Legal Feeds Blog
New charges for Quebec’s construction magnate Accurso, The Globe and Mail
Pregnant woman murdered after Vancouver officers fail to pass on threat, Vancouver Sun
Group of Cape Breton citizens fail to stop oil well, The Chronicle Herald
Case involving 28-year-old computer hacking law will not go before the U.S. Supreme Court, Reuters
Undocumented immigrants put at risk by health care reform, Huffington Post
French court’s verdict on EU fiscal pact expected later today, Reuters
Gu Kailai awaits verdict after 7-hour trial, Reuters
|The federal government is appealing the decision that gave Gloria Taylor the right to seek an assisted suicide. (Photo: Andy Clark/Reuters)|
“After careful consideration of the legal merits of the June 15, 2012 ruling from the British Columbia Supreme Court, the Government of Canada will appeal the decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and will seek a stay of all aspects of the lower court decision.
“The government is of the view that the Criminal Code provisions that prohibit medical professionals, or anyone else, from counselling or providing assistance in a suicide, are constitutionally valid.
“The government also objects to the lower court’s decision to grant a ‘constitutional exemption’ resembling a regulatory framework for assisted suicide.”
Gloria Taylor, 64, was one of several plaintiffs who argued in court that the criminal law was unconstitutional and that people with serious illnesses should be entitled to take their lives with the help of a physician.
In her 395-page ruling in June striking down the ban, Justice Lynne Smith found that the law was over broad and the absolute prohibition of assisted was “grossly disproportionate” to the objectives it was meant to accomplish.
She had suspended her decision for a year to give Parliament a chance to change the laws and bring them in line with the Constitution. But she had allowed an immediate exception for Taylor “to seek — and her physician will be permitted to proceed with — physician-assisted death under specified conditions.”
“The laws surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, including those who are most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly or people with disabilities. The Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged the state interest in protecting human life and upheld the constitutionality of the existing legislation in Rodriguez [v. British Columbia (Attorney General)],” Nicholson continued in his statement.
“In April 2010, a large majority of Parliamentarians voted not to change these laws, which is an expression of democratic will on this topic. It is an emotional and divisive issue for many Canadians,” he said.
|Borys Wrzesnewskyj, in suit, speaks to journalists during a break in hearings at the Supreme Court Tuesday. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)|
But it was set against the backdrop of separate court challenges to results in seven other ridings where Conservatives are accused of seeking to suppress the votes of non-Conservatives, charges the Conservatives deny.
In Tuesday’s case, lawyer Kent Thomson, representing Opitz, argued for the top court to overturn an Ontario Superior Court decision that invalidated his slim May 2011 election victory and ordered a by-election.
Wrzesnewskyj had challenged the results, accusing Elections Canada of irregularities including not being able to produce registration certificates to back up the right to vote.
“We know that people that showed up with no ID were allowed to vote. That speaks to the integrity of the system here,” Wrzesnewskyj told reporters in the court’s foyer. “How can we have confidence in the laws enacted by parliamentarians when we can’t have confidence in who it was that actually was elected?”
There were no allegations of intentional wrongdoing.
Opitz argued that 52,000 people voted in his district, and it would not be right to overturn the results just because of some clerical errors by what he called honest and well-meaning Elections Canada officials.
“Everybody here’s made a mistake,” he told reporters .
In May, an Ontario judge invalidated Opitz’s election, disallowing 79 votes, including 52 that he disqualified because he could not find the voters were registered properly. Elections Canada subsequently found 44 of those 52 were in fact properly on its national voters registry.
Both sides tried to convince the seven judges hearing Tuesday’s case the soundness of the electoral system was at stake.
“Voters will recoil against [the system], saying . . .‘I lost my right to vote because some poll clerk didn’t write my name in a book.’ That can’t be right,” said Thomson.
Wrzesnewskyj’s counsel Gavin Tighe countered: “The rules provide integrity to the system, because the right to vote must be to vote in a fair system. . . . The right to vote in an election that is conducted unfairly is a right with no substance to it at all.”
While Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin showed great skepticism about Opitz’s position, three justices — Rosalie Abella, Marshall Rothstein, and Michael Moldaver — repeatedly questioned the idea of overturning an election because of a strict application of rules without any proof of wrongdoing.
“How can the process have integrity if a person who is qualified to vote is not allowed to vote for reasons that don’t apply to anything except the strict language?” asked Abella.
McLachlin said Canada had adopted a system of very strict record-keeping precisely because of electoral disputes that plague many countries.
