Osgoode Hall Law School Conference Explores “Crimes of the Powerful”

Publication Date

Summer 17-5-2017

Document Type

News Article


A two-day conference at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School later this month, entitled “Revisiting Crimes of the Powerful: A Global Conversation on Capitalism, Corporations and Crime,” will bring together international and multidisciplinary experts on corporate crime to discuss what can be done to stop corporate abuses of power.

The conference – which will take place May 25 and 26, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. in the Moot Court of Osgoode Hall Law School, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto – is hosted by Osgoode’s Jack & Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security.

Corporate crime experts Osgoode Professor Margaret Beare and Steven Bittle, Associate Professor in the University of Ottawa’s Department of Criminology, are the co-organizers of the conference. In collaboration with Laureen Snider, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University, Steve Tombs, Professor of Criminology, Open University and David Whyte, Professor of Socio-legal Studies, University of Liverpool, the organizers received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant to explore issues and solutions to the problems of crimes of the powerful.

The conference will result in a policy paper by the grant recipients that is expected to be of interest to and use by government officials and regulators.

“Scholars at the conference will examine the global neglect of countries to hold corporations to account and the failure of laws to break beyond what is often called the ‘corporate veil’ to reveal the actual beneficial owners of international and national corporations,” Beare said.

In addition to academic speakers, conference participants will include Robert Cribb, one of the Toronto Star’s lead investigators into “The Panama Papers” that documented the ways in which the world’s elite hide their money from public tax coffers. Al Rosen, an investigative forensic accountant and co-author of Easy Prey Investors – Why Broken Safety Nets Threaten Your Wealth, will outline the failures of Canadian lawmakers and regulators to protect Canadian investors from fraudulent schemes and financial manipulations.

The conference will also honour the work of Queen’s University Sociology Professor Frank Pearce whose first book, Crimes of the Powerful, published in 1976, and his third book, Toxic Capitalism Corporate Crime and the Chemical Industry (with Steve Tombs), are Marxist analyses of corporate abuses of power.

“In many ways, the issues that Frank Pearce raised in 1976 are as relevant today as they were 40 years ago – or even more so,” said Beare, noting that the timing of this conference is ideal.

“With the aim of leveraging $35 billion for public-private funded large scale projects, the federal government has announced the creation of an “Infrastructure Bank,” to be housed in Toronto. Past experiences—including the findings of the Quebec Charbonneau Commission– have documented the vulnerabilities of the construction industry to corporate and government crimes and corruption. This infrastructure money will be an extremely attractive funding source for potential crimes of the powerful.”

Pearce will deliver the opening keynote address at 9 a.m. on May 25 on the topic, Crimes of the Powerful – An Enduring Framework.

For the conference program and participants’ list, please visit the conference website.

There is no charge to attend the conference, but registration is required. Kindly RSVP: www.osgoode.yorku.ca/research/rsvp

Osgoode Hall Law School of York University has a rich history of developing Canada’s thought leaders and leading lawyers. Dedicated to the pursuit of new ideas and to the very best of experiential education, Osgoode sets the standards for accessible, relevant and rigorous legal education. Osgoode offers a Juris Doctor (JD) Program, the Graduate Program in Law for research-focused LLM and PhD degrees, as well as professional LLM degrees and non-degree certificates and programs as part of Osgoode Professional Development. Osgoode is home to an outstanding and diverse student body, and an internationally renowned faculty, whose research shapes the public debate. Our commitment to accessibility and inclusion, community engagement and Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, as well as innovative, high-quality research and teaching, animates who we are and what we do.

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni. York U’s fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario’s Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media Contacts: Virginia Corner, Communications Manager, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, 416-736-5820, vcorner@osgoode.yorku.ca Sandra McLean, York University Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 22097, sandramc@yorku.ca