By: Sharon Mascher
PDF Version: Note to Canada on the Northern Gateway Project: This is NOT What Deep Consultation With Aboriginal People Looks Like
Case Commented On: Gitxaala Nation v. Canada, 2016 FCA 187 (CanLII)
On June 20, 2016, the majority of the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) quashed Order in Council P.C. 2014-809 requiring the National Energy Board (NEB) to issue Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity to Northern Gateway on the basis that Canada had not fulfilled the duty to consult it owed to Aboriginal peoples affected by the Project. Concluding that “Canada offered only a brief, hurried, and inadequate opportunity in Phase IV – a critical part of Canada’s consultation framework – to exchange and discuss information and dialogue” (at para 325), the Court identifies several ways in which the consultation process fell “well short of the mark”. Marking a crucial step in the “Northern Gateway legal saga” (for a list of previous ABlawg posts, going as far back as 2012, see here), the FCA has remitted the matter to the Governor in Council for redetermination. While entitled to make a fresh decision, the FCA has made clear that should it decide to do so the Governor in Council may only issue Certificates for the Project after Canada has fulfilled its duty to consult with Aboriginal peoples (at para 335).
Needless to say, the substantive guidance provided by the majority’s decision will be important whenever the duty to consult is engaged going forward. In the immediate future, attention will be focused on what this means for the Northern Gateway Project and the Trans Mountain Expansion Project consultations currently underway in accordance with the Federal Government’s interim measures. Continue reading
By: Lisa Silver
PDF Version: Modernizing Circumstances: Revisiting Circumstantial Evidence in R v Villaroman
Case Commented On: R v Villaroman, 2016 SCC 33 (CanLII)
My past two blog posts have a thematic connection and this post is no exception. I have modernity on the mind and so, apparently, do the courts. You may recall that theme in my discussion of the DLW decision (2016 SCC 22 (CanLII)) in which the Supreme Court of Canada, in the name of the “modern,” or the “modern approach” to be exact, entered into the time-honoured process of statutory interpretation only to come to the decision that the 2016 concept of bestiality under s 160 of the Criminal Code was no different than the common law concept of bestiality as subsumed into our codified criminal law in 1892. Justice Abella, hoping for a more modern approach, disagreed. Then, in my last blog post, I discussed the “smart” use of technological evidence to weave a persuasive narrative at trial. In the Didechko case (2016 ABQB 376 (CanLII)), the Crown relied, to great effect, on evidence emanating from the technological traces left by the accused to construct a case based on circumstantial evidence. Didechko serves as an exemplar of a thoroughly modern approach to another centuries-old process. Now, in this post, I will make another case for the modern as the Supreme Court of Canada in Villaroman (2016 SCC 33 (CanLII)) clarifies a very old rule on circumstantial evidence, one predating our Criminal Code, found in the English 1838 Hodge’s Case (168 ER 1136). Continue reading
By: Jennifer Koshan
PDF Version: Section 7: Superhero, Mere Mortal or Villain?
Comment On: Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Many people love superheroes. My favourite was always Spider-Man – he had the most interesting back story, the coolest superpowers, and the grooviest soundtrack and visuals (at least in the cartoon of my youth). Section 7 could easily be seen as the superhero of the Charter. It has the power to strike down laws and government policies that increase the risk of death and bodily or psychological harm, as well as those that deprive people of the ability to make fundamental personal decisions free from state interference. Those powers have been used by the Supreme Court of Canada in ways that may make the members of the Court the actual superheroes in the eyes of many individuals and groups who are vulnerable to the effects of state (in)action (for recent examples see Canada (Attorney General) v PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44 (CanLII), Canada (Attorney General) v Bedford, 2013 SCC 72 (CanLII), and Carter v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5 (CanLII)).
But the courts do not always embrace the role of superhero. They can be timid Peter Parkers who are afraid to use their powers under section 7, especially when the use of those powers is seen as imposing positive obligations on governments. Conversely, section 7 powers may sometimes be used in ways that usurp the role of other Charter sections such as section 15, leaving equality rights and the individuals and groups who are the intended beneficiaries of that section in the dust. Alternatively, the courts, like Spider-Man, may be seen as villainous, fully intending to protect society but, by overextending their powers, harming society instead. Indeed, Asher Honickman, in The Case for a Constrained Approach to Section 7, argues that the Supreme Court has expanded section 7 beyond its proper limits. Continue reading
By: Drew Yewchuk
PDF Version: Ostensible Consent: Reality and Legal Reality
Case Commented On: R v Hajar, 2016 ABCA 222 (CanLII)
R v Hajar, 2016 ABCA 222 (CanLII) is an appeal of a sentencing for sexual offences against a minor. Hajar was convicted of sexual interference and luring a child (respectively s 151 and s 172 of the Criminal Code) and was given a global sentence of 18 months imprisonment followed by three years probation. Both the Crown and Hajar appealed, arguing the sentence was unfit. This post focuses on the majority’s rejection of the relevance of the ostensible consent of the minor to the sexual activity that was the subject of the charge, and their consequent rejection of the position that the offence was a legal technicality. Continue reading
By: Nigel Bankes
PDF Version: The South China Sea Award and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
Decision Commented On: Award on the Merits of the Annex VII Tribunal, In the Matter of the South China Sea Arbitration, The Republic of the Philippines v The People’s Republic of China, 12 July 2016
The Annex VII Tribunal in the South China Sea Arbitration handed down its decision on the merits in the dispute between the Philippines and China on 12 July 2016. The dispute between the parties involves China’s extensive maritime claims in the South China Sea (many within the context of China’s so-called nine dash line); claims in relation to fishing activities by Chinese flagged vessels; and claims in relation to China’s dredging and construction activities associated with reclamation activities on a series of maritime features in the South China Sea. The Tribunal ruled in favour of the Philippines on almost all issues in its 479 page unanimous and comprehensive decision. There are already a number of posts on the Award; see, for example the useful first thoughts offered by Doug Guilfoyle on the blog of the European Journal of International Law.
This post examines the Tribunal’s approach to some of the interpretive issues raised in the course of its decision on the merits. Continue reading