“If this court should let that record-keeping slide, what will we be doing? We will excuse too many errors. What will that do to the overall Canadian electoral system?” she asked.
The court, which broke its summer recess to hear the case, reserved its decision but is expected to expedite its verdict.
|The PitCREW dragon boat team from Pitblado LLP. (Photo: Pitblado LLP)|
“We were losing up until the finish,” says Wallace. “We passed just at the finish line. As a steerer, I could see how we were doing. It was great to pull ahead just then.”
The race took place on June 23 at the Winnipeg Rowing Club on the Red River. The Pitblado team included 17 people from the law firm, with a mix of lawyers and support staff. The firm got involved with the race through partner Joe Barnsley, who is part of the Winnipeg Rowing Club. The club worked with the Canadian Cancer Society to host the event.
“It’s a good cause. It seemed like a great team-building event as well,” says Wallace.
|The PitCREW in action on the Red River. (Photo: Pitblado LLP)|
Pitblado faced off against 27 other teams, including two Winnipeg law firms.
The reason the Pitblado team won? Wallace says the victory was due to hard work on the team’s part.
“The team really meshed well and everyone that was rowing put in a lot of effort.”
Wallace says his firm plans to race again next year.
- Orders may pave the way for Competition Bureau approval
Maple, a consortium of Canada’s largest banks, insurers and pension funds, said the Ontario Securities Commission has approved final recognition orders that will govern operations of the combined entity after the close of the $3.8-billion deal. The rules will be published by the OSC later on Wednesday.
Canada’s Competition Bureau said earlier this year it was working closely with the OSC on its review of the deal. The bureau initially raised concerns about the deal’s impact on competition, but it later indicated the OSC’s final terms and conditions may help to “substantially mitigate” its concerns.
Maple as part of the deal wants to fold under TMX’s wing Alpha Group — TMX’s biggest domestic competitor in stock trading, and the Canadian Depository for Securities, which clears and settles all stock trades in Canada. The fact that TMX and Alpha control some 85 per cent of all stock trades in Canada raised concerns the merger would give too much power to a single market and clearing operator controlled by Canada’s big financial institutions.
TMX and Maple, in a joint statement, said the OSC’s orders approve the proposed acquisition of TMX Group, Alpha and CDS.
The orders, which provide the terms under which the OSC will permit Maple to operate a combined exchange and clearing group, have been reviewed and agreed to by all members of Maple Group.
Update 2:11 p.m.:
Competition Commissioner Melanie Aitken just released the following statement:
"Following an extensive review of Maple Group's bid to acquire TMX Group, as well as Alpha Group and Canadian Depository Services (CDS), in light of the Ontario Securities Commission's (OSC) recognition orders as finalized today, the Competition Bureau does not, at this time, intend to make an application to the Competition Tribunal to challenge the proposed transactions.
Lawyers in formal court dress mingled with pot-banging demonstrators of all ages in a central Montreal square yesterday after some 500 jurists took to the streets to protest against Quebec’s Bill 78.
The law, passed in efforts to get protesting Quebec students back to class, restricts freedom of assembly, protest, or picketing on or near university grounds, and anywhere in Quebec without prior police approval. The law also places restrictions upon education employees right to strike.
|Some 500 lawyers took to the streets of Montreal to protest Bill 78, which they say tramples Quebeckers’ rights. (Photo: Carl-Philippe Simonise)|
“We are here to express our concern with the lack of confidence of a growing number of our fellow citizens toward our judicial institutions that are there to uphold fundamental individual and collective liberties and the primacy of the law,” litigator Rémi Bourget, one of the organizers of the march, shouted through a megaphone.
“We are also officers of justice and many of us will be on the front lines of the fight to have the law declared illegal,” said Bourget, calling Bill 78 “a disproportionate attack on our freedom of expression, association, and of peaceful protest.”
Yesterday’s street protest by legal professionals of all stripes really began last week, a few days after Bill 78 was adopted with a few lawyers sharing concerns about its implications on a Facebook page, Bourget said before the march. That quickly morphed into plans for a formal protest to “remind people of the dignity of our function [as lawyers] and our system of justice” in a “spontaneous grouping that is independent of any organization or political party.”
“I am outraged by this law that bullies the rights of association and the individual right to protest that was adopted with the goal of putting an end to the conflict rather than focusing on the problem and settling it,” said Nathalie Belley, a solo practitioner and a litigator with 20 years of experience who travelled from Chambly, a city about 25 kilometres southeast of Montreal to attend Monday’s march. “It erodes the future of democracy and the idea that a special law can be adopted to control the population at large is scary.”
