This week at the SCC

The Supreme Court of Canada kicks off its fall session today. Here are the appeals the SCC will be hearing this week.

Oct. 12 — Saskatchewan — Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v. Whatcott

Human rights: William Whatcott distributed flyers on behalf of the Christian Truth Activists to homes in Saskatoon and Regina that denounced the sexual practices of same-sex partners. Four people who received the flyers filed complaints alleging the content violates the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission appointed a tribunal to hear the complaints, which decided that the flyers did violate the Code. Whatcott appealed, claiming he was exercising his right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion. The main question is whether the Code’s hate speech prohibition violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.supreme court

Oct. 13 — Quebec — R. v. Lamoureux

Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Anic St-Onge Lamoureux was convicted of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. She argued that sections of the Criminal Code were unconstitutional because they infringed the right to be presumed innocent, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to make full answer and defence. The Court of Quebec ruled that the application of those sections was constitutional. She didn’t appeal her conviction. The Attorney General and Crown have applied for leave to appeal to address the constitutional questions raised in the case.

Oct. 13 — Ontario — Dineley v. R.

Statutes: Following a car accident, Samuel Dineley was charged with impaired driving and operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 80mg alcohol in 100ml blood. At trial, he presented a toxicology report to rebut the presumption of identity. The Crown asked for an adjournment to cross-examine the toxicologist. But while the trial was adjourned, the Criminal Code was amended to stop testimony over the accused’s alcohol consumption based on arguments of a problem with the breathalyzer or testing procedure. The main issue is whether the amendment applies to offences committed before the effective date.

Oct. 14 — Newfoundland & Labrador — Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union v. Newfoundland and Labrador

Labour law: The Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union claimed that annual leave hours had been improperly taken away from a group of nurses. An arbitrator determined that according to their collective agreement, the nurses couldn’t count their time as casual employees for vacation entitlement once they became permanent employees. The union filed for judicial review, arguing that vacation entitlement was determined on the basis of “service,” which included their time as casual employees.

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