Trinity Western University and Some Finer Points of Trans and Intersex Diversity

By: Saul Templeton

PDF Version: Trinity Western University and Some Finer Points of Trans and Intersex Diversity

In the comments to my first post on Trinity Western University, it was suggested that TWU should be given the benefit of the doubt concerning its policy on admitting trans students (or, more accurately, its lack of any policy on this issue). Perhaps TWU simply has not considered whether and if it would admit trans students, and joint submissions could be made to TWU on why it ought to admit trans students.

I appreciate the sincerity of this offer. However, I must respectfully counter that accepting trans students in principle would solve none of the problems with TWU’s Community Covenant. I raised the question of what TWU would do with trans students and applicants in a previous post because there are really two issues here: (1) would TWU accept trans people at all, even if they were married and sexually active with their spouses; and (2) if trans people were accepted at TWU, how could TWU possibly apply the Covenant to trans people in a way that is both logical and in accordance with biblical morality?

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Legal Education | Leave a comment

Constitutional Concerns about Being “In the Company” of a Gang-Affiliate

By: Sarah Burton

PDF Version: Constitutional Concerns about Being “In the Company” of a Gang-Affiliate

Legislation Commented On: Gaming and Liquor Act, RSA 2000, c G-1

Six years ago, the Province of Alberta amended the Gaming and Liquor Act, RSA 2000, c G-1 as part of a broader policy to crack down on gang related activity. Section 69.1 of the Act allows police officers to “exclude or remove from licensed premises any person the police officer believes to be associated with a gang.” Almost immediately, the amendment raised a number of serious constitutional concerns (see here). Political pressure to shut down gangs, however, proved more powerful than any protest from civil libertarians and Charter enthusiasts. Despite the multitude of objections, the amendment came into effect and has been in force since 2009.

Given this history, it strikes me as odd that the provision has never been considered (or even mentioned) in any reported decision. Why is that? Perhaps the law is not being used at all. Maybe persons who resist are being charged under different provisions, or charges are being dropped before trial. It is difficult to fill in the reasons for a gap in judicial consideration, but given the constitutional concerns that were immediately evident, the absence of any case law is a puzzling cause for concern.

This post is intended to circle back on the “gangbuster” amendment to explore what has transpired since its enactment. It also reconsiders and fleshes out questions about the amendment’s constitutionality.

Continue reading

Posted in Constitutional | Leave a comment

Family Justice 3.5: Fostering a Settlement-Oriented Legal Culture

By: John-Paul Boyd

PDF Version: Family Justice 3.5: Fostering a Settlement-Oriented Legal Culture

This is the note on rethinking our approach to family justice that I never thought I’d find myself writing, and as a result I need to begin with an explanation and an apology. In this short post, I describe what I see as lawyers’ duties to promote settlement, to respect informed compromise and to refrain from litigating family law disputes without good and sufficient reason. First, however, I’ll explain the circumstances that have provoked me to write.

I’m involved in a number of the present efforts to reform family justice. In one particular group, I have received a certain amount of kickback when I suggest that lawyers should play a larger role at the front end of family law disputes, in order to steer as many of those disputes away from court as possible. (Well, perhaps not kickback so much as dismay.) I would invariably respond that the early involvement of lawyers would result in the parties receiving an explanation of the law and the range of likely outcomes, thereby minimizing unreasonable positions and moving the parties toward settlement, as I have described elsewhere. Although this struck me as self-evident, it is not.

Continue reading

Posted in Access to Justice, Ethics and the Legal Profession, Family | Leave a comment

What Makes a Law School Great?

By: Alice Woolley

PDF Version: What Makes a Law School Great?

What makes a law school great? What should a law school curriculum seek to accomplish in light of the school’s obligations to its students, its university, the pursuit of knowledge, the profession, and society as a whole? What should a law school strive to be?

Every law school has to answer these questions one way or another, and events of the last few years – the crises of American legal education and Canadian articling, and global and technological shifts in the legal services market – have given them greater urgency.

In this post I want to share our law school’s recent efforts to answer them, and the significant curricular changes we have adopted in our attempt to bring ourselves closer to our standard for a great law school. This is not to suggest that our perspective and approach are the right ones (although I am in no way going to pretend to be neutral given I was Chair (later Co-Chair with Jennifer Koshan) of the committee leading the process). It is simply to put them out there as one law school’s view on what it should strive to be.

