by Vidish Parikh – BLOG 1 – 2022/07/20

As I reflect now, halfway through my internship I realize more than ever that policy and the law can and do benefit from being in dialogue with one another. Working with the federal housing advocate’s team at the Human Rights Commission has been a humbling experience.

During my first week, I had the pleasure of interacting with Canada’s first housing advocate, who echoed similar sentiments.  Law and policy do not exist in a vacuum. Policy makers rely on lawyers and vice versa.

I think what has most stood out to me is the use of words like law and legal by those who are traditionally not lawyers and in this sense outside the formal discipline of law. I came into law school, associate the study of law with lawyers, and the more I interact with those in policy the more I realize housing policy issues while implicating constitutional law, also implicate human rights. Human rights itself is not a term that belongs to any one discipline. The right to housing, for example, is a systemic federal policy issue, one that is (unfortunately) rarely given sufficient sociological treatment and appreciation by courts of law. This does not mean that law does not advance human rights (it does), but only that often times the law itself may not be the appropriate tool alone or at all. Policy and communication shops – groups of policy and communication staff that work in government—are as vital to the study and progression of human rights as constitutional law is, but they are often overlooked.