This week at the SCC

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear five appeals this week, including a case in which the attorney general is challenging the courts’ authority regarding fees for amicus curiae and today’s emotional end-of-life case.

Dec. 10 — Ontario — Cuthbertson v. Rasouli

Statutes: Hassan Rasouli is in a coma. His doctors, Brian Cuthbertson and others at Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto, want to end his life support and administer palliative care but Rasouli’s substitute decision-maker refuses to consent. The main question is whether the doctors need consent or a determination from the Consent and Capacity Board that ending life support is in Rasouli’s best interests.

Dec. 11 — British Columbia — Behn v. Moulton Contracting Ltd.

Aboriginal law: The Crown granted Moulton Contracting timber sale licences and a road permit to log certain areas of land within the Behn family territory, which is located within the Fort Nelson First Nation territory. Several members of the Behn family, most of whom are members of the Fort Nelson First Nation, impeded Moulton’s access to the area, so Moulton filed a claim for damages. The Behn family members argued the licences and permit were issued unlawfully, and the Crown failed to adequately consult with the First Nation and interfered with its ability to exercise its Treaty 8 rights. There are several constitutional issues in question here.

Dec. 12 — Ontario — R. v. Criminal Lawyers’ Association of Ontario

Constitutional law: The trial judges in these criminal cases appointed amicus curiae to make sure the cases would be fair and efficient. The judges also determined their fees to be paid by the attorney general. The attorney general challenged the courts’ authority to set fees for amicus curiae and the courts’ jurisdiction to order that amicus curiae be paid from public funds.

Dec. 13 — Quebec — Gauthier v. R.

Criminal law: Cathie Gauthier called 911, requesting an ambulance. She told the operator that her wrist was cut. When asked if it was a suicide attempt, she said “it was a pact; my husband killed our three children.” She claimed that she woke up lying in her bed with her children, who did not respond upon shaking them, and her husband was lying on the floor. She said her husband had cut her wrist and drugged everyone with sleeping pills. In question is whether the Court of Appeal erred by upholding Gauthier’s guilty verdicts on the ground that she should have prevented the children from consuming the drinks made by her husband.

Dec. 14 — British Columbia — IBM Canada Ltd. v. Waterman

Employment law: At age 65, Richard Waterman was dismissed without cause with two months’ notice after working at IBM for over 40 years. He was eligible for IBM’s pension plan, but he was not planning to retire so he sued for wrongful dismissal. The trial judge ruled that Waterman should have been given 20 months’ notice and awarded damages. Following his termination, Waterman received payments based on a fully vested pension. IBM filed an appeal, claiming that the judge should have deducted the amount of pension benefits paid during the notice period from the damages award, which the Court of Appeal dismissed.

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