Fillmore Riley’s Dayna Steinfeld recipient of Manitoba Bar Association’s 2020 Pro Bono Award
The Manitoba Bar Association (MBA) announced that Dayna Steinfeld will be the recipient of the Public Interest Pro Bono Award for her role in an intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R v Le. This award is given to a member of the MBA who has donated professional time and services to enhance access to public interest legal services in Manitoba.
In R v Le, Dayna acted as legal co-counsel for a coalition, which included Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, Inc., Canada Without Poverty, Canadian Mental Health Association, Manitoba and Winnipeg, and End Homelessness Winnipeg (the “Coalition”). The Appeal was heard on October 12, 2018.
The central issue in the case was whether an invited guest in a friend’s backyard has a reasonable expectation of being secure from uninvited police intrusion. The broader question was whether a privacy interest premised upon control over property can be meaningful for individuals who lack the resources and often the authority to proactively secure their dignity.
The Coalition’s intervention highlighted the importance of recognizing that “everyone” has a protected sphere of privacy that travels with them when they leave their home and even if they do not have a home. It concluded that despite a lack of control over public spaces, a person appearing in public “does not automatically forfeit” their right to privacy.
The Supreme Court of Canada released its decision on R v Le on May 31, 2019, ruling that the evidence found on a racialized man who was detained without reasonable suspicion cannot be used against him in court. Although the case was decided on the issue of Mr. Le’s Charter right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned, both the majority and dissenting reasons include important comments on the reasonable expectation of privacy that are key to the interests of the Coalition.
“Ms. Steinfeld played a central role in the intervention, developing a critical analysis of emerging privacy case law while focusing on the particular risks of vulnerable communities,” the Award citation states.
In addition to her pro bono work in the Le case, Dayna regularly represents clients through a provincial program that provides Independent Counsel to victims of sexual abuse, both minors and adults, where the private records of victims are at issue in criminal trials. In her practice, Dayna also provides advice to employers, employees, service providers, and individuals on human rights issues, including discrimination, accommodation, and harassment matters.
Dayna’s passion for human rights is one of the reasons she went to law school. When Dayna attended the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law, she played a key role in the organization of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s first National Event, and also volunteered with the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund and the University Centre for Human Rights Research. Dayna now teaches an upper-year course on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at the law school.