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. R. v. Cody, 2017 SCC 31

[1] In R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27 (CanLII), [2016] 1 S.C.R. 631, this Court identified a culture of complacency towards delay in the criminal justice system. This culture was fostered by doctrinal and practical difficulties plaguing the analytical framework then applicable to the right of accused persons, guaranteed under s. 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to be tried within a reasonable time. This appeal is yet another example of why change is necessary. From the time the appellant James Cody was charged with drugs and weapons offences until his five-day trial was scheduled to begin (prior to the release of this Court’s decision in Jordan), fully five years passed. As we will explain, the Crown, the defence and the system each contributed to that delay. This leads us to stress, as the Court did in Jordan, that every actor in the justice system has a responsibility to ensure that criminal proceedings are carried out in a manner that is consistent with an accused person’s right to a trial within a reasonable time.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

2. Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corp., 2017 SCC 30

[1] Ian Stewart worked in a mine operated by the Elk Valley Coal Corporation, driving a loader. The mine operations were dangerous, and maintaining a safe worksite was a matter of great importance to the employer and employees. The employer implemented an Alcohol, Illegal Drugs & Medication Policy, aimed at ensuring safety in the mine (“Policy”). Employees were expected to disclose any dependence or addiction issues before any drug-related incident occurred. If they did, they would be offered treatment. However, if they failed to disclose and were involved in an incident and tested positive for drugs, they would be terminated — a policy succinctly dubbed the “no free accident” rule. The aim of the Policy was to ensure safety by encouraging employees with substance abuse problems to come forward and obtain treatment before their problems compromised safety. Employees, including Mr. Stewart, attended a training session at which the Policy was reviewed and explained. Mr. Stewart signed a form acknowledging receipt and understanding of the Policy.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

3. R v Blanchard, 2017 ABQB 369

[230] Further, the exercise time and the available stimuli for inmates in the max pod units are wholly inadequate, particularly given the 23 hour lockup in a 90 square foot cell. I do not understand why efforts are not made to ensure that inmates in these units are provided with sufficient legitimate exercise time and stimulation for their physical and mental wellbeing. The provision of a television and adequate reading material as well as other mental stimuli would do nothing but assist in both creating a more humane environment and possibly reducing conflict. With respect to the initial plan to install television sets in each cell and the subsequent reversal of that decision, it was never explained why the funds in the IWF which were sufficient to fund the installations could still not be used for that purpose. Inmates should also be afforded real exercise time with proper exercise equipment and, when the weather permits, time in the real fresh air as opposed to a “fresh air room”. Notwithstanding the fact that inmates at the ERC are lawfully in custody, they are presumed innocent until proven guilty and there is no basis to punish them by depriving them of reasonable living conditions except to the extent necessary to address safety and security concerns.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

The most-consulted French-language decision was R. c. Cody, 2017 CSC 31

[1] Dans l’arrêt R. c. Jordan, 2016 CSC 27 (CanLII), [2016] 1 R.C.S. 631, la Cour a constaté l’existence d’une culture de complaisance à l’égard des délais dans le système de justice criminelle. Les difficultés sur les plans théorique et pratique qui affligeaient le cadre d’analyse alors applicable au droit d’être jugé dans un délai raisonnable garanti aux inculpés par l’al. 11b) de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés ont contribué à cette culture. Ce pourvoi illustre une fois de plus pourquoi un changement est nécessaire. Entre le moment où l’appelant James Cody a été accusé d’infractions liées aux drogues et aux armes et la date à laquelle son procès de cinq jours devait commencer (date antérieure à l’arrêt Jordan de notre Cour), cinq années complètes se sont écoulées. Comme nous l’expliquerons plus loin, tant le ministère public que la défense et le système ont contribué à ce délai. Cela nous amène à réitérer ce que notre Cour a précisé dans Jordan, à savoir que chaque acteur au sein du système judiciaire a la responsabilité de s’assurer que les procédures criminelles se déroulent de manière compatible avec le droit de l’inculpé d’être jugé dans un délai raisonnable.

(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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