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Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week:

1. Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v. Canada (Minister of Justice), 2000 SCC 69 (CanLII), [2000] 2 SCR 1120

71 The appellants say a regulatory structure that is open to the level of maladministration described in the trial judgment is unconstitutionally underprotective of their constitutional rights and should be struck down in its entirety. In effect they argue that Parliament was required to proceed by way of legislation rather than the creation of a delegated power of regulation in s. 164(1)(j), which authorizes the Governor in Council to “make regulations . . . generally, to carry out the purposes and provisions of this Act”, or by ministerial directive. My colleague Iacobucci J. accepts the propositions that “[t]his Court’s precedents demand sufficient safeguards in the legislative scheme itself to ensure that government action will not infringe constitutional rights” (para. 204) and because “the legislation makes no reasonable effort to ensure that it will be applied constitutionally to expressive materials” (para. 211), Code 9956 should be struck from the Customs Tariff. I do not think there is any constitutional rule that requires Parliament to deal with Customs’ treatment of constitutionally protected expressive material by legislation (as the appellants contend) rather than by way of regulation (as Parliament contemplated in s. 164(1)(j)) or even by ministerial directive or departmental practice. Parliament is entitled to proceed on the basis that its enactments “will be applied constitutionally” by the public service.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

2. Josta Plywood Sales Ltd. v Tracy Lind, 2020 CanLII 32308 (AB ESU)

[83] The Appeal Body has considered the Appellant’s contention that the burden of clarification ought not to apply as strictly in the retail industry where employee turnover is higher and employees often quit without notice. As noted in BeaverLodge, the burden of professionalism can be a tremendous nuisance to a busy employer and the Appeal Body acknowledges that this is perhaps even more so in the retail industry. However, as noted in Carroll, an employee who voluntarily resigns has not been dismissed and has no remedy through a wrongful dismissal claim. An employee who voluntarily resigns likewise has no entitlement to termination or severance pay. These consequences exist regardless of the industry in which an employee works. As such, the Appeal Body sees no compelling reason to relieve the Appellant or other employers in the retail industry of their duties of clarification and professionalism.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

3. Newfoundland and Labrador (Attorney General) v. Uashaunnuat (Innu of Uashat and of Mani‑Utenam), 2020 SCC 4 (CanLII)

[35] There is no doubt that Aboriginal title is fundamentally concerned with land. And it is tempting to conclude that Aboriginal title is a purely real right, as its name suggests. But to do so would ignore the fact that Aboriginal title is also firmly grounded in the relationships formed by the confluence of prior occupation and the assertion of sovereignty by the Crown: Tsilhqot’in Nation, at para. 72. Sovereignty assured the Crown underlying title to all land in the provinces, but the content of that title has always been burdened by the pre-existing rights of Aboriginal peoples which preceded those of the provinces: paras. 69-70; Constitution Act, 1867, s. 109. The nature of the fiduciary relationship arising from the interplay of these rights, steeped as it is in the history of settlement, is what gives rise to the other obligations flowing from the honour of the Crown that are part and parcel of Aboriginal title. Those obligations are clearly more akin to personal rights.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

The most-consulted French-language decision was Larivière c. Roy, 2018 QCCQ 3803 (CanLII)

[18] Dans le dossier à l’étude, les demandeurs remettent au défendeur, avant la signature de l’offre d’achat, un formulaire de déclaration du vendeur. Comme dans l’affaire Guertin c. Parent précitée, ils y déclarent notamment que la résidence n’est pas située dans une zone inondable et qu’ils ne sont au courant d’aucun problème environnemental (article 10.6). Ils ajoutent qu’à leur connaissance, il n’y a pas eu de problèmes reliés au sol tels que glissement, affaissement ou instabilité de sol affectant l’immeuble (article 3.1). Ils précisent toutefois que des travaux d’installation de murets de stationnement ont été exécutés (article 3.4). De plus, l’offre d’achat (article 5.1) confirme que l’immeuble ne fait pas l’objet de limitations de droit public échappant au droit commun (ex. : règlements municipaux de zonage et de lotissement, Loi sur les biens culturels[3], Loi sur la protection du territoire et des activités agricoles[4], Loi sur la protection de l’environnement[5] et leurs règlements).

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

* As of January 2014 we measure the total amount of time spent on the pages rather than simply the number of hits; as well, a case once mentioned won’t appear again for three months.

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