Legal Feeds Blog
|The Supreme Court of Canada upheld B.C.’s automatic roadside licence suspensions for suspected drunk drivers. (Photo: Shutterstock)|
“From the perspective of my client, it’s a good day for those people who want to see preventable drunk driving injuries and deaths reduced in the country,” he says.
A lone dissenting judge in Goodwin warned for the need of greater judicial oversight in order to protect the public’s right against unreasonable seizure, and Mackey says that too is a welcome compromise when it comes to curtailing impaired driving.
“It’s equally important to have some ability for drivers to review the process under which they are being prohibited from driving in those cases where there may be a malfunctioning machine or some other procedural problem,” Mackey says.
Justice Andromache Karaktsanis writing for the majority in Goodwin said that the ultimate question facing the court was whether the review provisions of the roadside suspension scheme offer reasonable protection against abusive exercise of the state power to intrude on the individual’s private sphere.
“In my view, the answer is yes,” she wrote.
B.C.’s roadside regime came into play in 2010, providing police with the power to sanction drivers for impaired driving at the side of the road on the basis of a portable breath device test.
In Goodwin, a group of about seven drivers, who had been issued 90-day licence suspensions after refusing to provide samples, made a constitutional challenge against the law. They argued the rules violated their rights of unreasonable search and seizure and their guarantee of innocence until proven guilty.
In the other matter, Lee Michael Wilson had received a three-day driving ban in September 2012 after a roadside device test showed a blood-alcohol level in the warning range.
He successfully challenged the ban, arguing other than a warn reading there was no evidence his ability to drive was impaired. That decision was overturned in a subsequent challenge to the B.C. Court of Appeal. The SCC stood by the appeal court’s ruling Oct. 16.
Wilson’s lawyer Kyla Lee says the rulings are “legally quite correct” but expressed frustration the SCC did not make a more in-depth analysis.
“It’s mindboggling; everything stays the exact same,” she says. “It’s surprising to me they granted leave on both cases and didn’t say anything more than what the Court of Appeal had said. For the Supreme Court to grant leave on cases that pertain to a provincial regime . . . and to just confirm what the Court of Appeal said and not to take it one step further, I find it surprising.”
In a statement from Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, released following the decisions, she said she was pleased to see the court agree with the province’s arguments in both cases and that the court did not introduced any new concerns with the immediate roadside prohibition law.
“Our plan [is] to continue to have one of the toughest drinking driving laws in the country and to continue to protect public safety by getting these drivers off our roads,” Anton said.
SNC-Lavalin fraud case put off until February, Canadian Press
The union representing federal prosecutors is considering whether an appeal is in order after a recent decision that, despite stipulations to the contrary, may amount to a “blanket prohibition” on public prosecutors running for office.
|The Federal Court upheld the firing of former federal Crown Emilie Taman over her decision to run for office.|
“If somebody of Ms. Taman’s position is not permitted to run for office, I do fear that there’s a blanket prohibition,” says MacKay, “but the decision clearly states otherwise, that it’s not a blanket decision.”
Taman, a former prosecutor in the regulatory and economic prosecutions and management branch of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, submitted a request in November 2014 to the Public Service Commission for an unpaid leave of absence while she sought the NDP nomination.
That request was denied after the commission considered Taman’s arguments as well as those of her employer. While the PPSC argued that the perception of Taman’s impartiality as a prosecutor would be irreparably damaged if she were allowed to run for office, Taman argued her Charter rights to engage politically must be accommodated if at all possible.
Indeed, in her submissions to the PSC, Taman lays out a number of ways in which she might be able to return to her job without jeopardizing the impartiality of the prosecutors’ office, including “firewalls” that would prevent her from dealing with a matter in the rare instance that it’s politically sensitive.
Despite failing to get permission, Taman decided to run anyway — which led the PPSC to fire her on administrative grounds. Taman then issued a grievance with her union, the Association of Justice Counsel, which also backed her application to have the Federal Court set aside the PSC’s decision.
This week’s ruling by Justice Catherine Kane upholds the PSC’s denial and consequently the PPSC’s termination order, which has left the AJC considering its options.
“I can tell you that the AJC and counsel for Ms. Taman are looking at the decision and reviewing it for the possibility of an appeal,” says MacKay. “Certainly if you have a panel of three appellate-level judges, then I suspect you’d get a better look at the issues at hand.”
The union president says that, while he saw no glaring error in Kane’s decision, he found it frustratingly myopic in that it focused on provisions within the federal Public Service Employment Act while ignoring the fact that provincial statutes currently allow public prosecutors to run for office.
“They simply deflected those arguments by saying, ‘Well that’s not under the PSEA. We’re only considering this act.’
“If all the other provinces think it’s okay for public prosecutors to run for office, how could that be completely irrelevant?” asks MacKay.
