On the Charter, Freedom of Expression, and Scientific Research

By: Stephen Armstrong

PDF Version: On the Charter, Freedom of Expression, and Scientific Research

Provision Commented On: Section 2(b), Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11

Does section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protect the freedom of scientific research? Is conducting an experiment an expressive act? These are important questions as Canadians face a world increasingly dominated by rapid scientific advancement. Recently, the US Senate and the US National Academy of Sciences have each called for greater research into geoengineering (Committee on Geoengineering Climate, National Research Council, Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration (Washington: 2015, The National Academies Press) at 107). Such measures are the harbingers of an age in which humans are acquiring the capability to control the Earth’s climate the way a sculptor shapes his clay. Against this backdrop, the need for governance of geoengineering research at both the international and national levels is clear. However, any state measures to restrict or regulate research in Canada must conform to the supreme law of the land. In this post, I will explore arguments for and against the protection of scientific research under the free expression guarantee contained in the Charter. While strong criticism against inclusion of research as expression exists, I ultimately conclude that the Charter likely protects freedom of scientific research within the freedom of expression guarantee. Continue reading

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Access to Justice in Criminal Law

By: Alice Woolley

PDF Version: Access to Justice in Criminal Law

Case Commented On: R. v Moodie, 2016 ONSC 3469 (CanLII)

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees everyone the right to retain and instruct counsel on arrest or detention. What do we mean by that? Specifically, do we mean it? Do we mean it for people other than the relatively affluent few?

Canadian governments claim that we do. The vision of Legal Aid Alberta states that it aims for “An Alberta where everyone can access justice and achieve fair and lasting resolutions to their legal issues.” Legal Aid Ontario’s website says that it “provides legal assistance for low-income people”.

Justice Ian Nordheimer isn’t buying it. In a stinging judgment issued on May 26 in R. v. Moodie 2016 ONSC 3469, he stayed charges against Tyrell Moodie pending the provision of state-funded counsel. The charges faced by Mr. Moodie were serious and raised complex legal issues. Justice Nordheimer described the Ontario legal aid guidelines as having no “reasonable relationship to what constitutes poverty in this country” (para 6). Continue reading

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“What Were They Thinking?” Condominiums, Oppressive Conduct and Human Rights

By: Jennifer Koshan

PDF Version: “What Were They Thinking?” Condominiums, Oppressive Conduct and Human Rights

Case commented on: Condominium Corporation No 072 9313 (Trails of Mill Creek) v Schultz, 2016 ABQB 338 (CanLII)

I have commented a couple of times previously on the application of human rights legislation to condominiums (see here and here). In Condominium Corporation No 052 0580 v Alberta (Human Rights Commission), 2016 ABQB 183 (CanLII), Justice Robert Graesser of the Alberta Court Queen’s Bench held that the Alberta Human Rights Act, RSA 2000, c A-25.5 (AHRA), does apply to the relationship between condominium owners and their condominium corporations. There is, however, a caveat. Section 4 of the AHRA protects against discrimination in the context of goods, services and facilities customarily available to the public, but does not list “age” as a protected ground. This means that age discrimination complaints cannot be brought against condominium boards (nor against other service providers or landlords; see section 5 of the AHRA, which excludes age as a protected ground in tenancy relationships). In the condominium context, an alternative remedy exists – section 67 of the Condominium Property Act, RSA 2000, c C-22 (CPA), allows courts to remedy “improper conduct” on the part of condominium corporations, including that which is “oppressive or unfairly prejudicial to or that unfairly disregards the interests of an interested party or a purchaser or a prospective purchaser of a unit” (CPA section 67(1)(a)(v)). The application of this section was at issue in the recent case of Condominium Corporation No 072 9313 (Trails of Mill Creek) v Schultz, 2016 ABQB 338 (CanLII). Continue reading

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From Telecoms to Pipelines: Good News from the Supreme Court of Canada for Pipeline Builders

By: Nigel Bankes

PDF Version: From Telecoms to Pipelines: Good News from the Supreme Court of Canada for Pipeline Builders

Case commented on: Rogers Communications Inc v Châteauguay (City), 2016 SCC 23 (CanLII)

In this decision the Supreme Court of Canada (unanimous in the result) concluded that the actions of the City of Châteauguay in creating a reserve as to certain real property were directed at frustrating Rogers’ efforts to install an antenna system on property located within the City and were therefore unconstitutional as a measure dealing with the siting of telecommunications infrastructure. The majority found that Châteauguay’s notice of reserve was ultra vires (but also went on to offer an analysis that would have rendered the reserve inapplicable on the basis of the doctrine of interjurisdictional immunity (IJI)). The minority (Justice Gascon) preferred to find for Rogers solely on the basis of IJI.

While this is no doubt an important decision for the telecommunications industry it will almost certainly prove to be more important for the more tightly networked elements of the energy sector and in particular oil and gas pipelines given the highly contentious nature of current proposals to construct new pipelines or expand existing pipelines. Continue reading

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Of Busted Butterflies and the Duty of Good Faith – A Saskatchewan Right of First Refusal Case

By: Nigel Bankes

PDF Version: Of Busted Butterflies and the Duty of Good Faith – A Saskatchewan Right of First Refusal Case

Case commented on: Northrock Resources v ExxonMobil Canada Energy, 2016 SKQB 188

What is the legal position if N has a right of first refusal (ROFR) in the event that E agrees to sell its interest, unless E’s sale is to an affiliate; E transfers the interest to its wholly owned affiliate, NSCo and C then buys the shares of NSCo. Does the second transaction or the two transactions taken together (known in tax parlance – for reasons that, as with much of tax law, entirely escape me – as a “busted butterfly” trigger N’s ROFR entitlement (perhaps on the basis that E should not be able to do indirectly what it cannot do directly)? Justice Currie of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench answered in the negative and as a result dismissed Northrock’s (N’s) claims which sounded in both contract and in tort (inducing breach of contract and conspiracy). Continue reading

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Posted in Contracts, Oil & Gas, Torts | 1 Comment