Continue reading

Posted in Legal Education | 1 Comment

Trinity Western University: Policing Gender and Requiring LGBTQI+ People to Pay for It

By: Saul Templeton

PDF Version: Trinity Western University: Policing Gender and Requiring LGBTQI+ People to Pay for It

This post is a follow-up to my previous post, Trinity Western University: Your Tax Dollars at Work. The first two parts respond to issues raised in the comments to that post. The first part explains my position on the “irreducible conflict” between freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The second part deals with whether a line can, or should, be drawn between TWU and other religious institutions and charities that discriminate. (Answer: all charities that discriminate on a Charter protected ground should have their charitable status revoked where the discrimination meets the charity law test of actions contrary to public policy). The third and last part explores TWU’s history of exploiting Canada’s charitable tax credit regime.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Legal Education, Tax | Leave a comment

Bringing Environmental Law Students Together: the CAELS Conference in Calgary

By: Jennifer Cox

PDF Version:  Bringing Environmental Law Students Together: the CAELS Conference in Calgary

Conference Commented On: Igniting a Spark, Canadian Association of Environmental Law Societies 2015 Conference, Calgary

While many students travelled or relaxed during February’s reading week, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a group of second and first year students from the University of Calgary’s Environmental Law Society (ELS) who put together the 3rd Annual Canadian Association of Environmental Law Societies (CAELS) Conference. The two-day conference was attended by over 100 delegates from all across Canada and covered a wide array of topics with a focus on energy law.

CAELS is a Canada-wide and student-run association which gives Canadian law students a forum to discuss issues in environmental law. The conference, first held in 2013, is now a major part of this forum. ELS members attended the first two years of the CAELS conference, then held in Ottawa. We were impressed by the quality of the speakers and the discussions at the conference, and started talking about what a Calgary-led CAELS conference could look like. We wanted to bring students excited about environmental, natural resource, and energy law to Calgary to gain exposure to the city’s wealth of knowledge in that area. Led by CAELS Coordinator and second year University of Calgary law student Scott Allen, we were able to achieve that goal.

Continue reading

Posted in Conferences, Environmental | Leave a comment

Where Are We Going on Standard of Review in Alberta?

By: Shaun Fluker

PDF Version: Where Are We Going on Standard of Review in Alberta?

Case Commented On: Edmonton East (Capilano) Shopping Centres Limited v Edmonton (City), 2015 ABCA 85

In Edmonton East (Capilano) Shopping Centres Limited v Edmonton (City) the Court of Appeal has upheld an earlier chambers decision of Associate Chief Justice Rooke to set aside an Edmonton assessment review board decision. This ought to have been a fairly routine administrative law case, however the Court of Appeal chose to engage in the fundamentals of judicial review and purports to add a new exception to the presumption of deference I wrote about early in January 2015 on ABlawg (see Some Thoughts on the Presumption of Deference under the Dunsmuir Framework on Substantive Judicial Review). The Court of Appeal has perhaps also significantly altered the relationship between the superior courts and administrative tribunals in Alberta. I say this because on an initial glance, it is difficult to reconcile the reasoning of the Court of Appeal in this judgment with recent jurisprudence from the Supreme Court of Canada on standard of review generally and the jurisprudence in Alberta which has developed in relation to the Edmonton assessment review board itself. Administrative law scholars and practitioners will no doubt be interested to watch how this unfolds in Alberta.

Continue reading

Posted in Administrative Law, Municipal Law | 1 Comment

Settlement Agreements Can Pose Challenges for Human Rights Commissions

By: Linda McKay-Panos

PDF Version: Settlement Agreements Can Pose Challenges for Human Rights Commissions

Cases Commented On: Buterman v Greater St. Albert Regional School Division No. 29, 2014 AHRC 8; Buterman v Greater St. Albert Regional School Division No. 29, 2015 AHRC 2

It is a well-known principle that one cannot contract out of one’s human rights. For example, one cannot contract or agree to be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace in the future. This does not, however, prevent parties from entering into settlement agreements after a human rights situation has occurred. Respondents and complainants settling claims under the Alberta Human Rights Act, RSA 2000 c A-25.5 (AHRA) agree that no further human rights complaints will be made about the current circumstances, in exchange for receiving money or other remedy. There is a long line of case law in which these settlement agreements have been upheld by the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal or the courts. The leading case that sets out the requirements for upholding a settlement agreement is Chow v Mobil Oil, 1989 ABQB 1026. The Buterman decisions demonstrate some of the access to justice challenges faced by the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the parties when the settlement agreement is at issue.

