By: Kyle Gardiner
PDF Version:The Deductibility of Legal Fees Incurred in Child Support Proceedings and Section 15 of the Charter
Case commented on: Grenon v. Canada, 2016 FCA 4 (CanLII), leave to appeal dismissed, 2016 CanLII 41074 (SCC)
On June 30th, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal in the case of Grenon v. Canada, 2016 FCA 4 (CanLII), which was heard in Calgary at both trial and on appeal. The Appellant Grenon was seeking to challenge certain aspects of tax law and policy under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada has only heard two previous challenges to tax law based on the equality rights guarantee in section 15 of the Charter. In Symes v. Canada,  4 SCR 695, 1993 CanLII 55, a challenge based on the inability to deduct childcare expenses as business expenses was unsuccessful. In Thibaudeau v. Canada,  2 SCR 627, 1995 CanLII 99, a provision requiring custodial parents to include child support payments in their income was also found not to violate section 15. It has been 21 years since the Supreme Court of Canada last heard an equality challenge to tax law. This post will focus on the missed opportunities resulting from the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the Grenon appeal and some of the issues that have arisen in the past 20 years which it could have confronted. Continue reading
By: Amy Matychuk
PDF Version: Costs to the Respondent: Discouraging Habeas Corpus Applications
Case Commented On: Voisey v Canada (Attorney General), 2016 ABQB 316 (CanLII)
In Voisey v Canada (Attorney General), 2016 ABQB 316, Justice Crighton of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench rejected an application for habeas corpus and awarded $1000 in costs to the respondent. Mr. Voisey, a federal prison inmate, tested positive for drug use and was subsequently involuntarily transferred from a minimum to a medium security prison. He challenged the transfer based on several grounds, alleging it violated sections 1, 7, 12 and 15 of the Charter (at para 10), it was unreasonable because he was not violent, it was based on unproven suspicion, and he should have received the least restrictive measures possible (at para 20). The court found that all his claims were meritless, though it did acknowledge that a few of them met the minimum threshold of being “legitimate grounds” for claiming his reclassification was arbitrary. The court concluded, following Justice Shelley in Rain v Canada (Parole Board), 2015 ABQB 747 that the respondent “incurred significant expenditure for no valid purpose. That makes this a case where a substantial cost award is justified.” (at para 34) It awarded $1000 in costs against Mr. Voisey, to be paid in $5 increments out of his biweekly paycheques of $15, and the remainder to be payable immediately upon his release.
This case raises questions about the fairness and effectiveness of awarding costs against self-represented inmates on unsuccessful habeas corpus applications. Continue reading
By: Jeremy Barretto
PDF Version: Will the Flurry of New Wind Energy Projects Face a Storm of Opposition?
Decision Commented On: AUC Decision 3329-D01-2016, E.ON Climate & Renewables Canada Ltd., Applications for the Construction and Operation of the Grizzly Bear Creek Wind Power Project, May 19, 2016.
According to Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, renewable sources are expected to account for up to 30% of the province’s electricity generation by 2030—approximately triple today’s renewable generation. The provincial government is developing a competitive process to bring new renewable generation capacity to the grid, based on reports from an expert panel and the Alberta Electric System Operator. The first competition will be in Q4 2016.
As I’ve previously written, wind projects will likely obtain most government financial incentives, provided that such incentives are offered through a competitive auction for utility-scale renewable energy projects. That’s because upfront costs for wind energy projects are typically lower than other forms of renewable energy. The rapid development of wind energy in Ontario and recent Alberta decisions foreshadow potential vigorous opposition, and key process differences, for the anticipated flurry of new wind energy projects. Continue reading
By: Lisa Silver
PDF Version: The Probative Value of Technological Evidence
Case Commented On: R v Didechko, 2016 ABQB 376 (CanLII)
“After a while circumstantial evidence can be overwhelming!” remarked Mister Justice Germain in the recent Alberta Queen’s Bench decision, R v Didechko, (2016 ABQB 376, para 86). In this case, Justice Germain infers guilt on charges of failing to report an accident where death ensues pursuant to s. 252(1.3) and obstruct justice pursuant to s. 139(2) from the circumstantial technological evidence advanced by the Crown prosecutor. The use of such technological evidence, global positioning or GPS and telecommunications cell tower usage, is not unique. Rather what is singular is the evidential purpose for which it is proffered by the Crown as the only evidence available to establish the required factual connection between the accused and the crime. This case is a portent of the future as technological advancements make it possible, and necessary, to use such technological evidence for the investigation and successful prosecution of crime. Didechko is a persuasive example of a “smart” prosecution wherein the Crown utilizes all the evidentiary tools available to create a cohesive and, ultimately, unassailable prosecution. It is also a wake-up call for all those in the legal system to be mindful of the potential effects of technological advances in building a legally cogent case. Continue reading
By: Drew Yewchuk
PDF Version: Justice In a Timely Manner: The New Framework for Trial Within a Reasonable Time
Cases Commented On: R v Jordan, 2016 SCC 27 (CanLII); R v Williamson, 2016 SCC 28 (CanLII)
I recently posted a comment on a Supreme Court of Canada decision, R v Vassell, 2016 SCC 26 (CanLII), involving section 11(b) of the Charter, which guarantees the right of any person charged with an offence to be tried within a reasonable time. On July 8, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada decided two more appeals on section 11(b) of the Charter. In a five-four split in R v Jordan, 2016 SCC 27 (CanLII), the majority overturned the framework for calculating unreasonable delay that was established in R v Morin,  1 SCR 771 (CanLII). The new framework is simpler, and establishes presumptive ceilings for unreasonable delay (minus defence delays) between charges being laid and the end of trial. The new ceilings are 18 months for charges going to trial in provincial court, and 30 months for charges going to superior court. (Jordan, at para 49) This is a significant change to section 11(b) jurisprudence, and both the majority and concurring judgments acknowledge it as such (Jordan, majority at paras 134-137, concurring at para 302). Moreover, the concurring justices only concur as to the outcome of Jordan – they propose a less radical departure from Morin and fundamentally disagree regarding the proper framework to be applied. This post explores the reasons provided by the majority for this change, as well as the application of the majority and alternative frameworks in Jordan and the companion case of R v Williamson, 2016 SCC 28 (CanLII). Continue reading