A Remarkable, Plain Language Judgment from the Ontario Court of Justice

By: John-Paul Boyd

PDF Version: A Remarkable, Plain Language Judgment from the Ontario Court of Justice

Case Commented On: R v Armitage, 2015 ONCJ 64 (CanLII)

A few weeks ago, Mr. Justice Nakatsuru of the Ontario Court of Justice released a remarkable judgment in the case of R. v Jesse ArmitageA flood of decisions in criminal matters are released every day, and in that sense Justice Nakatsuru’s sentencing decision in Armitage was not exceptional. What sets the judgment apart are the judge’s decisions to direct his opinion to the offender and to write that opinion entirely in plain language.

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Posted in Access to Justice, Criminal | Leave a comment

A Vexatious Litigant After Only Two Applications

By: Jonnette Watson Hamilton

PDF Version: A Vexatious Litigant After Only Two Applications in One Proceeding

Case Commented On: Re FJR (Dependent Adult), 2015 ABQB 112 (CanLII)

Although the Alberta law giving the courts more power to deal with “vexatious litigants” in a simplified process has only been in effect a little more than five years — since October 30, 2009 — the law is quite well settled. Under section 23.1(1) of the Judicature Act, RSA 2000, c J-2, on application or the court’s own motion, and with notice to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, if a Court is satisfied that a person is instituting vexatious proceedings or is conducting a proceeding in a vexatious manner, then the court may order that the person not commence or continue proceedings without the court’s permission. Section 23(2) provides a non-exclusive list of examples of vexatious proceedings and conduct. These provisions have been considered in approximately 70 cases over the past five years. Recently and helpfully, in Chutskoff v Bonora, 2014 ABQB 389 (CanLII) at paras 80-93, Justice Michalyshyn undertook a comprehensive review of this case law. As a result of all of this consideration, most vexatious litigant proceedings now simply involve application of the established principles to the particular facts of each case. Nonetheless, the occasional new legal issue arises, as it does in Re FJR. This post considers a case in which the person found to be a vexatious litigant had only made two applications, and both of them were made in only one court proceeding.

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Posted in Access to Justice, Civil Procedure and Evidence | 1 Comment

A Case for Adopting the Lewko Approach to Refusal Law

By: Dylan Finlay

PDF Version: A Case for Adopting the Lewko Approach to Refusal Law

Case Commented On: R v Soucy, 2014 ONCJ 497

Obtaining breath samples from those suspected of driving while impaired is a necessary practicality in enforcing impaired driving law. A police officer must have a legal authority to demand that an individual supply a sample of his or her breath, and there must be legal ramifications should that individual decline. Consequently, s. 254(5) of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46 makes it an offence to fail or refuse to comply with a breath demand, without a reasonable excuse. As a criminal offence, s. 254(5)’s necessary elements include both an actus reus and a mens rea. Two deeply divided lines of authority arise from interpreting s. 254(5)’s requisite mens rea, or culpable state of mind.

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The Supreme Court’s New Constitutional Decisions and the Rights of Farm Workers in Alberta

By: Jennifer Koshan

PDF Version: The Supreme Court’s New Constitutional Decisions and the Rights of Farm Workers in Alberta

Cases Commented On: Mounted Police Association of Ontario v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 1 (CanLII); Meredith v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 2 (CanLII); Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC 4 (CanLII); Carter v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5 (CanLII)

As I was saying to my constitutional law students the other day, the first few weeks of 2015 have been remarkable for the sheer number of Charter decisions released by the Supreme Court of Canada, including several that have overturned previous decisions in important ways. Of the eight SCC decisions released to date in 2015, five are major Charter rulings. Several of these decisions have implications for a project on the rights of farm workers that I worked on with a group of constitutional clinical students in the winter of 2014. The students’ posts on the constitutionality of excluding farm workers from labour and employment legislation are available here, here, here and here. In this post, I will outline the impact these recent Charter decisions have on the students’ arguments. In a nutshell, they make the claims of farm workers for legislative protection even stronger, refuting the argument of Premier Jim Prentice that we need “more research and debate” before taking action on these unconstitutional exclusions.