Jan Buterman is the president of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta (TESA). He wants to encourage all Canadians, including those who are transgender, to understand that transgender Canadians have rights. Buterman is currently working on a campaign to encourage the Senate to withdraw an amendment to a trans*-rights bill that would clarify that “everyone” and “every individual” referenced in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms include transgender people.

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights | Leave a comment

Human Rights and Equality under Attack: The Difficult Challenge Ahead

By: Kathleen Mahoney

PDF Version: Human Rights and Equality under Attack: The Difficult Challenge Ahead

Human rights and equality discourse is under attack in many parts of the world. The assumption that equality is a social ideal has been hijacked, hoodwinked, and misrepresented in even the most advanced human rights jurisdictions. The anti-equality discourse is being led by those with agendas that are not at all commensurate with the promotion and continuance of a human rights culture that has advanced the rights of marginalized people all over the world since the inception of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Errors, distortions and outright lies have tainted the discourse about the purpose and importance of human rights commissions and other implementation tools devised for the realization of human rights and equality (see Pearl Eliadis’s new book, Speaking Out on Human Rights).

What is most startling about the critics of human rights and human rights enforcement is that they are so uninterested in what is really happening. Exacerbating the problem is a biased media. Instead of being neutral reporters and commentators, a substantial portion of the media has become advocate, judge and jury against human rights and human rights machinery (see International Council on Human Rights Policy, Journalism, media and the challenge of human rights reporting (2002)). In Canada for example, the very existence of human rights commissions and some of the protections they offer against discrimination has been seriously debated in the press and in some of the highest political circles, for all the wrong reasons (see e.g. National Post, “A Bit Late for Introspection”).

Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights | Leave a comment

Entitlements Protected by a Property Rule vs Entitlements Protected by a Liability Rule; or FPIC vs Regulated Access

By: Nigel Bankes

PDF Version: Entitlements Protected by a Property Rule vs Entitlements Protected by a Liability Rule; or FPIC vs Regulated Access

Case Commented On: Sproule v Altalink Management Ltd, 2015 ABQB 153

AltaLink is building a transmission line to connect new wind generation in southern Alberta to the grid. The routing and construction of the line was approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission. Part of the line crosses private lands including lands owned by Sproule and the other parties to this appeal, and part crosses Piikani First Nation lands. Altalink reached a negotiated agreement with the Piikani First Nation but was unable to reach an agreement with Sproule et al. Accordingly, Altalink proceeded under the terms of the Surface Rights Act, RSA 2000, c. S-24 (SRA) to obtain right of entry orders and subsequently compensation orders for the different parcels.

Sproule et al appealed the compensation order on two main grounds; only the first is the subject of this post. The first ground of appeal was that the Board had wrongly refused to consider other compensation arrangements in setting the appropriate level of compensation for the Sproule et al lands. In particular, the appellants argued that the Board should have taken into account: (1) the levels of compensation that Sproule received under other agreements for wind turbines and a cell phone tower located on his land, and (2) the amounts received by the Piikani First Nation from Altalink for consenting to the transmission line crossing the Piikani Reserve. There was evidence before the Board that Altalink had been considering two routes for the transmission line, a preferred route that would cross the reserve and a second best route that avoided the reserve. The route across the reserve resulted in savings to Altalink (and ultimately to all consumers in Alberta) of about $30 million. Sproule’s evidence on appeal suggested that the Piikani received about $444,000 per mile under their agreement with Altalink (for a total of $7.45 million) whereas Sproule et al received about $60,000 per mile under the terms of the Board compensation order.

Continue reading

Posted in Aboriginal, Energy | Leave a comment