist views of pornography
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Women's Legal Education and Action Fund

Women's Legal Education and Action Fund
Abbreviation LEAF
Formation 1985
Type Women's legal organization in Canada
Legal status active
Purpose advocate and public voice, educator and network
Headquarters Canada
Region served Canada
Official language English, French

Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, referred to by the Doris Anderson and other women.[2]


To ensure the rights of women and girls in Canada, as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are upheld in courts, human rights commissions and government agencies; and to take actions to reveal how factors such as race, class, Aboriginal status, sexual orientation, ability, and religion compound discrimination against women.


Some of the cases the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund have intervened in proved to be controversial. These include the case of Nicole Patricia Ryan, also known as Nicole Doucet Ryan, who was arrested after attempting to hire an undercover Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer as a hit man to kill her husband. The defense claimed she was under duress do to an abusive relationship in which the RCMP had ignored her requests for help. Neither the RCMP nor the husband was called to testify against her accusations, however both refuted her claims.[3][4]

LEAF’s interventions may impact legal rules both directly and indirectly. Peter Manfredi concludes that the area where legal change made the most significant practical achievement was in the area of abortion rights. LEAF’s defence of the elimination that only hospitals may perform abortions had far-reaching implications for women, with a significant increase in the number of legal abortions performed after 1988.[5] Manfredi footnotes that since LEAF's confusing interventions in the obscenity debate, LEAF experienced two consecutive losses and ponders that it may be too early to tell whether these losses signal a change in the relationship between LEAF and the Supreme Court.[5] LEAF has often suffered other significant losses at the Supreme Court, but it has proved resilient in attracting funding and intervening status at the Supreme Court of Canada.[5] Some have accused LEAF of being “as much about healing wounds within the [lesbian] feminist movement as it [is] about achieving a particular legal objective”.[5]

Mary Eberts controversially represented Beth Symes, another founding LEAF mother in Symes v. Canada, [1993] 4 S.C.R. 695 [6] in which LEAF, while not on the docket, made its presence known through the works cited by the high court.[6] While LEAF never formally represented Symes, its tacit intervention did not prevent the Court's decision in disallowing Symes' child care deductions as business expenses.

Notable interventions


  1. ^ "Women's Legal Education and Action Fund". Women's Legal Education and Action Fund. Retrieved April 13, 2012. 
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  5. ^ a b c d
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^

External links

  • LEAF website
  • From NAACP to LEAF: American Legal Exports to Canada (article by Ian Brodie)
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