Legal Feeds Blog
Probe into Parliament Hill shooter's rifle stumps RCMP, Canadian Press
Wife of man accused of killing daughter says he was abusive, Canadian Press
|Amir Torabi (left) and Nick Rossi get ready for the competition at the Hockey Arbitration Competition of Canada.|
Two teams from the Queen’s University Faculty of Law, a team from Syracuse University, and one from the University of Calgary have taken the lead in the two-day competition in Toronto.
The event is a moot competition for law students designed to simulate the salary arbitration procedures used in the National Hockey League. Teams represent one of three real-life NHL players who went through the salary arbitration process this summer. Each team takes one side of the case — the club or player — and they compete by writing briefs and making arguments on the fairness of the salary amount the player stands to receive.
This year, the players included forward Marcus Johansson of the Washington Capitals, whose midpoint salary is $3.75-million; defence man, Justin Schultz of the Edmonton Oilers, whose midpoint salary was $3.9 million; and Mike Hoffman, a forward with the Ottawa Senators whose midpoint salary was $2 million.
Nicholas Rossi, then a third-year student at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and this year’s competition judge, created the moot in 2012.
“I got to see first-hand the quality of the competition, and the level of competition was high,” says Rossi.
He originally got the idea for the moot in his first year at the Tulane University Law School in New Orleans where a similar event took place with a focus on baseball rather than hockey.
After transferring to U of T for his second year, Rossi wanted to do something similar in Canada knowing that “people love hockey and there would be a big market for it.”
This year’s arbitration includes 32 teams with representatives from most of the law schools in Ontario and from several provinces such as Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, and Quebec.
The interest in the moot is extremely high because “people are very passionate about hockey,” says Rossi.
This week, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear an assortment of four appeals. Three of these are criminal dealing with dangerous driving, bestiality, and the inferred credibility. The court will also be looking at contractual clauses that demand higher interest-rate payments upon default.
Nov. 9 — British Columbia — R. v. D.L.W.
Criminal law: The respondent was convicted of bestiality. At trial, he argued that no actual penetration had occurred. The conviction was overturned on appeal, with one judge in dissent. The Supreme Court will review whether bestiality necessarily includes penetration. A publication ban is in place.
Read the British Columbia appeal court decision:
Nov. 10 — Ontario — R. v. Riar
Criminal law: The appellant was convicted of driving a truck containing $3.5 million worth of cocaine from the United States into Canada. The accused and co-accused argued they were blind couriers and didn’t know what was in the truck. On appeal, one dissenting judge found that the trial judge had made a litany of errors in assessing the evidence and inappropriately inferred a lack of credibility. The top court will review whether the appellant had a fair trial.
Read the Ontario appeal court decision:
Drug smugglers land jail time: Brampton Guardian
Trucking drugs through the border: An ongoing problem: Windsor Star
Nov. 12 — Alberta — Krayzel Corp. v. Equitable Trust Co.
Interest rates: The applicants in this case owned a $27-million mortgage that was provided by the Equitable Trust Co. In 2008, when the mortgage matured, the lender and borrower entered into a series of renewal agreements that included clauses that would result in a higher interest rate payment upon default. The borrower was then unable to make a payment on the mortgage. The applicants argue that the clauses seeking a higher interest rate upon default are contrary to s. 8 of the Interest Act. The appeal was dismissed by a majority at the Alberta Court of Appeal.
Read the Alberta appeal court decision:
Nov. 13 — British Columbia — R. v. Hecimovic
Criminal law: Andelina Hecimovic was acquitted of dangerous driving causing death. It was alleged that she attempted to illegally bypass traffic and run a red light in order to get to her boyfriend’s place faster. The trial judge found that Hecimovic had failed to read the signs, leading only to a momentary error, not a criminal act. The majority at the Court of Appeal agreed that the trial judge had applied a subjective test for determining mens rea rather than the required modified objective test. The top court will review the test for determining mens rea.
