Two Alberta Perpetuities Stories

By: Nigel Bankes

PDF Version: Two Alberta Perpetuities Stories

Matters Commented On: Bill 8, Justice Statutes Amendment Act and Gottlob Schmidt’s donation to the province of Antelope Provincial Park

This post covers two matters. The first is the amendment to the Perpetuities Act, RSA 2000, c. P – 5 enacted as part of Bill 8, the omnibus Justice Statutes Amendment Act which received third reading on December 9th and Royal Assent on December 17th. The second relates to a story carried in the Calgary Herald about Gottlob Schmidt’s generous donation to the province of a block of land for parkland purposes.

Section 9 of Bill 8, the Justice Statutes Amendment Act provides that

(2) The following is added after section 22 [of the Perpetuities Act]:

Rule against perpetuities not applicable to qualifying environmental trusts

22.1(1) In this section, “qualifying environmental trust” means a qualifying environmental trust as defined in section 1(2)(g.011) of the Alberta Corporate Tax Act.

(2) The rule against perpetuities does not apply to a qualifying environmental trust created after December 31, 2013.

The definition of a qualifying environmental trust (QET) is complex since it involves reference not only to the Alberta Corporate Tax Act, RSA 2000, c.A-15 but also to the QET provisions of the federal Income Tax Act, RSC 1985 (5th supp.), c 1. The basic idea of a QET is that it is a trust that is established to meet reclamation obligations principally in the natural resources sector. This amendment to Alberta’s Perpetuities Act became necessary (or at least desirable) as a result of the National Energy Board’s consideration of the need to make provision for the reclamation obligations of operators of federally regulated pipelines.

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Posted in Environmental, Property | 1 Comment

The Supreme Court’s Other Opportunity to Revisit Adverse Effects Discrimination under the Charter: Taypotat v Taypotat

By: Jennifer Koshan and Jonnette Watson Hamilton

PDF Version: The Supreme Court’s Other Opportunity to Revisit Adverse Effects Discrimination under the Charter: Taypotat v Taypotat

Case Commented On: Taypotat v Taypotat, 2012 FC 1036; rev’d 2013 FCA 192; leave to appeal to SCC granted 2013 CanLII 83791 (SCC)

A few weeks ago we wrote a post on Carter v Canada (Attorney General), 2012 BCSC 886, rev’d 2013 BCCA 435, leave to appeal to SCC granted 2014 CanLII 1206 (SCC), predicting what the Supreme Court might decide on the issue of whether the prohibition against assisted suicide amounts to adverse effects discrimination against people with disabilities, contrary to section 15(1) of the Charter. We mentioned that Carter is one of two adverse effects cases currently before the Supreme Court. This post will consider the second case, Taypotat v Taypotat.

Taypotat concerns a community election code adopted by the Kahkewistahaw First Nation in Saskatchewan to govern elections for the positions of Chief and Band Councillor. The adoption of the code was controversial and took a number of ratification votes, stemming in part from the fact that it restricted eligibility for these elected positions to persons who had at least a Grade 12 education or the equivalent. Although he had previously served as Chief for a total of 27 years, the Kahkewistahaw election code excluded 74 year old Louis Taypotat from standing for election because he did not have a Grade 12 education. He had attended residential school until the age of 14 and had been assessed at a Grade 10 level. His nephew, Sheldon Taypotat, was the only eligible candidate for Chief, and he won the election by acclamation. In an application for judicial review, Louis Taypotat challenged the eligibility provision and the election results under section 15(1) of the Charter.

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Posted in Aboriginal, Constitutional | 1 Comment

Imposing Limits on the Public’s Right to Access Transit Services: Is the Alberta Court of Appeal’s Train of Thought in the Case of R. v. S.A. on the Right Track?

By: Ola Malik and Sarah E. Hamill

PDF Version: Imposing Limits on the Public’s Right to Access Transit Services: Is the Alberta Court of Appeal’s Train of Thought in the Case of R. v. S.A. on the Right Track?