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Posted in Constitutional, Labour/Employment | Leave a comment

Open Letter to Parliament on Bill C-51

Editor’s Note: Several Faculty members signed this letter, the full version of which is available here

An open letter to members of Parliament on Bill C-51

Dear Members of Parliament,

Please accept this collective open letter as an expression of the signatories’ deep concern that Bill C-51 (which the government is calling the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015) is a dangerous piece of legislation in terms of its potential impacts on the rule of law, on constitutionally and internationally protected rights, and on the health of Canada’s democracy.

Beyond that, we note with concern that knowledgeable analysts have made cogent arguments not only that Bill C-51 may turn out to be ineffective in countering terrorism by virtue of what is omitted from the bill, but also that Bill C-51 could actually be counter-productive in that it could easily get in the way of effective policing, intelligence-gathering and prosecutorial activity. In this respect, we wish it to be clear that we are neither “extremists” (as the Prime Minister has recently labelled the Official Opposition for its resistance to Bill C-51) nor dismissive of the real threats to Canadians’ security that government and Parliament have a duty to protect. Rather, we believe that terrorism must be countered in ways that are fully consistent with core values (that include liberty, non-discrimination, and the rule of law), that are evidence-based, and that are likely to be effective.

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Posted in Constitutional, Criminal | 1 Comment

Honour Killings and City Buses – The Limits on Advertising Controversial Messages on Public Transit and the Soon-To-Be-Decided Case of AFDI v The City of Edmonton

By: Ola Malik and Sarah Burton

PDF Version: Honour Killings and City Buses – The Limits on Advertising Controversial Messages on Public Transit and the Soon-To-Be-Decided Case of AFDI v The City of Edmonton

Introduction

Consider these two ads which deal with the subject of honour killings. You are told that the maker of these advertisements, the American Freedom Defence Initiative (“AFDI”) published the ads in order to raise awareness of the subject and to provide support to young girls whose lives are in danger. These ads are similar with the exception of the revisions made to the second ad in italics.

Girls’ Honor Killed by their Families. Is Your Family Threatening you? Is Your Life in Danger? We Can Help: Go to FightforFreedom.us

Muslim Girls’ Honor Killed By Their Families. Is Your Family Threatening You? Is there a Fatwa On your Head? We Can Help: Go to FightforFreedom.us

The second ad has the initials “SIOA”, or “Stop the Islamization of America” added at the bottom.

Advertising for the second ad has been purchased from the Edmonton Transit Service (“ETS”). It will appear in the form of a large panel covering the rear of an Edmonton city bus. AFDI has purchased 5 such ads which will run for 4 weeks.

Do you believe either of these ads constitutes lawful expressive activity such that they are protected by freedom of expression as provided by section 2(b) of the Charter?

What do you make of the second sign? It doesn’t expressly advocate violence or hate, nor is it expressly hateful of the Muslim community. It is a matter of fact that thousands of Muslim girls around the world have been killed in this way.

But is it misleading to suggest that honour killings only happen in the Muslim community and might this expose the Muslim community to vilification and harmful stereotyping by those who don’t know better? Is the logo “Stop the Islamization of America” a laudable aim worthy of protection, or is it simply hateful?

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Posted in Constitutional, Municipal Law | 1 Comment

Lawyers’ Representation, Lawyers’ Regulation and Section 7 of the Charter

By: Alice Woolley

PDF Version: Lawyers’ Representation, Lawyers’ Regulation and Section 7 of the Charter

Case Commented On: Attorney General (Canada) v Federation of Law Societies, 2015 SCC 7

In Attorney General (Canada) v. Federation of Law Societies, 2015 SCC 7 the Supreme Court of Canada precluded the application to lawyers of certain provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, SC 2000, c 17, and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations, SOR/2002?184. The Court held that, as applied to lawyers, those provisions violated s. 7 and s. 8 of the Charter. The violation of s. 8 arose from the provisions’ failure to protect adequately solicitor-client privilege in the context of searches permitted under the legislation. The violation of s. 7 arose because the provisions put lawyers’ liberty at risk and were inconsistent with fundamental justice. Specifically, because of the “conclusion that the search aspects of the scheme inadequately protect solicitor-client privilege” (at para 105) and, for a majority of the Court, because the provisions interfered with a newly articulated principle of fundamental justice: that the state may not impose duties on lawyers that undermine a lawyer’s commitment to her client’s cause. The Court declined to hold that independence of the bar was a principle of fundamental justice.