Besides the protest march, hundreds of Quebec lawyers have volunteered their time or sent input for a court challenge on the constitutionality of Bill 78 by some 124 individuals, community organizations, unions, and Quebec’s three main student groups that is set to be heard before a judge of Quebec Superior Court this Friday.
|(Photo: Mark Blinch/Reuters)|
The resignations come ahead of what are expected to be massive layoffs this year as the company prepares to launch BlackBerry smartphones run by an operating system completely different from that used in its legacy phones.
RIM’s shares have fallen some 75 per cent in the last year while its market share has shriveled against competition from iPhone maker Apple Inc and a slew of manufacturers using Google Inc’s Android operating system.
Bawa, who joined RIM in 2000, was promoted to general counsel and chief legal officer in late 2010. RIM said in a statement Bawa planned to stay on to support the hiring and transition of a replacement.
Analysts and former employees have long complained about what they viewed as a hyper-cautious corporate approach at RIM. That grew out of a drawn-out patent dispute early in the company’s rise and was exacerbated by the hiring of a slew of in-house lawyers afterwards.
RIM is quietly cleaning out layers of management and recruiting new people to fill important roles in a new structure being fashioned under Heins, who himself replaced longtime co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in January.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company currently employs around 16,500 people globally. Two sources with close connections to RIM have told Reuters that RIM plans to bring its workforce closer to 10,000 by early next year.
The sources asked to go unidentified because their disclosures would hurt their relationships with RIM.
The cuts will affect RIM’s legal, marketing, sales, operations, and human resources divisions, one of the sources said.
|'The passage of this bill is the result of a significant effort on the part of the Ministry of Justice,' says Bruce LeRose.|
“The passage of this bill is the result of a significant effort on the part of the Ministry of Justice,” said Bruce LeRose, president of the LSBC.
The amendments to the act include:
• An updated mandate that highlights the commitment of the LSBC to protection the public interests in the administration of justice.
• Decisions of LSBC hearing panels are subject to review by a board that will include persons who are not lawyers.
• Where it is in the public interest, the LSBC will have the authority to suspend a lawyer under investigation or impose conditions on the lawyer’s practice.
• Maximum fines for lawyer misconduct will be increased to be more in line with those of other professional bodies and to act as a greater deterrent.
• The LSBC will have the ability to require witnesses to answer questions and produce records in an investigation into a lawyer’s conduct.
• The LSBC will be able to suspend or disbar lawyers convicted of a wider range of serious crimes, which will also be extended to include those committed outside Canada.
• The elected and appointed board of governors, not all lawyers, will set the annual fees paid by lawyers to fund the LSBC.
More on the amendments here.
Photos: Gail J. Cohen
Launched in 2007, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers has grown substantially from its first meetings in a local Toronto Chinese restaurant.
Thierry Ntumba and Mariott Gilpin from the Royal Bank of Canada join in the festivities at Hart House.
Former FACL president Jason Leung of Ridout & Maybee LLP, Jennifer Leung, Neil Kothari of RBC, and visiting National Asian Pacific American Bar Association executive member Jin Hwang of Verizon Wireless in New Jersey.
Law Society of Upper Canada Bencher Raj Anand of Weir Foulds LLP, Heydary Green managing director Michael Cochrane, and Ontario Superior Court Justice Faye McWatt.
A little light entertainment.
More members of the RBC legal team: Mahira Mohtashami and Karen Sladden.
Patrick Gervais from Blaney McMurtry LLP, and Paliare Roland’s Manpreet Dhaliwal and Gregory Ko.
Some of the organizers of the FACL gala: Rosa Kang of Bennett Gastle PC; Jazz Li from Cappell Parker LLP; Andrea Yau of Koskie Minsky LLP; Cynthia Aoki of Jones Harley LLP; and mylawbid.com founder Jeffrey Fung.
Law Society of Upper Canada benchers Linda Rothstein and Janet Minor.
Vanessa Lam of Macdonald & Partners and Landy Marr Kats LLP’s Anna Wong.
Alwin Kong of Cancer Care Ontario; Brendan Wong from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Janet Chong from Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, and Rogers Communications’ Trung Lam.
Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen.
Keynote speaker Justice Linda Lee Oland of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. Her advice for the crowd was: “Don’t self select out” of applying for judicial positions.
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Gail J. Cohen