Case Commented On: R. v. S.A., 2014 ABCA 191, leave denied December 11, 2014 (SCC)

The trilogy of decisions in R. v. S.A. discusses the limits that may be placed on the public’s right to access transit services. Initially, S.A.’s Charter arguments succeeded at trial (2011 ABPC 269 (SA (ABPC)), but she lost the subsequent appeal at the Court of Queen’s Bench (2012 ABQB 311 (SA (ABQB)) and, after having been granted leave from that decision to the Court of Appeal (2012 ABCA 323 (SA (leave application)), she ultimately lost at the Court of Appeal (2014 ABCA 191 (SA (ABCA)). On December 11, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal. This decision has been the subject of previous posts on ABlawg here, here, and here.

In R. v. S.A., a thirteen year old girl was issued a Notice Not to Trespass under Alberta’s Trespass to Premises Act, RSA 2000, c T-7 (TPA) after she assaulted another youth at a train station. She was subsequently convicted of that offence. Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) issued the Notice, and banned S.A. from being on any ETS property for a period of 6 months. Although not obvious from the text of the Notice, it could be modified on application by the affected party to allow access to public transit for specified purposes and times, such as to attend school. With the help of a youth worker, S.A. sought, and was granted those modifications for certain hours during the week. S.A. was not ticketed on occasions where she used transit to travel to school, appointments, or for other “legitimate” purposes. She admitted to using ETS property on occasions which were subject to the ban. Several months following the issuance of the Notice, S.A. was found on ETS property and was charged with trespass under the TPA.

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Posted in Constitutional, Municipal Law | Leave a comment

ABlawg: The Year in Review

PDF Version: ABlawg: The Year in Review

It is the time of year for making lists, and at ABlawg we have decided to put together a compilation of our highlights from 2014. It is also the season for the Canadian Law Blog Awards (Clawbies), and we have included a list of some of our favourite blogs as well.

A Series of Series

In 2014 ABlawg ran several series of posts on important judicial decisions and legislative developments in Alberta and Canada more broadly. These series provided an opportunity for the authors to discuss the nuances and impacts of these developments and to share that dialogue with ABlawg readers. Our series covered the following:

  • July / August 2014: Posts by Nigel Bankes, Jennifer Hocking, Jennifer Koshan, Kirk Lambrecht, Q.C., Sharon Mascher, Martin Olszynski, and Jonnette Watson Hamilton on Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44 and Grassy Narrows First Nation v Ontario (Natural Resources), 2014 SCC 48 covered issues including the scope of Aboriginal title, treaty rights, and the duty to consult, and the demise of the interjurisdictional immunity doctrine and the “lands reserved” head of section 91(24) of the Constitution Act 1867. Faculty, students, research associates and guests discussed this commentary and the underlying decisions in a roundtable discussion in July.

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Alberta Introduces Amendments to PIPA

By: Ronaliz Veron

PDF Version: Alberta Introduces Amendments to PIPA

Bill Commented On: Bill 3, Personal Information Amendment Act, 3rd Sess, 28th Leg, Alberta, 2014

On November 15, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada held in Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401, 2013 SCC 62 (AIPC v UFCW) that Personal Information Protection Act, SA 2003, c. P-6.5 (PIPA) and Personal Information Protection Act Regulation, Alta Reg 366/2003 (PIPAR) violated section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as they limited a union’s ability to collect, use, or disclose personal information in a lawful strike (See Linda McKay-Panos’ post on the decision). In oral argument, the Attorney-General of Alberta and the Information and Privacy Commissioner indicated that, if they were unsuccessful, they would prefer to have the entire legislation struck down to allow the legislature to re-consider PIPA as a whole. Acknowledging the comprehensive and integrated structure of PIPA, the Supreme Court declared it invalid but suspended the declaration of invalidity for a year to give the Alberta legislature ample time to make the necessary amendments (AIPC v UFCW at paras 40-41).