The conclusion by the majority that fundamental justice prevents improper interference with lawyers’ commitment to their clients is welcome. The rule of law requires legal counsel committed to protecting the ability of clients to enjoy the respect for their dignity and autonomy that the law provides (see my articles setting out this position here and here). The Court’s view of the legislation as unconstitutional also appears warranted; certainly the legislation’s search provisions seem plausibly to permit improper intrusions into privileged documents and information.

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Posted in Constitutional, Ethics and the Legal Profession | Leave a comment

Supreme Court of Canada Strikes Down Ban on Physician Assisted Death

By: Jennifer Koshan

PDF Version: Supreme Court of Canada Strikes Down Ban on Physician Assisted Death

Case Commented On: Carter v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5

In a landmark decision, on February 6, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously struck down the criminal prohibition against physician assisted death (PAD) in Carter v Canada, 2015 SCC 5. By declining to follow its 1993 decision in Rodriguez v British Columbia, 1993 CanLII 75 (SCC), [1993] 3 SCR 519, which had upheld the prohibition, Carter marks the third time in the first few weeks of 2015 that the Court has overruled previous Charter decisions (see also Mounted Police Association of Ontario v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 1 and Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC 4, which will be the subject of a future ABlawg post). In Carter, the Court held that the ban on PAD violates the rights to life, liberty and security of the person contrary to the principles of fundamental justice under section 7 of the Charter, and could not be justified as a reasonable limit under section 1. As predicted, however, the Court declined to deal with the claim that the ban on PAD also violates equality rights contrary to section 15(1) of the Charter.

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The AER and the Values of Efficiency, Flexibility, Transparency and Participation: Best in Class?

By: Nigel Bankes

PDF Version: The AER and the Values of Efficiency, Flexibility, Transparency and Participation: Best in Class?

Matter Commented On: AER Bulletin, 2015-05 and an amendment to the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules creating the concept of a “Subsurface Order”

On February 10, 2015 the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) issued Bulletin 2015-05 announcing a change to the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules. This change authorizes the AER to issue something called a Subsurface Order:

11.104 Notwithstanding sections 3.050, 3.051, 3.060, 4.021, 4.030, 4.040, 7.025, 10.060, 11.010, 11.102 and 11.145, if the Regulator is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so, the Regulator may, on its own motion, issue a subsurface order that

(a) designates a zone in a specific geographic area, and

(b) prescribes requirements pertaining to spacing, target areas, multi-zone wells, allowables, production rates and other subsurface matters within that zone,

in which case if there is a conflict or inconsistency between the subsurface order and any of the sections referred to above, the subsurface order prevails to the extent of the conflict or inconsistency.

The Bulletin provides additional guidance as to how the AER will use this significant new power – which evidently allows it to suspend and vary the default rules relating to important issues such as spacing, target areas, allowables and production rates over broad geographic areas. The amendment likely has something to do with the AER’s experimentation with the play-based approach (see post welcoming that development here). The Bulletin does not specifically mention that initiative although it does indicate that the change is particularly directed at tight oil and gas resources.

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Uber & Calgary – A Modern Day Romeo & Juliet

By: Theresa Yurkewich

PDF Version: Uber & Calgary – A Modern Day Romeo & Juliet

The days of ride-sharing programs are nothing new, but with Uber’s recent opening in Edmonton, there is no doubt that it will soon make its way to Calgary. However, Uber is not the first taxi-alternative to make a run at the Calgary market. Blue & white Car2Gos can be seen populating the city, and especially the downtown core, where users sign up with their payment information and driver’s license in order to rent easy-to-park vehicles on a per-minute basis. These cars can be reserved using a mobile app or web browser and payment is electronically transferred when the ride ends.

But Car2Go isn’t the only ride-sharing program in Calgary – a simple search on Kijiji will find various drivers offering rides, Carpool.ca will match riders with drivers, and there are other start-ups in the works. This post will consider the legal regime governing ride-sharing, with a focus on Calgary, while identifying some of the legal issues that these programs might face when operating within a municipality.

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