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This week at the SCC

|Written By Elizabeth Raymer

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear seven appeals this week. Today’s two appeals were companion cases involving perjury charges against two RCMP officers in the tasering death of a Polish visitor, and the SCC has now dismissed both appeals. Two Quebec cases concern women’s pay equity, the CBC is appealing an injunction, and, finally, a former Harper aide will have his day in court to appeal his conviction of influence peddling.

October 30 – British Columbia – Robinson v. R.

Criminal law: Following a public inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, a visitor from Poland who was tasered by RCMP officers at the Vancouver International Airport and who was pronounced dead shortly thereafter, the applicant, along with three other RCMP officers involved in the incident, were charged with perjury and tried in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The applicant and another officer were convicted. The applicant appealed, arguing that the verdict was unreasonable and that a miscarriage of justice had occurred because the trial judge misapprehended certain evidence. A majority of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Read the B.C. appellate court decision here.

Related news stories:

October marks ten years since Polish immigrant's death at YVR; News1130.com

Monty Robinson denied appeal in case of Robert Dziekanski Taser death; CBC News

October 30 – British Columbia – Millington v. R.

 Criminal law: Companion case to the above. The trial judge found that the applicant, an RCMP officer, had lied at the inquiry about what he had perceived during the tasering incident and about whether he discussed the details of the incident with the other officers before giving his statements to the investigators. The trial judge also found that the applicant’s account of the incident was unquestionably inaccurate in material respects when compared to a video of the incident taken by a bystander. The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the applicant’s appeal.

Read the B.C. appeals court decision here.

Related news stories:

Supreme Court agrees to hear RCMP perjury appeals in Robert Dziekanski Taser case; Toronto Star

RCMP officer convicted of perjury in Robert Dziekanski Taser case loses appeal; Toronto Star

October 31 – Quebec – Centrale des syndicats du Québec, et al. v. Attorney General of Quebec, et al.

 Charter of Rights: The applicants, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec et al., primarily represent childcare centre employees, most of whom are day care educators and sign language interpreters. Under the Pay Equity Act, CQLR, those enterprises have no male comparator for the purposes of women’s right to pay equity. Under s. 37 of the Act, enterprises with a PMJC had until December 21, 2001, or four years after the Act came into force, to complete their pay equity plan and start paying the resulting compensation adjustments. However, s. 38 of the Act required enterprises with no male comparator to complete the exercise within a maximum of two years after the coming into force of a regulation on the subject, with no effect retroactive to December 21, 2001. The applicants argued that s. 38 of the P.E.A. and that time gap created discrimination contrary to s. 15(1) of the Canadian Charter.

Read the Quebec appellate court decision here.

October 31 – Quebec – Attorney General of Québec v. Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux, et al.

 Charter of Rights: The Attorney General of Quebec is seeking leave to appeal a decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal upholding the unconstitutionality of ss. 76.3, 76.5 and 103.1 of the Pay Equity Act, R.S.Q., c. 12.001. Those sections were enacted in 2009 under the Act to amend the Pay Equity Act, SQ 2009, c. 9. The provisions were challenged by unions representing employees working in predominantly female job classes. They alleged that the sections had the effect of substantially reducing the rights and benefits conferred on them by the Pay Equity Act as enacted in 1996, which, in their view, was contrary to ss. 15 and 52 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and ss. 10, 16, 19, 50.1 and 52 of the Charter of human rights and freedoms. Under the 2009 reform, among other things, the jobs concerned were reviewed every five years to determine whether there were changes to them that justified a compensation adjustment, and there were no retroactive payments during the review process.

Read the Quebec appellate court decision here.

Related news release: Victoire des enseignants de Colombie-Britannique en Cour suprême - La CSQ et la FSE-CSQ heureuses du jugement qui confirme que le gouvernement doit respecter les ententes négociées

November 1 – Alberta – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation v. R.

Criminal law (contempt): In March 2016, a 14-year-old girl was murdered, and CBC reported on the crime immediately, using the girl’s name and her picture. Several days later, the accused appeared in court, and pursuant to s. 486.4(2.2) of the Criminal Code, the judge issued a mandatory publication ban directing that any information that could identify the victim not be published in any document or broadcast or transmitted in anyway. CBC refused to remove the content it had posted prior to the ban, and the Crown moved for an order citing CBC for criminal contempt and an interim injunction requiring it to remove the content from its website pending the outcome of the contempt proceedings. The chambers judge refused to issue the injunction, finding that the Crown had not established a strong prima facie case of criminal contempt. A majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered the injunction.

Read the Alberta appellate court decision here.

Related news story: Alberta judge finds CBC not guilty of criminal contempt over publication ban; CBC News

November 2 – Alberta – Highwood Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses v. Wall

 Charter of Rights, freedom of association: The applicant, Mr. Wall, was a member of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an unincorporated religious association. He was “dis-fellowshipped” by a Judicial Committee of elders because he was not sufficiently repentant for two incidents of drunkenness, one of which included verbal abuse of his wife. This required Jehovah’s Witnesses, including his wife and children, to shun him. He is a real estate agent and lost congregation members and other Jehovah’s Witnesses as clients. He appealed to an Appeal Committee which upheld the dis-fellowship decision. Mr. Wall applied for judicial review. Justice Wilson conducted a hearing to determine whether the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta had jurisdiction to hear the application.

Read the Court of Appeal of Alberta’s decision here.

Related news stories:

The much-needed separation of church and state; The Globe and Mail

Alberta court weighs in on jurisdiction over religious groups following expulsion of Jehovah's Witness member; CBC News

November 3 – Ontario – Carson v. R.

 Criminal law, influence peddling: The appellant was charged with influence peddling, contrary to s. 121(1)(d) of the Criminal Code, in relation to his attempt to persuade First Nations communities to buy water treatment systems being sold by a company that employed his then-girlfriend. While the appellant admitted he was a person who had influence with the government and that he had demanded a benefit for his girlfriend in exchange for exercising his influence on behalf of the company for which she worked, the trial judge entered an acquittal on the basis that the appellant’s conduct did not fall within the purview of s. 121(1)(d), and that his activities did not involve “any matter of business relating to the government.” A majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and entered a conviction.

Read the Ontario appellate court decision here.

Related news stories:

Ex Harper aide Bruce Carson convicted of influence-peddling; Toronto Sun

The Bruce Carson controversy; CBC News


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