First Nation Councillor candidate challenged residency requirements before Supreme Court of Canada

CHRC claimed no jurisdiction in discrimination against visually- and hearing-impaired Canadians

First Nation Councillor candidate challenged residency requirements before Supreme Court of Canada
Law firms appearing for the week ending October 15, 2022

Cases heard before the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Appeal this week included the constitutionality of residency requirements, assessment infringement of individual rights, and human rights of the visual and hearing-impaired.

Supreme Court of Canada heard residency requirements for elections and individual assessment of constitutional rights this week.

Cindy Dickson v. Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (Yukon Territory), 39856, concerned the constitutionality of a residency requirement for elections. Cindy Dickson, a member of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN), sought candidacy as a Councillor. However, the VGFN constitution specified that any Councillor must reside in the settlement land, and if they were a non-resident, they must relocate to the settlement lands within 14 days of election day. The VGFN council declined to remove the residency requirement and rejected Dickson’s candidacy. Dickson sought a declaration that the residency requirement is inconsistent with her right to equality under the Charter. The chambers judge held that the requirement did not infringe the Charter.

Infringement of the right to counsel was also considered in Daniel Brunelle, et al. v. His Majesty the King (Quebec), 39917. Daniel Brunelle and several others were arrested for large scale trafficking of cannabis at the same time in more than one judicial district. They were divided into four groups for separate trials. The chambers judge in one of the groups stayed their proceedings for abuse of process due to the infringement of several rights, primarily their right to counsel. The parties agreed that the decision would apply to the other groups, and thus, the other proceedings were stayed. On appeal, the appellate court ordered a new trial. It ruled that the trial judge had to assess the situation of each accused and assess whether each individual’s constitutional rights had been infringed.

Federal Court

In Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians v. Attorney General of Canada, A-242-21, the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) applied for a Social Development Partnership Program Disability funding grant. The program was offered by the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). However, the ESDC rejected AEBC’s application stating that they failed to prove that their members had lived experience with disability. AEBC filed a human rights complaint alleging that ESDC’s online application discriminated against the blind, deafblind, and partially sighted individuals. The Canadian Human Rights Commission dismissed the complaint, stating that it did not have jurisdiction and a corporation cannot file complaints under 41(1)(d) of the CHRA. The applications judge also dismissed AEBC’s application for judicial review, stating that the Commission’s decision was reasonable.

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