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. Nissen v. Durham Regional Police, 2015 ONSC 1268

[1] In a criminal law context, “informer” privilege is almost absolute. What this means is that a person who provides information to police about actual or suspected criminal activity, in exchange for a promise of anonymity, is guaranteed that anonymity will be preserved. It is only where innocence is at stake that the privilege must give way. In any litigation, whether civil or criminal, the police, the Crown and the courts must protect the privilege. Even the right to full disclosure, which is part of the constitutional right to make full answer and defence, will not override the privilege.

[2] In this case, the court is confronted with the civil consequences of a breach of the privilege. Where the privilege is not observed, is the now-disclosed informer entitled to civil damages? That is the issue confronting the court in this case.

2. Jacobson v. Skurka, 2015 ONSC 1699

[70] In my opinion, most if not all of the evidentiary details provided by Mr. Skurka cannot be justified by the purposes of particulars. The evidentiary details are the means by which Mr. Skurka intends to prove his defence that he was not negligent or in breach of fiduciary duty and his allegation that Mr. Jacobson suffered no damages because he is not an innocent man. The above analysis reveals that much of the so-called particulars are just a responsive polemic that will just provoke a further polemic in the Reply and Defence to the Counterclaim.

[71] For these reasons, I strike the Statement of Defence and Counterclaim in its entirety with leave to deliver a Fresh as Amended Statement of Defence and Counterclaim.

3. Loyola High School v. Quebec (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 12

[1] Since September 2008, as part of the mandatory core curriculum in schools across Quebec, the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports has required a Program on Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC), which teaches about the beliefs and ethics of different world religions from a neutral and objective perspective. Like all courses in the mandatory curriculum, the Minister may grant private schools an exemption from the ERC Program if they offer an alternative program that the Minister deems to be equivalent.

[2] This appeal results from a judicial review of the Minister’s decision to deny an exemption sought by a private, Catholic school. The Minister based her decision on the fact that the school’s whole proposed program was to be taught from a Catholic perspective. It was not, as a result, “equivalent” to the ERC Program. The school submits that this is an interference with its religious freedom. The Minister submits that it is a necessary strategy to ensure that students are knowledgeable about and respectful of the differences of others. In a sense, they are both right…

The most-consulted French-language decision was École secondaire Loyola c. Québec (Procureur général), 2015 CSC 12:

[1] Depuis septembre 2008, le ministre de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport exige que le programme Éthique et culture religieuse (ÉCR) soit intégré aux matières obligatoires pour l’ensemble des écoles du Québec. Dans le cadre de ce programme, on présente, d’un point de vue neutre et objectif, les croyances et l’éthique de différentes religions du monde. Comme pour tous les cours du programme obligatoire, le ministre peut exempter certaines écoles privées du programme ÉCR si elles offrent un programme de remplacement qu’il juge équivalent.

[2] Le présent pourvoi résulte du contrôle judiciaire d’une décision de la ministre refusant une telle exemption à une école privée catholique. La ministre a fondé sa décision sur le fait que l’ensemble du programme proposé par l’école allait être enseigné selon une perspective catholique. Par conséquent, le programme n’était pas « équivalent » au programme ÉCR. L’école soutient que cette intervention de la ministre porte atteinte à sa liberté de religion. La ministre plaide que la neutralité de l’enseignement constitue une stratégie nécessaire pour s’assurer que les élèves connaissent et respectent les différences. En un sens, la ministre et l’école ont toutes deux raison . . .

* 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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