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Posted in Labour/Employment, Privacy | Leave a comment

Judicial Economy, Judicial Extravagance and Pension Splitting under a Matrimonial Property Order

By: Jonnette Watson Hamilton

PDF Version: Judicial Economy, Judicial Extravagance and Pension Splitting under a Matrimonial Property Order

Case Commented On: McMorran v Alberta Pension Services Corporation, 2014 ABCA 387

The Court of Appeal decision in McMorran v Alberta Pension Services Corporation determines an instrumentally important question in the pension and matrimonial property law areas. In addition, it is procedurally unusual for two reasons. First, although it is a matrimonial property action, the dispute is really between Justice Robert Graesser, the Court of Queen’s Bench judge who rendered the decision appealed from (McMorran v McMorran, 2013 ABQB 610) and the administrator of the Alberta public service pensions plans, the “appellant” by court order in the Court of Appeal — i.e., not between the former husband and wife who are both “respondents”. Second, the concurring judgment of Justice Thomas Wakeling disagrees with the majority judgment of Justices Ronald Berger and Frans Slatter on one statutory interpretation point, but no consequences appear to flow from that disagreement and the two judgments do not engage with each other on the point. The reasons for two separate judgments are not made explicit, but they appear to be a result of different perspectives on the value of judicial economy. And in these days of legal and public focus on access to justice issues and the need for a “culture shift” in the current legal system, I think it is important to consider whether we can afford judicial extravagance.

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Posted in Access to Justice, Family, Property | Leave a comment

How much discretion does a regulator have to limit the recovery of a utility’s legal costs?

By: Nigel Bankes

PDF Version: How much discretion does a regulator have to limit the recovery of a utility’s legal costs?

Case Commented On: ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd v Alberta (Utilities Commission), 2014 ABCA 397

In this case the Court of Appeal confirmed that the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) has some level of discretion as to the extent to which it allows a regulated utility to recover its prudently incurred legal costs from its customers when that utility participates in hearings called by the AUC to consider generic issues of interest to all regulated utilities and their customers and shareholders. One member of the Court (Justice Peter Martin) thought that the Commission went too far in denying recovery in relation to one set of costs and would have sent that matter back to the Commission.

The decision is interesting because it involves the intersection between an adjudicator’s discretion to allow for the recovery of legal costs and the general principle that a utility ought to have the opportunity to recover all of its prudently incurred operating costs (including the legal costs associated with rate setting) through the tariff approved by the regulator. A decision that recognizes that a utility has prudently incurred certain costs but which then denies the utility even the opportunity to recover those costs will generally be unsupportable: BC Electric Railway Company v Public Utilities Commission, [1960] SCR 837. In this case however there were special considerations and thus while the majority found the Commission’s decision both reasonable and correct, the decision is not likely of broad application – a point that Chief Justice Fraser herself seems to acknowledge at paras 70 – 73. In particular, and notwithstanding other and rather more sweeping statements from the Chief Justice (see, for example para 106, quoted below, and paras 110 – 111), it is not likely that the decision can be applied in the more routine situation in which a utility incurs legal costs as part of preparing and presenting its general rate application (GRA) to the AUC for it to set just and reasonable rates. The AUC may still scrutinize those legal costs on prudence grounds (and see here in particular Justice Martin at para 171) to ensure that the utility is not gold-plating its costs (e.g. where it chooses to retain expensive outside counsel to undertake a task that could be more economically dealt with in-house) but it likely cannot say (even on a reasonableness standard of review) that the legal costs associated with preparing and presenting a GRA are not recoverable.

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Posted in Administrative Law, Energy, Utility Regulation | Leave a comment

Bill 202 v Bill 10: A Battle of the Bills

By: Ronaliz Veron and Sarah Burton

PDF Version: Bill 202 v Bill 10: A Battle of the Bills

Bills Commented On: Bill 202: The Safe and Inclusive Schools Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, 3rd Sess, 28th Leg, Alberta, 2014; Bill 10: An Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights To Protect Our Children, 3rd Sess, 28th Leg, 2014

