This week at the SCC

This week, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear five appeals, including a challenge by CP Rail against unilateral regulation without industry consultation; three appeals related to the jurisdiction of courts martial; and the third in a series of cases involving Omar Khadr and the government of Canada.

supreme courtMay 11 – Federal – CP Rail v. Canada

Administrative law: CP Rail is challenging the authority of the executive branch of government over regulators, in this case the Canadian Transportation Agency. In 2014, government passed the Fair Grain Farmers Act, which gives farmers increased access to rail capacity. CP alleges, while the act extends the agency’s discretion to make regulations, it has pursued the government’s agenda without engaging with the industry or conducting assessments that CP argues are necessary. The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed CP’s application for leave without issuing reasons; an oral hearing is mandated by the Supreme Court Act.

Related news stories:
CP fights back over Ottawa’s new railway regulations, The Globe and Mail

CP sues Ottawa over interswitching, The Western Producer

May 12 – Federal – Moriarty v. R. and Vezina v. R.

Charter of rights: These cases involve criminal acts committed by members of the armed forces. In the first case, the applicant was convicted of sexual exploitation of a lower-ranked officer. In the second case, the applicant was convicted of drug trafficking. The applicants have challenged the constitutionality of the National Defence Act and the jurisdiction of the court martial in such circumstances. The SCC will review whether the “military nexus doctrine,” which grants jurisdiction to the court martial, is valid under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Read the Court Martial Appeal Court’s decisions in Moriarty, and Vezina

May 12 – Federal – Arsenault v. R.

Charter of rights: This appeal is being heard with Moriarty and Vezina but does not involve the military nexus doctrine. The applicant is an officer who was charged with fraud under the National Defence Act for false statements related to expenses. He argues the applicable provisions under the NDA are overbroad and thus violate his Charter rights to life, liberty, and security.

Read the Court Martial Appeal Court’s decision

May 14 – Alberta – Pelham v. Khadr

Criminal law: Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen who, at the age of 15, was found in Afghanistan fighting for a terrorist organization. He pled guilty in the U.S. to multiple counts of murder and terrorism-related crimes and was sentenced to eight years. After one year, Khadr applied under the International Transfer of Offenders Act to be transferred to Canada. Correction officials determined that he would serve the remainder of his sentence in a federal correctional facility. He was released on bail last week. Khadr applied for habeas corpus on the grounds that the ITOA mandated that transferred prisoners who committed their crimes as youths be allowed to serve their sentences in provincial facilities.

Read the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision

Related news stories:
Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal over Omar Khadr status, Toronto Star

Third Supreme Court showdown looms for Omar Khadr, Ottawa Citizen

May 15 – Quebec – R. v. Lacasse

Criminal law: Tommy Lacasse was an 18-year-old who pleaded guilty to impaired driving in an incident that killed two friends sitting in the back seat of his car. He was sentenced to six years and six months and a prohibition from operating a motor vehicle for 11 years. The appeal court reduced his sentence, giving precedence to the principle that sentences should accord with types of offenders. The SCC will review whether the appeal court erred in this respect.

Read the Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision

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