Case Commented On: R v MB, 2015 ABCA 232, appeal as of right (SCC)
Today the Supreme Court of Canada is hearing the appeal in R v MB, 2015 ABCA 232, concerning the proper interpretation of infanticide in section 233 of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46. Section 233 provides as follows:
A female person commits infanticide when by a wilful act or omission she causes the death of her newly-born child, if at the time of the act or omission she is not fully recovered from the effects of giving birth to the child and by reason thereof or of the effect of lactation consequent on the birth of the child her mind is then disturbed.
For Lisa Silver’s post on the Alberta Court of Appeal decision, see here. Lisa also gave an interview on the appeal this morning on CBC Calgary’s Eyeopener.
By: Jonnette Watson Hamilton
PDF Version: For Shame: An Obvious and Fundamental Breach of Natural Justice by the Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS)
Case Commented On: Kerr v Coulombe, 2016 ABQB 11 (CanLII)
A tenant, Gary Kerr, showed up for a hearing at the Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) in Edmonton. The hearing, initiated by the landlord, Betty Coulombe, against Gary and Jason Kerr, was scheduled for November 27, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. The tenant arrived on time and checked in with the receptionist. The receptionist told him to have a seat in the waiting room and said they would call him. At 2:30 p.m., the tenant checked with the receptionist again, wanting to know if he should continue to wait. The receptionist disappeared into the back and returned with an Order against the tenant. The Order stated that the landlord appeared by telephone and “Tenants are not participating.” As the tenant succinctly put it in his affidavit, “I did not have a chance to speak on our behalf” (at para 3). This scenario is reminiscent of Franz Kafka’s parable, “Before the Law”, where the man from the country patiently sits before a gatekeeper controlling entry into the law.
What the RTDRS did to Gary Kerr was, without question, a breach of natural justice: “an obvious and fundamental failure of natural justice” (at para 14). No administrative tribunal in the Canadian legal system — no matter how “fast, inexpensive, less formal” it bills itself — can leave a party cooling his heels in the waiting room and conduct a hearing without giving him a chance to speak. It may be fast, it may be inexpensive, and it may be informal — but it is not justice.
By: Alastair Lucas
PDF Version: Another Favourite Supreme Court of Canada Case: The Northern Gas Pipeline Saga
Case/Matter Commented On: Berger Inquiry; Committee for Justice and Liberty v National Energy Board,  1 SCR 369, 1976 CanLII 2; Joint Review Panel for the Mackenzie Gas Project (2009)
Processes for reviewing and analyzing proposals for large diameter pipelines to move natural gas from the Canadian Arctic to Southern North American markets have been significant for the development of Canadian environmental law. This includes regulatory review processes and judicial review cases that arose out of the pipeline review proceedings. Milestone decisions were taken on critical procedural matters including community hearings to receive traditional knowledge, intervenor funding, and decision maker impartiality. The story spans more than 35 years and involves two separate sets of pipeline proposals (see Thomas Berger, Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland, The Report of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1977) (Berger Report)).
By: Jennifer Koshan
PDF Version: Status of Women Deputy Minister Visits the University of Calgary: A Wish List
Kim Armstrong, Deputy Minister of the Status of Women, visited the University of Calgary campus yesterday. I participated in one of her meetings with a group of deans, faculty members and senior staff. One of the major themes from our meeting was the need for the university to attract and retain a diverse body of students, faculty and staff, and to prepare and support students with the challenges they may face in their fields once they graduate. The need for diversity and intercultural training was also a common theme. It was interesting to hear about initiatives at the university level and in other faculties: Valerie Pruegger, Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure, reported that her strategic plan will soon be released; Jennifer Quin, Senior Director of Student Services, has been working on a new policy on sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus; the Faculty of Science is appointing an Associate Dean responsible for Diversity; and the Werklund School of Education has engaged in cluster hiring of First Nations, Inuit and Métis faculty members. I was pleased to report that our Faculty has a new student group, Calgary Women Studying Law, with whom the Deputy Minister would like to meet to discuss women and leadership, and that we are working towards implementing the recommendations regarding legal education from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recent report (see Calls to Action # 27 and 28, available here).