Read the British Columbia appeal court decision:
Andelina Hecimovic acquittal in deadly crash challenged: Huffington Post
Top court to hear case of B.C woman acquitted in fatal Pitt Meadows crash, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times
Man arrested for stealing poppy boxes near Edmonton, Canadian Press
Crafted largely in secrecy, the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement text was released publicly yesterday.
|The Canadian government ‘did cave on auto, vehicles, and parts,’ says Mark Sills.|
After a cursory read of the hefty documents, Sills points to concessions made by Canada regarding the automotive industry that he says could have a significant impact on the economy, particularly for southern Ontario.
“Like any trade negotiation, there obviously has to be gives, but it looks as though the Canadian government did cave on autos, vehicles, and parts,” he says.
He notes, for example, that the agreement would have Canada phase out the tariff on Japanese vehicles over six years while the U.S. has a 30-year timeline. A major concern, he says, is that in six years, Japanese-assembled vehicles will enter the country duty free, but because of the rules of origin, they’ll be able to incorporate significant amounts of parts from outside the trade bloc.
“There will be a lower level of processing required to turn non-TPP originating parts into TPP originating parts, so that’s a big concern, particularly for Ontario,” says Sills.
Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Canada’s web site calls the agreement the largest and “most ambitious trade initiative in history” that it says will increase Canada’s foothold in the Asia-Pacific region. Despite the criticisms, other lawyers see the deal as being positive for Canada.
“The federal government has set out what I see as laudable and praiseworthy objectives,” says business lawyer and civil litigation specialist Marvin Huberman.
Huberman says that despite some opposition to the deal, he believes it will improve trading relationships, reduce technical barriers to trade, revamp intellectual property laws, and bolster trade and environmental policies with unified enforcement.
“I think all of this is wonderful and much needed,” he says.
While opponents say the deal will radically affect everything from copyright laws to Internet privacy and even grocery bills, Huberman thinks otherwise. “I’m not so sure that is the case. What I think is really happening is that this particular international agreement is challenging how our government is going to handle these issues.”
He also downplays the prospect the agreement infringes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and says the courts would protect people’s rights if it did. “But even if that possibility, or some would argue that probability, will occur, that’s why we have the judicial branch [of the federal government],” he says. “Then we achieve the balance people want.”
Amid transparency concerns around Tarion Warranty Corp., the Ontario government has appointed a former judge as a special adviser to conduct a review of the organization and related legislation.
|‘We think this is an incredibly important step for the province and for Ontario’s purchasers of newly built homes,’ says Karen Somerville.|
“Justice Cunningham has the expertise, experience, and sound judgment that is critical for this review. We look forward to his recommendations, which will help improve protection for owners of new homes in Ontario,” said Orazietti.
The move comes after years of political debate over Tarion’s mandate to collect fees from purchasers and builders of new homes while critics charge it has kept its internal workings largely secret.
Although Tarion issues an audited annual financial statement, the administrator isn’t accountable to the province’s auditor general or ombudsman, nor does it provide salary information for employees earning more than $100,000 for the province’s sunshine list.
The alleged lack of transparency has led to frequent calls for reform. Former NDP MPP Rosario Marchese tabled bills to that effect in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and most recently NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh brought forward a private member’s bill that would bring Tarion under the jurisdiction of the Ontario ombudsman and the auditor general and require public salary disclosures.
Despite having no public mandate to investigate Tarion, former ombudsman André Marin has reported almost 300 complaints about the administrator from 2007-13. Marin told the Toronto Star that he has “long believed that Tarion lacks proper oversight.”
Karen Somerville, president of the advocacy group Canadians for Properly Built Homes, which has been fighting for reform at Tarion for over a decade, says she’s thrilled by the news. “We think this is an incredibly important step for the province and for Ontario’s purchasers of newly built homes. This is long overdue, and so we’re very pleased that this has finally been announced.”
Somerville is hopeful recommendations will transform the governance of Tarion, which she claims has been unduly influenced by builders and developers at the expense of homebuyers seeking recovery from defectively built properties. “It needs to be truly a consumer-oriented organization with much, much less influence from the Ontario Homebuilders Association and from builders and developers,” she says. “That goes to the heart of the governance issues with Tarion.”
In addition, Somerville hopes recommendations will loosen Tarion’s monopoly over home warranties in the province and provide homebuyers whose claims have been denied an opportunity to resubmit them.
“We hope that Ontarians who have been involved and who have been hurt by the current system will reach out and offer to be part of this process, this study that’s underway. We’re really hoping that Ontarians will choose to participate, will share their experiences, and let this review know why these changes are so important. . . . There are many homeowners who are suffering greatly because their claims were denied.”
Tarion, for its part, says its model as an independent administrator has allowed it to operate quickly, efficiently, and effectively and that it’s required to provide numerous disclosures to the province if not to the public directly.
In April, Tarion chairman Chris Spiteri rebutted a piece of commentary in Law Times in which columnist Alan Shanoff argued Ontarians “have little verifiable or relevant information on whether the public is receiving value for its money.”
Spiteri responded that its model as an independent administrator “provides the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services with oversight of Tarion through its accountability agreement. The government contributes to board composition and the nomination process and requires quarterly reports to the ministry, annual reports, audited financial statements, annual business plans, yearly regulatory plans, and annual public meetings.”
That may not be enough for detractors who will no doubt be waiting eagerly for Cunningham’s recommendations.
Two teens killed in Cambridge car crash, Canadian Press
Former B.C Crown Jody Wilson-Raybould will serve as Canada’s first aboriginal justice minister and attorney general in the new Liberal government.
Wilson-Raybould, a former regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations in British Columbia, is from the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples and previously served as a treaty commissioner.
|New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses with his cabinet after a swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa today. The new ministers include lawyer Jody Wilson-Raybould in the justice portfolio. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)|
Toronto defence lawyer Bill Trudell says Wilson-Raybould is “an inspirational choice.”
“This is a real breath of fresh and experienced air in the ministry,” says Trudell. “This is a very distinguished woman.”
By appointing her, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “clearly sending a signal” that aboriginal issues in the justice system are going to be important to the new government, says James Morton, a litigator at Morton Karrass LLP.
“If you recall, the last government cut back on the application of [R. v.] Gladue principles to a degree, and I suspect we’ll see perhaps a greater sensitivity to First Nations issues,” he says.
A former prosecutor in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, Wilson-Raybould also brings to the portfolio a “considerable experience in poverty law and some of the real issues like drug abuse, prostitution, and predatory actions,” says Morton, calling it “a dramatically different life experience, to say the least,” from the one former justice minister Peter MacKay brought to the position.
“It’s certainly a big shift. You’ve got a younger person, a First Nations woman with a lot of experience in the criminal justice system as a prosecutor,” he adds.
Isadore Day, Ontario regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, also lauded Wilson-Raybould’s appointment.
“Minister Wilson-Raybold is a strong choice for justice minister. Her appointment shows that this government cares about proper representation of indigenous perspectives and women,” said Day.
“In First Nations traditional governance models, women are integral to the connection and healing in the community. Mr. Trudeau could not have chosen better.”
Wilson-Raybould has a wealth of knowledge about drugs, mental health, poverty, and the impact those issues have on crime, says Trudell.
“If anybody suggested this is tokenism, there is no tokenism here,” he adds.
Criminal lawyers had chided the previous government for its mandatory minimum sentences and victim surcharge. Morton says his sense is there will be greater discretion for the courts and sensitivity to poverty issues under the new government.
“I think there are so many people in this country, in this profession who today would like to call up the minister of justice and say, ‘Boy, would I ever like to help to work to make the system better,’” says Trudell, noting he’s confident Wilson-Raybould will work collaboratively with all participants in the justice system.
Having met Wilson-Raybould, Morton describes her as “gregarious and engaging.”
“I think the bar will find her to be really quite refreshing,” he adds.
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