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. Marakah, 2017 SCC 59

[1] Can Canadians ever reasonably expect the text messages they send to remain private, even after the messages have reached their destination? Or is the state free, regardless of the circumstances, to access text messages from a recipient’s device without a warrant? The question in this appeal is whether the guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure in s. 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms can ever apply to such messages.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

2. R. v. Christiansen, 2017 ONCA 941

[10] General warrants under s. 487.01 authorize the use of investigative techniques, procedures or devices, or other things to be done, that would otherwise constitute unreasonable searches. Subsection 487.01(c) restricts general warrants to cases where “there is no other [legislation] that would provide for a warrant, authorization or order permitting the technique, procedure or device to be used or the thing to be done.” The Supreme Court dealt with this legislative restriction in R. v. TELUS Communications Co., 2013 SCC 16 (CanLII), [2013] 2 S.C.R. 3, [2013] S.C.J. No. 16. Justice Moldaver explained, at para. 80, that this requirement ensures that general warrants are to be used “sparingly” when the “investigative technique is truly different in substance from an investigative technique accounted for by another legislative provision.” He explained that s. 487.01(c) serves to ensure that “general warrants may not be used as a means to circumvent other authorization provisions that are available but contain more onerous pre-conditions.”

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

3. Unifor, Local 707A v Suncor Energy Inc, 2017 ABQB 752

[57] As was highlighted in the Irving decision, privacy rights of workers are as important as safety concerns. In particular, the taking of bodily samples from anyone engages important constitutional issues.

[58] If the Union is ultimately successful in the arbitration process, I do not accept that the impact on the privacy and dignity of the workers could be remedied.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

The most-consulted French-language decision was Sorella c. R., 2017 QCCA 1908

[72] L’appelante craint essentiellement que le jury n’ait pas compris l’importante distinction entre l’homicide coupable par acte criminel et celui par négligence criminelle, le premier pouvant donner ouverture à un verdict de meurtre, alors que le second engendre, au plus, un verdict d’homicide involontaire coupable. La règle de l’unanimité empêchait alors que le jury soit partagé entre l’une et l’autre de ces issues possibles. L’intimée, en lisant simultanément les directives et l’arbre de décision distribué au jury, estime que le jury a été bien guidé.

(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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