On my wish list of matters for the Status of Women Ministry to undertake, in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice, are a few amendments to the Alberta Human Rights Act, RSA 2000, c A-25.5 (AHRA). These amendments would benefit university women as well as women and other equality-seeking groups in Alberta more generally.
PDF Version: Faculty Favourites: Celebrating a Supreme Court of Canada Anniversary
2016 is the 140th anniversary of the year that the Supreme Court of Canada began hearing cases. Our colleagues at the Bennett Jones Law Library are marking the occasion with a display, and asked us to nominate some notable Supreme Court of Canada cases for inclusion. The cases could be selected on the basis that they were our favourites, had the most impact on people’s lives (positive or negative), and/or were the most significant to our particular fields of study. Below is a compilation of responses from Faculty members and the Directors of some of the Faculty’s Centres and Institutes. Readers in Calgary are encouraged to drop by the Law Library to check out the display, and – for readers everywhere – if you have your own favourites, let us know by adding a comment to this post.
By: James Coleman
PDF Version: TransCanada Sues U.S. Government for Rejecting Keystone Pipelines
Last Wednesday, TransCanada filed a complaint against the United States in a federal district court in Houston alleging that the President’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline was invalid and unconstitutional because it was not authorized by Congress. If successful, this claim would allow construction of the pipeline.
On the same day, TransCanada filed a notice of intent to submit a claim to arbitration under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Even if successful, this claim would not allow construction of the pipeline, but could entitle TransCanada to money damages from the United States. The company is asking for $15 billion in damages.
By: Alice Woolley
PDF Version: The Top Ten Canadian Legal Ethics Stories – 2015
Year’s end invites assessment of what has passed. For me, that includes reflection on the most significant developments in legal ethics over the year (Reflections from past years here: 2014, 2013 and 2012).
As usual, my assessment of significance isn’t one that I claim to be objective or right; it is better characterized as, “things that happened in 2015 I thought were especially interesting” (with assistance from Richard Devlin, Adam Dodek and Amy Salyzyn). Some things drop off the list that could have stayed on it; access to justice remains a crucial and unsolved problem in Canada, but fell off the list because it was more chronic than involving specific developments or discussion, at least this year. Others are on the list for the fourth consecutive year; Trinity Western’s law school was proposed in 2012, remains controversial, and law society decisions in relation to it are before several Canadian courts.
The one thing that constructing this list makes clear, however, is that the ethics and regulation of Canadian lawyers and judges remains an important and fruitful topic for our consideration: there is certainly no shortage of subject-matter.
ABlawg is honoured to announce that we were selected for the Best Canadian Law School/Law Professor Blog Award and as runner up for the Fodden Award for Best Canadian Law Blog for 2015. Here’s what the Clawbie judges had to say:
Yes, the blog of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law is also a runner-up for the Fodden Award. But the quality and frequency of ABlawg entries make it impossible for us not to honour it with a Clawbie of its own. Martin Olszynski, Sharon Mascher, and Nigel Bankes lead a stellar cast of faculty who help set the standard for law school blogging.
We would also like to acknowledge ABlawg creator Jonnette Watson Hamilton, 2015 Blogmasters Jennifer Koshan and Shaun Fluker, student assistant Evelyn Tang, and all of the bloggers who contribute to ABlawg.
Our congratulations to Paul Daly at Administrative Law Matters, who won the Fodden Award, and to our colleagues Lisa Silver (Ideablawg), Peter Sankoff and the folks at The Court, who were all runners up for the Best Canadian Law School/Law Professor Blog Award. And thanks as always to our readers for your nominations, comments and ongoing support.
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ABlawg is pleased to announce the launch of our third ebook, which deals with the rights of farm and ranch workers in Alberta. Our ebooks are accessible from a tab at the top of the ABlawg website, and each includes a table of contents with hyperlinks to the collected posts and is fully searchable. The introduction to this ebook is written by Jennifer Koshan. We also thank Evelyn Tang (JD 2016) for her work in producing the ebook.
By: Martin Olszynski, Sharon Mascher, and Nigel Bankes
PDF Version: Top Ten Environmental Law Stories: Canadian Edition
This last year was an important one for environmental law and policy, both in Canada and globally. In this post we highlight ten of the most significant developments. Many of these figure among the usual suspects included in top-ten lists, but we’ve included some less obvious ones as well.