This week at the SCC

In the final week of the winter session, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear five appeals including the Charter challenge of Quebec’s move away from Catholic education. One case will also decide whether notice of resignation in Quebec can be waived by the company.

March 24 — Quebec — Loyola High School v. Quebec

Charter of Rights and Freedoms: In 2008, Quebec replaced its Catholic and Protestant educational programs with an ethics and religious culture program. Loyola High School, a religious institution, requested an exemption from the Minister of Education under regulations that allow for equivalent programs. The minister denied the application because Loyola’s program was deemed to be faith-based, not cultural in its approach. The SCC will review whether Loyola has a Charter right, under freedom of religion, to continue to teach its own religious program.

Read the Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision

Related news story:
Quebec court rules in religious education case, Lexpert

March 25 — Federal — Febles v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Charter of Rights and Freedoms: The appellant is a Cuban citizen who, as a political dissident, successfully applied for refugee status in the United States. He was then convicted twice on charges of assault with a deadly weapon. Having served those sentences, he was subject to deportation, but illegally entered Canada. His claim for refugee status was rejected in this country based on jurisprudence and legislation that denies refugee protection for claimants convicted of serious non-political crimes. Feble’s application for judicial review was dismissed by the Federal Court.

Read the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision

Related news story:
Top court to hear case of Cuban refugee claimant, Sun News

March 26 — Federal — Thibodeau v. Air Canada

Official Languages Act: Between January and May 2009, Michel and Lynda Thibodeau were refused service in French multiple times while flying with Air Canada. They each filed eight complaints with the Commissioner of Official Languages and sued the company for more than $500,000. The Federal Court found offences, specified damages of $12,000, and required the company to institute a corrective policy. The court, however, set aside its judgment. The SCC will review whether the court is limited to the penalties it has imposed, or whether legislation allows for more extensive measures.

Read the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision

Related news stories:
Air Canada ordered to pay $12,000 to passenger unable to order drink in French, The Globe and Mail

Supreme Court to hear case of couple who sued Air Canada for not being able to order a 7Up in French, National Post

March 27 — Federal — Tervita Corp. v. Commissioner of Competition

Competition Act: Tervita Corp., which owns two of four hazardous waste sites in northeastern British Columbia, had planned to merge with Complete Environmental, which owns one. The Competition Commissioner opposed the merger on the basis that it would unduly prevent competition, and the tribunal ordered the transaction dissolved. Tervita is arguing under s. 96 of the Competition Act, which allows certain mergers if efficiencies can be proven to outweigh the impact to competition. The SCC will review the appeal court’s approach to the efficiencies analysis.

Read the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision

Related news story:
Calgary energy company ordered to sell B.C. landfill, CBC

March 28 — Quebec — Commission des normes du travail v. Asphalte Desjardins

Employment law: An employee of Asphalte Desjardins resigned in 2008, giving the company three weeks’ notice. The company, however, decided to waive the notice and terminate employment immediately. The Commission des normes du travail instituted a proceeding that would require Asphalte to pay the employee during the notice period, which was longstanding jurisprudence in Quebec. On appeal, however, the court reasoned that termination notice was intended to protect the employer, not the employee, and could be waived. The SCC will review whether the findings are compatible with articles of the Civil Code.

Read the Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision

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