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Archive for ‘Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions’

An Algorithm’s Charter Rights

Everywhere I go during the holidays I seem to be surrounded by Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant. While these computers don’t yet talk the way do, it did have me thinking about the expression rights that might be protected by the Charter.

In 1996, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in Daniel J. Bernstein et al., v. United States Department of State et al. that software source could be protected under the American First Amendment,

…the particular language one chooses change the nature of language for First Amendment purposes. This court can

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology

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

📆 What You Were Looking at in 2017: CanLII’s Top Cases

[This post is being published simultaneously on our blog]

At the end of a year that saw the news take a more central role in our lives and when so much is uncertain, some things remain constant and one of them is the list of cases that is most accessed on CanLII. All of the top three cases were in the top three last year, and only one of the top 10 cases was issued in 2017. Eight of the cases were on the list last year. Six of the cases are the same as were on . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Charter Protects Freedom of Belief, Not Objects of Belief

Canada has not had an entirely disassociated relationship with religion, from its inception.

The British monarch, who is the symbolic head of Canada, also holds the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. The 2011 census estimates over 1.5 million Canadians, or 5% of the population, are Anglican today, making this relationship with the church not entirely insignificant.

The monarch’s Oath of Accession includes a promise to “maintain and preserve the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government,” meaning that religious plurality is also built into this symbolic role given his . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

A Rhetorical Question for Canadian Appellate Counsel

If you were appearing before your jurisdiction’s Court of Appeal and:

  1.  you didn’t mention one of the Court’s own decisions decided within the year, deciding one of the central issues in the case you were on; or
  2.  mentioned that case but on another point without mentioning that it had decided the issue in your case; or
  3. relied on a decision of your Court of Appeal for a proposition which had been rejected by the Supreme Court in at least 3 decisions after that Court of Appeal decision and (you did so) without mentioning the SCC decisions on point; or
  4. argued
. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Employers Can Be Found Liable for Negative Employment References

Two recent cases out of Ontario’s Superior Court, Papp v Stokes Economic Consulting Inc., (Papp) and Kanak v Riggin, (Kanak), provide guidance to employers on avoiding liability when giving employment references. Although in both Papp and Kanak the employers were cleared of any liability, both cases confirm that employers can be found liable for defamation when providing a negative reference. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Judging and the Depletion Effect

“Justice is what the judge ate for breakfast”. – Judge Jerome Frank

In Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman Nobel Prize winner explains this phenomenon. In a study of parole judges, the researchers plotted the proportion of approved requests for parole against the time since the last food break. It was found that the prospect of someone being granted parole changed during the elapsed time between food breaks.

The cases before the parole judges were presented in random order. Each case took around 6 minutes to hear. After each meal, the proportion of people granted parole increased.

Kahneman explained . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Compliment or Sexual Harassment: Where Do You Draw the Line?

Written wholly by Doug Macleod Employment and labour lawyer at MacLeod Law on First Reference Talks

Despite a number of legislative initiatives that are intended to reduce and ultimately eliminate sexual harassment in society, sexual harassment continues to be a problem in Ontario’s workplaces.

One of the more nuanced areas of sexual harassment law is what kind of language a male can direct towards a woman in the workplace. Sometimes there is a fine line between complimenting a female co-worker and sexually harassing her.

An occasional non-sexualized compliment is usually not a problem but a comment of a sexual nature . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Perceptions Matter, but Reality Matters More

Judges are not immune from scrutiny, but we should be cautious in the manner in which we exert that scrutiny.

Sometimes that scrutiny is thrust directly into the public forum, as with Justice Zabel’s incident on Nov. 9, 2016, when he wore a hat from the American president’s election campaign.

Lawyers were upset, understandably, as there were legitimate concerns about political partisanship generally, but also about the appearance of bias towards any of the historically marginalized or radicalized groups that the presidential candidate had made offensive comments about. The public were even more concerned, especially where a Canadian judge appeared . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Tribunal Addresses Disabled Employee Resignations

In addition to affirming that an employee’s resignation must be clear and unequivocal to be valid, this case tells us that employers do not have a greater onus when it comes to long-term disabled employees who resign. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal did not accept the employee’s claim that it was unreasonable in the circumstances for her employer to conclude that she wished to resign without further inquiry. . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

New MMS.watch Website Tracks Constitutionality of Canadian Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Mandatory minimum sentences (MMS) for criminal and drug offences have been getting a lot of attention lately. The federal government recently conducted a public survey on MMS, causing some commentators to wonder whether the Liberals will make good on their campaign promises to roll back the MMS created by the previous government. The question is timely since Parliament resumes next week. Even StatsCan’s excellent Juristat weighed in last month with a detailed analysis of the effects of MMS.

We noticed that much of this debate was happening without reference to just how many MMS have already been struck down as . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation