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. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v. Harkat, 2014 SCC 37

[1] The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (collectively, “the ministers”) seek to have Mohamed Harkat, a non-citizen, declared inadmissible to Canada. Mr. Harkat is alleged to have come to Canada for the purpose of engaging in terrorism. He has been detained, or living under strict conditions, for over a decade. He potentially faces deportation to a country where he may be at risk of torture or death, although the constitutionality of his deportation in such circumstances is not before us in the present appeal.

[2] The reasonableness of the ministers’ decision to declare Mr. Harkat inadmissible to Canada is subject to judicial review, under Division 9 of Part 1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27 (the “IRPA scheme”). This scheme prevents Mr. Harkat from seeing some of the evidence and information tendered against him, because its public disclosure would harm national security.

[3] The issue in this appeal is whether the IRPA scheme complies with the Constitution, in particular the guarantee in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms against unjustifiable intrusions on life, liberty, and security of the person. More specifically, this appeal asks whether the IRPA scheme gives Mr. Harkat a fair opportunity to defend himself against the allegations made by the ministers, despite the fact that national security considerations prevent him from seeing the entire record and from personally participating in all of the hearings. It requires us to determine how far the principle of full disclosure in an open court can be qualified in order to address the threat posed by non-citizens who may be involved in terrorism.

2. John Doe v. Ontario (Finance), 2014 SCC 36

[1] Access to information legislation serves an important public interest: accountability of government to the citizenry. An open and democratic society requires public access to government information to enable public debate on the conduct of government institutions.

[2] However, as with all rights recognized in law, the right of access to information is not unbounded. All Canadian access to information statutes balance access to government information with the protection of other interests that would be adversely affected by otherwise unbridled disclosure of such information.

[3] The present appeal centers on a limitation of the right of access to government information in Ontario. Section 13(1) of the 1988 Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31 (“Act” or “FIPPA”), provides that a head of a government institution “may refuse to disclose a record where the disclosure would reveal advice or recommendations of a public servant . . .”. The Court is now called upon to determine whether a record containing policy options falls within the terms “advice” or “recommendations” in s. 13(1) and qualifies for exemption from disclosure. An Adjudicator in the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (“IPC”) ordered disclosure of the government records at issue in this appeal. The Adjudicator found that they did not qualify as advice or recommendations under s. 13(1). In my respectful opinion, the Adjudicator’s decision was unreasonable and cannot stand.

2. Pedlar v McDevitt, 2014 CanLII 23865

46. The ordinary rule in the purchase of real estate is Caveat Emptor, or let the buyer beware with respect to patent defects, those defects which are readily ascertainable upon inspection. The ordinary rule does not apply in some cases where the defect is not patent, but latent.

47. In Capel and Martin, (2008) CanLII 13612 (ONSC) a latent defect is described as follows:
A “latent defect” as it relates to the case at bar is in effect some fault in the structure that is not readily apparent to an ordinary purchaser during a routine inspection. And ordinarily, if a vendor actively conceals a latent defect, the rule of caveat emptor no longer applies and the purchaser is entitled, at their option, to ask for a rescission of the contract or compensation for damages.”

48. The parties agree that the problem with the sewer pipe was a latent defect, in that it was not readily apparent to a purchaser upon routine inspection.

The most-consulted French-language decision was Dionne c. Commission scolaire des Patriotes, 2014 CSC 33

[1] La législation québécoise sur la santé et la sécurité du travail, de pair avec la législation sur les accidents du travail et les maladies professionnelles, crée un régime conçu pour assurer la sécurité financière des travailleurs qui doivent se retirer temporairement de l’effectif pour éviter un travail dangereux. Le présent pourvoi concerne une enseignante suppléante enceinte qui s’est retirée d’un lieu de travail dangereux en raison des risques pour elle et son enfant à naître, ce qui a amené un tribunal administratif à conclure qu’elle n’avait pas droit, pour cette raison, aux indemnités de remplacement du revenu prévues par la loi. À mon avis, cette conclusion fait échec aux objectifs du régime et pénalise les femmes enceintes qui font précisément ce que prescrit le régime législatif, c’est‑à‑dire éviter les risques pour la santé au lieu de travail pendant la grossesse.


[2] La Loi sur la santé et la sécurité du travail, RLRQ ch. S‑2.1, énonce des mesures de protection particulières en matière de santé et de sécurité qui permettent aux femmes enceintes de refuser d’effectuer des tâches dans des conditions qui mettraient en danger leur santé ou leur sécurité ou celles de leur enfant à naître, et d’être affectées à d’autres tâches pour éviter ces risques. Si la réaffectation est impossible, elles ont le droit de cesser de travailler et de recevoir des indemnités de remplacement du revenu pendant leur grossesse. Ces droits sont énoncés aux art. 40 et 41 de la Loi :

40. Une travailleuse enceinte qui fournit à l’employeur un certificat attestant que les conditions de son travail comportent des dangers physiques pour l’enfant à naître ou, à cause de son état de grossesse, pour elle‑même, peut demander d’être affectée à des tâches ne comportant pas de tels dangers et qu’elle est raisonnablement en mesure d’accomplir.

. . .

41. Si l’affectation demandée n’est pas effectuée immédiatement, la travailleuse peut cesser de travailler jusqu’à ce que l’affectation soit faite ou jusqu’à la date de son accouchement.

On entend par « accouchement », la fin d’une grossesse par la mise au monde d’un enfant viable ou non, naturellement ou par provocation médicale légale.

[3] Pour avoir droit à une réaffectation, la travailleuse enceinte doit présenter à son employeur un « certificat visant le retrait préventif et l’affectation de la travailleuse enceinte ou qui allaite » établi par un médecin qui confirme le danger du lieu de travail.

* 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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