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Archive for ‘Substantive Law’

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

Ontario Seeking Input on Certain Upcoming Employment and Labour Law Rules

Ontario Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 received second reading on October 18 and was sent to Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs for further review and possible additional amendments.

Before the Bill received second reading, three draft regulations for public consultation were tabled at the Ontario Regulatory Registry to support the implementation of the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act amendments under Bill 148. In addition, as part of the employment and labour standards review that brought about the changes found in Bill 148, the Ontario government is seeking public input to help make workplaces . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

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

Improving Outcomes in Family Law

The barriers to access to justice in the arena of family law have been well-researched and frequently commented upon, both on these pages and in a myriad of academic papers and government commissioned reports. For the most part, I feel like there’s really not much left to add.

I’ve read the research. I’ve practiced in the area. I’ve spoken and assisted self-representing parties. I’ve delivered public legal education sessions on the subject. And I’ve concluded, quite some time ago, that what’s needed more than anything else in this area, is massive systemic reform. Family law processes and the laws that . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Quebec’s Religious Neutrality of the State Bill Passed

An amended version of Bill 62, An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests in certain bodies to foster respect for religious neutrality of the state and aimed in particular to frame requests for religious accommodations in certain organizations passed third reading on October 18, 2017, with a vote of 66-51. It is now awaiting royal assent to become law. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

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

October 1, 2017 and Upcoming Minimum Wage Increases

Five Canadian provinces are increasing the general minimum wage rate October 1, 2017 as follows: Alberta ($13.60), Manitoba ($11.15), Newfoundland and Labrador ($11.00), Ontario ($11.60) and Saskatchewan ($10.96). The general minimum wage rate increase results in corresponding increases to other rates in the respective provinces.

Note that British Columbia’s general minimum wage increased September 15, 2017 to $11.35 per hour. Other provincial minimum wage rates were also adjusted at that time. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

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