While he acknowledges that political expression must be limited for civil servants, he wonders whether a prohibition on running for office — which he calls the “ultimate political expression” — crosses the line.
“I think you should be able to pursue just about any political action you want, if you’re no longer working for the government. If you’re willing to take that step, to take a leave of absence from your employment without pay and detach yourself from that position, you should be free to do things politically, including running for office.”
SASKATOON — Traditional First Nation stories about an Ojibway legend were used to demonstrate how laws were taught and passed down from one generation to another during the “Aboriginal Peoples and Law: We Are All Here To Stay” conference in Saskatoon.
|Justice Murray Sinclair says he learns new things from traditional stories every time.|
The story contained life learning lessons and teachings about what can happen if you are lazy and a thief.
“Each of theses stories are just filled with teachings,” said Justice Murray Sinclair during the question and answer portion of the session. “As I was listening to it, and as I tell it, each time I seem to get something different from it because that’s the beauty of a good story. This is about taking somebody’s else’s property.”
In the story, Nanabush wakes up from a long sleep, hungry and wanting food. He wanders until he comes across a camp. He steals and eats roasted ducks. Then he gets sick to his stomach because he eats too much.
“This is reinforcing that we have a sense of property,” said Sinclair.
Earlier in the day, Sinclair spoke to the conference explaining indigenous laws and concepts as well as debunking some myths.
“I’ve always chafed a bit by the dominant theory that is held by white legal authorities who said Indians had no knowledge, no tradition of owning property, which I always wanted to say out loud, bullshit,” said Sinclair.
“The reality is you owned things, you owned your weapons, you owned your tipi, you owned your property. No one could take those things away from you. You owned the territory that you occupied. It was your land, your property. Therefore, anybody who interfered with that would suffer the consequences.”
Former Assembly of First Nation Chief, Ovide Mercredi, joined in on the analyses of the Nanabush story.
He said the story teaches what is right and what is wrong.
“Its not a good thing to be lazy but it’s worse to be a thief,” he said to a chorus of laughter. “Because if you are lazy consequences are there and obviously the consequences are that you can’t look after yourself. The story teaches you not to take other peoples property without their consent.”
University of Victoria indigenous law professor, John Borrows, said there are examples of where First Nation tribal courts have used these kinds of stories to support their reasons for decisions.
“In one way, these are children’s stories and they’re entertaining but we also have a resource for reasoning,” said Borrows. “We find this to be a resource for talking with one another what our responsibilities are, our laws, our obligations, and our responses to our challenges we find in our midst.”
Borrows says there is a framework in Canadian law that allows for these stories that talk about reconciliation and involving aboriginal perspectives on the meaning of the right at stake.
The Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice sponsored the three-day conference.
Wilfrid Laurier University says it’s struck a deal with the U.K.’s University of Sussex that will allow students to get a BA and a law degree in six years.
|Waterloo’s Laurier University has struck a deal with the University of Sussex’s law school in the U.K. (Photo: GatorEG/Wikimedia Commons)|
There will be no requirement to take the LSAT to get into the law program at Sussex.
“Students who meet the GPA and eligibility requirements at Laurier may apply to the University of Sussex and are guaranteed an offer of admission to the Sussex Law School providing they meet the entrance requirements of the University of Sussex,” Laurier said in an announcement.
Daniel Jutras, president of the Council of Canadian Law Deans, says since programs like this don’t currently exist, it’s difficult to determine what kind of success they’ll have and what the size of the program will be.
But, “I think most deans would share the view that diversity is a good idea. Different programs and innovation in legal education are good ideas,” says Jutras, who is the law dean at McGill University.
Students who do the dual program will have to complete qualification exams to be able to go on to article in Ontario, or participate in the law practice program.
As to the quality of legal education, Jutras says the law society already exercises oversight over the qualification of people who come to Canada with foreign credentials. “It does so meticulously and with efficiency so I don’t think we should be concerned about this,” he says.
Heidi Northwood, Laurier’s dean of liberal arts, says the law program at Sussex is a good fit with the undergraduate programs offered at Laurier. She also says the program provides “value added” to students who are looking for a specific experience.
“It seemed to us that when a student decides they want to pursue law, the question they should have in their mind, even if they don’t, is what sort of value added can be brought to the law degree depending on where they decide to study,” says Northwood.
“A growing number of our students have made it clear that they’re interested in pursuing law after they do the BA,” she says.
For students who want to have an international perspective to their studies, the program provides an option to gain that experience along the opportunity to travel and be immersed in a different culture, Northwood adds.
Laurier is “very excited” about its new affiliation with the University of Sussex, says Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier’s vice-president, academic and provost. “The University of Sussex has an outstanding law program that is already home to many Canadian students. This is a tremendous opportunity for students to build a professional credential and international experience into their studies at Laurier.”
The program will start in September 2016 for new entries, but Northwood says students who are already in one of the four BA programs will be given the option to get into continue into the law degree.
Students will pay University of Sussex tuition fees while studying there. Based on the current exchange rate, Laurier says fees fall in the $25,000 to $30,000 range per year. While at Laurier, Ontario students will pay the school’s approximately $6,000 tuition per year for their undergraduate degree. That brings the total tuition for the six years to between $93,000 and $108,000.
Update Oct 15: Comments from Daniel Jutras added.
Yesterday, Thomson Reuters launched an exciting innovation project in Ontario’s tech centre in the Waterloo Region.
Thomson Reuters Lab will live at the Communitech centre, which houses nearly 1,000 technology and innovation companies in the region. The lab means Thomson Reuters can engage with the exciting and expanding innovation network and its dynamic startup company community, the University of Waterloo, and a culture of collaboration within the technology and innovation industries.
The event was well-attended, including a number of Thomson Reuters dignitaries, including chairman David Thomson, president and CEO Jim Smith, and Neil Sternthal, the new managing director for Canada/Australia/New Zealand. Thomson Reuters customers and academic attendees included members of Deloitte, Gowlings, professors from the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo, members of the government, and members of the Communitech community.
Lab data scientists, from including some from Boston and Toronto, put on five demonstrations in the areas of: data science prototypes, Eikon and Westlaw Next, startups (Silque, Beagle, Think Data Works, and Nest Wealth), Reuters TV, and LRT and High Speed Rail (Ion and GO).
The launch kicked off Techtoberfest, which takes place Oct. 13-14, 2015. It allows investors and startup companies to connect, as well as talks from speakers including Gary Vaynerchuk, prolific angel investor and venture capitalist; Allen Lau, CEO and co-founder, Wattpad; and Angela Tran Kingyens, associate, Version One Ventures.
Attendees were also treated to a tour of the Perimeter Institute, a leading centre for scientific research, training and educational outreach in foundational theoretical physics, in which the attendees gathered a sense of how theoretical physics enhances technological innovation. Attendees also toured the University of Waterloo to hear about the applied sciences, technology, and engineering achievements the region and university have garnered.
Harper ad linked to mentally ill man's actions a mistake: family, Canadian Press
Transport Canada investigates drone near plane over Newfoundland, Canadian Press
Slain Alberta woman's family presses for inquiry, Canadian Press
A week after stepping down as head of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Marcel Aubut resigned from Quebec regional law firm BCF on Friday and apologized for his behaviour amid allegations he sexually harassed several women.
|Marcel Aubut speaks to journalists in Ottawa in this file photo from January 2014. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)|
“The crisis brought on by my behaviour also plunged into turmoil my family, my friends, my associates, my employees, and everyone who has been hurt by this behaviour.”
Aubut said he was also going to be seeking counseling.
Following Aubut’s resignation, BCF’s chairman of the board of directors André Morrissette said in a statement:
“Mr. Aubut and his family are going through an extremely difficult time. This morning, Mr. Aubut acknowledged his mistakes and assumed responsibility for his actions. We welcome his acknowledgment, which was without question very difficult for him to make under these circumstances. We have expressed our support for Mr. Aubut’s decision to undertake steps to make lasting changes in his behaviour toward others. He will start this new and important chapter in his life surrounded by his loved ones and we wish him well.”
The allegations regarding Aubut’s conduct toward women during his time at the Canadian Olympic Committee go back to 2011.
The committee said it had had retained Francois Rolland, a former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court, to head up an independent investigation. However, the COC ended that initial investigation “in light of his resignation and based on the wishes of the complainant.”
An independent investigation, however, will continue. “The independent third party process investigating any other complaints will continue uninterrupted. We hope that anyone who has concerns will contact us," the COC said in a statement.
None of the allegations against Aubut have been proven in court and there is no criminal investigation into his actions, Tricia Smith, the interim president of the COC, said recently. Smith is a Vancouver-based lawyer who captured a silver medal in rowing at the 1984 Los Angeles Los Angeles Olympics.
Aubut, a prominent Quebec lawyer, led a group of 30 lawyers from the dissolved Heenan Blaikie LLP to Montreal-based BCF last February — at the same time he was in Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympic Games serving as president of the COC. In addition to being a partner at BCF, Aubut was vice chairman of BCF’s board.
Aubut, who is an Officer of the Order of Canada, founded the firm Aubut Chabot that merged with Heenan in 1998.
He is also the former president of the Quebec Nordiques hockey team.
An allegation has surfaced from a lawyer living outside Canada who says she was inappropriately touched by Aubut when she was a teenager working as a hostess at Nordiques games.
BCF, a firm of more than 200 lawyers and other professionals, focuses on business law in Quebec.
86-year-old woman dies after crash near Stratford, Canadian Press
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