The Alberta Legislature has been the subject of some controversy in recent weeks. On November 20, Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman introduced Bill 202: The Safe and Inclusive Schools Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, 3rd Sess, 28th Leg, Alberta, 2014. A week later, in an abruptly called press conference, Premier Jim Prentice described Bill 202 as “unnecessarily divisive” and announced that his government would introduce its own bill dealing with the issues raised by Bill 202. On December 1, Bill 10: An Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights To Protect Our Children, 3rd Sess, 28th Leg, 2014 was introduced by the Progressive Conservatives.  After being subjected to widespread public scrutiny, Bill 10 was amended on December 3, 2014. By the next day, it was clear that the amendment did not quell the rising tide of opposition and on December 4, Premier Prentice announced he was deferring Bill 10’s Third Reading until 2015.

This post will examine the salient parts of both Bill 202 and Bill 10 and their impact on the human rights regime in Alberta. It particularly focuses on the heart of the controversy: how the creation of gay-straight alliances is treated under both Bills.  Serious concerns that remain to be addressed by Bill 10 will also be identified. Given Premier Prentice’s apparent willingness to step back to examine his party’s Bill, we can only hope that these pressing concerns will be addressed in the new year.

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Posted in Access to Justice, Human Rights | 3 Comments

A Revised Aboriginal Consultation Direction issued to the Alberta Energy Regulator

By: Giorilyn Bruno and Nigel Bankes

PDF Version: A Revised Aboriginal Consultation Direction issued to the Alberta Energy Regulator

Direction and Decision Commented On: Energy Ministerial Order 105/2014 /  Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Ministerial Order 53/2014; Prosper Petroleum Ltd., 2014 ABAER 013

On October 31, 2014, the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) by Order issued a revised Aboriginal Consultation Direction to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). The main purpose of this Direction is “to ensure that the AER considers and makes decisions in respect of energy applications in a manner that is consistent with the work of the Government of Alberta” in meeting its consultation obligations associated with the existing rights of Aboriginal people (Direction at 2). This is the second Ministerial Order issued under s. 67 of the Responsible Energy Development Act, SA 2012, c R-17.3 (REDA) and it repeals the previous one. In April we posted a blog commenting on the first Order (available here). This post provides an overview of the changes introduced by the new Direction, comments on its scope, and identifies some of the issues that have yet to be addressed.

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Posted in Aboriginal, Energy, Responsible Energy Development Act | Leave a comment

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the Failed Challenge to the Repeal of the Long Gun Registry

By Jennifer Koshan

PDF Version: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the Failed Challenge to the Repeal of the Long Gun Registry

Case Commented On: Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic v. Canada, 2014 ONSC 5140 (CanLII)

Yesterday the University of Calgary marked the 25th National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women with two events: the annual ceremony held by the Women’s Centre, and our own ceremony in the Faculty of Law. Our event involved strong components of both remembrance and action. We recognized the 20th anniversary of the installation of Teresa Posyniak’s beautiful and haunting sculpture “Lest We Forget” in the Faculty. The sculpture honours women who were killed by men, including Aboriginal women, sex trade workers and the 14 women of L’Ecole Polytechnique. Teresa was present to share her reflections on creating the sculpture, the progress we have made on issues of violence against women over the last 20 years, and the work we still have to do. In terms of action, we also heard from Michelle Robinson, a Yellowknife Dene woman who spoke powerfully about the ongoing colonial violence experienced by indigenous women and indigenous peoples in Canada, and of the actions that we can and must all take to respond to this violence. Dean Ian Holloway stressed the importance of hosting the sculpture in our faculty as a reminder to reflect on the meaning of justice.

That brings me to the case I wish to comment upon in this post. Three years ago, I marked the National Day of Remembrance with an ABlawg post inquiring into whether the federal government’s repeal of the long gun registry was a violation of its obligations concerning violence against women. There has now been litigation on that question, and the applicant Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic was unsuccessful in arguing that the repeal violated sections 7 and 15 of the Charter (Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic v. Canada, 2014 ONSC 5140 (CanLII)).

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Posted in Constitutional, Criminal, State Responses to Violence | Leave a comment