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Archive for December, 2017

The Healthy Respect Between Judiciary and Executive

As we enter 2018, we begin the new year with a new Chief Justice, and an opportunity to reflect on the Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin’s 17 years in this role, the longest in the entire history of Canada.

A well-experienced jurist, who has been on the bench since 1981, her role on the Court has had a discernible impact on the development of the Charter and its interpretation. The Charter is one of the most important national symbols of Canada, outranking even the flag, the national anthem, the RCMP, and even more than hockey. The CBA Presidents who . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Summaries Sunday: Supreme Advocacy

On one Sunday each month we bring you a summary from Supreme Advocacy LLP of recent decisions at the Supreme Court of Canada. Supreme Advocacy LLP offers a weekly electronic newsletter, Supreme Advocacy Letter, to which you may subscribe. It’s a summary of all appeals as well as leaves to appeal granted so you will know what the SCC will soon be dealing with (November 24 to December 29, 2017 inclusive).


Aboriginal Law: Treaty Rights
First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun v.Yukon, 2017 SCC 58 (36779)

Yukon did not here have the authority to make the extensive . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Expanding the Role of Law School Clinics: Bonkalo and the House of Commons

Two recent reports have recommended expanding the role of law school clinics. The first was the Bonkalo Report released earlier this year which made recommendations for reform to the family law system in Ontario. The second was the recent report of the House of Commons Justice and Human Rights Committee, which examined the legal aid system in Canada.

Justice Bonkalo’s report (discussed in an earlier column) had this to say about family law programs at Ontario’s student legal clinics:

I was very impressed by the extensive and important work undertaken by law students, supported by lawyers, who are obviously committed

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Education

Mental Health and Law Students: Addressing the Issue One Step at a Time

We do know that studying law is a stressful process: demanding curriculum, competitive environment, exacting professors. The world of Law schools is hard-core for many students. In fact, research shows that worldwide, law students are among the more prompt to psychological distress and mental health difficulties across all faculties’ students. In line with initiatives taken by Ontario law schools to support students’ mental wellbeing, the Civil Law Section at University of Ottawa started this year a pilot project to tackle first year students’ stress and anxiety. This project was also motivated by the fact that our students have a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

Learning From BC’s Troubling Experiments With “Professional Reliance” in Environmental (De)Regulation

Asking questions about professional reliance in BC

BC’s new NDP government recently announced a wide-ranging review of “professional reliance.” Environment and Climate Change Minister, George Heyman, was accompanied at the announcement by Green MLA Sonia Furstenau, who has been on the forefront of pressing for this review after her own experience (prior to her election) in opposing contaminated soil disposal in her own community.

West Coast Environmental Law welcomes this review, which has the potential to improve legal protection for human health and the environment by addressing a major approach to deregulation that has been implemented in BC over the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Courts of the Future and the Aging Population

“Images of the future are shaped by experiences of the past.” – Michael Lewis in the Undoing Project

The Globe and Mail recently reported about the court’s obstacles with handling an aging population. The article is titled: “Case of Calgary man with dementia highlights challenges courts face as population ages

The defendant Fred Van Zuiden recently turned 87 years old. He grew up in Nazi-occuped Holland. As a young Jewish boy he hid in strangers’ homes and a chicken coop. In October 2016, he was charged with second-degree murder of his wife. He called 911 after his wife’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Copyright in Seismic Data

The seismic industry is of considerable significance to Canada’s oil and gas business. In Geophysical Service Incorporated v Encana Corporation, 2016 ABQB 230 the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench had an opportunity to assess both claims to copyright in seismic data and the power of certain regulatory boards to release copies of such data to the public.

The Court of Queen’s Bench found seismic data was protectable under Copyright law but also found that the conduct of the applicable boards under the legislative schemes authorized their conduct and legitimized their dealing with the copyright works. The decision pertaining to . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Sears Shortcomings Highlight Regulatory Deficiencies

The Canadian Press conducted a survey recently of journalists, nearly 47% of whom voted the closure and controversies of Sears Canada as the 2017 Business News Story of the Year.

The public interest in the story was fuelled in no small part by its iconic status, but also the $270-million pension deficit that is unlikely to be fully serviced in light of other outstanding debts. As Michael Powell, incoming president of the Canadian Federation of Pensioners points out, it really shouldn’t be so significant,

Sears should not be the Canadian Press 2017 Business News Story of the Year

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a Québec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the Québec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

PÉNAL (DROIT) : Adèle Sorella, que le jury avait déclarée coupable de meurtre au premier degré de ses filles de huit et neuf ans, voit ces verdicts annulés; la Cour d’appel ordonne la tenue d’un nouveau procès.

Intitulé : Sorella c. R., 2017 QCCA 1908
Juridiction : Cour d’appel (C.A.), . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Marketing

This column gets published on December 22, when just about the last thing anyone will be doing is reading a column about marketing a law practice. That’s the Friday when everyone who hasn’t already taken off for the holidays is trying frantically to get out of the office by noon for the final frenetic round of shopping. Still, I have to assume that you’ll be back in the cold light of January and looking for something to kick-start the engines for another year. So here are ten New Year’s resolutions to rejuvenate your marketing plan for 2018.

1. Set a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

📈 2017 — CanLII Connects’ Year

This is CanLII Connects’ 4th year end, and it’s gratifying to see the ongoing growth on the site. CanLII Connects contributors have written about 39,000 cases, that cover 150 years of Canadian caselaw from the first decision issued by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1867 to last week.

Here are the top commentaries and summaries from the last year:

Trinity Western: Did the Chief Justice of Canada make an illegal (or questionable) order?’ – Trinity Western University, et al. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2017 CanLII 8575 (SCC), by Patrick F. Baud and Maxime . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Thursday Thinkpiece: Neil Guthrie on Better Legal Writing

Periodically on Thursdays, we present a significant excerpt, usually from a recently published book or journal article. In every case the proper permissions have been obtained. If you are a publisher who would like to participate in this feature, please let us know via the site’s contact form.


Author: Neil Guthrie

ISBN: 978-1-55221-472-5
Publisher: Irwin Law
Page Count: 200 pp
Publication Date: December 2017

Regular Price: $55

© 2017 Irwin Law. All rights reserved.

Excerpt: Preface.


This book began out of frustration.

Frustration at the turgid, pedantic, Latin-filled, jargon-ridden, misspelt, ungrammatical, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece