Legal Feeds Blog
New Brunswick man fights for his right to buy beer in Quebec, Canadian Press
The question of whether to accredit Trinity Western University’s planned law school is back on the agenda with the B.C. Supreme Court considering a judicial review application in the case this week.
|The language around conception in the covenant, says Kendra Milne, is a concern given the implications for reproductive rights and access to abortion care.|
Among the interveners is West Coast LEAF, which says it’s seeking to an advance a less talked-about issue in the case: women’s equality.
The university’s community covenant, says director of law reform Kendra Milne, creates “another access barrier” to women through language requiring students to “treat all persons with respect and dignity, and uphold their God-given worth from conception to death.” The language around conception, she says, is a concern given the implications for reproductive rights and access to abortion care.
The hearings in Vancouver will run for five days before Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson. In its submissions in the case, Trinity Western says “in the context of an evangelical Christian community,” its community covenant is “neither surprising nor offensive.”
“It is part of TWU’s Christian philosophy of education, which integrates academic learning, spiritual formation and moral character development in a manner consistent with TWU’s view of biblical faith.”
It also argues the law society’s decision to deny accreditation was contrary to the Legal Profession Act.
While 74 per cent of B.C. lawyers who participated in the October 2014 referendum voted against accreditation, Trinity Western argues it wasn’t in line with s. 13 of the act that deals with implementing resolutions of special meetings.
Among other things, it provides that a resolution of a special meeting of the LSBC isn’t binding on the benchers unless several conditions are present. One of them, according to the section, is a referendum in which one-third of all members in good standing vote and two-thirds of those participating voted in favour of the resolution. But the law society doesn’t have to conduct such a referendum unless it hasn’t implemented the resolution within 12 months of a general meeting on the issue and it receives a petition signed by at least five per cent of the members asking for a vote.
In this case, 12 months hadn’t passed from the June 2014 resolution directing the benchers to declare Trinity Western not an approved faculty of law, Trinity Western noted in its submissions.
Besides West Coast LEAF, other interveners in the B.C. case include the Canadian Council of Christian Charities; the Christian Legal Fellowship; the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms; and OUTlaws.
In a news release ahead of the hearing, Trinity Western expressed confidence it would prevail in light of a recent Nova Scotia court decision in its favour.
“While the Nova Scotia decision is now under appeal, it has set an important precedent in protection of freedoms for all religious communities in Canada,” it said.
In Ontario, however, the court recently upheld the Law Society of Upper Canada’s decision to deny accreditation, and Milne expresses confidence the result will be similar in her province. There’s a “strong case,” she says, “to have that decision upheld.”
Plan would allow police to obtain Internet data without warrant, Canadian Press
Boy's body discovered in Nova Scotia river, Canadian Press
Assaulted woman seriously injured in Vancouver, Canadian Press
A Hamilton, Ont. lawyer ousted from his position on the federal Cross-Cultural Roundtable on National Security this spring has received a letter from the government thanking him, but not explaining his suspension.
|'I just want them to clear my name so I can have some closure and move on,' says Hussein Hamdani.|
“Your participation over the past ten years has contributed to the success of the Roundtable in establishing a long-term dialogue with communities on emerging developments in national security matters and their impact on Canada’s diverse society.
“We would like to convey our appreciation for your efforts,” it closes.
Hamdani says he received the letter earlier this week, although it is dated July 30. He had served on the roundtable — meant, according to its website, “to engage Canadians and the Government of Canada in a long-term dialogue on matters related to national security” — since 2005. He learned of his suspension from the volunteer group only through media reports this spring, he says.
“The irony of all this is this is the only piece of communication I received at all from the federal government,” he says.
The letter makes no mention of the reasons given for his suspension by Blaney’s office to news media this spring. In late April, a news report by Quebec broadcaster TVA called attention to statements Hamdani had made while a university student, and alleged he had links to “Islamist organizations.” In response to the allegations, a spokesman for Blaney said he was being suspended “pending a review of the facts” around his alleged involvement in “radical ideology.”
Hamdani calls allegations that he is sympathetic to or connected to militant Islam “ridiculous and baseless.” He says he wrote an e-mail to Blaney’s office asking for an explanation, but received nothing in reply.
“The media was saying I was suspended, and so I assumed I was suspended. I wasn’t getting any responses back. They couldn’t be bothered to send me a simple note,” he says.
He says he also stopped receiving communication about upcoming meetings of the roundtable, which normally meets every three months.
“I think the wish was that I had died. There was no communication at all whatsoever,” written or verbal, about his termination until he received the letter, says Hamdani.
He says he thinks the real reason for his suspension was his open criticism of Bill C-51, and his support for the Liberal party; he hosted a fundraiser this spring, he says, that was attended by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
He says he has considered suing the government for defamation, but decided not to after talking to his family about it.
“We just decided it’s just not worth it at this point — it’s going to get dragged in the courts for years,” he says. “I just want them to clear my name so I can have some closure and move on.”
Calls to Blaney’s office were not returned before deadline.
Ex-PMO lawyer continues testimony at Duffy trial today, Canadian Press
The government of Kathleen Wynne is being urged to move quickly to negotiate with First Nations who may be impaired by the semi-privatization of Hydro One — or risk legal action that would stymie the $15-billion deal and lead potentially to years of delay.
|An injunction barring further sales processes, or a judicial review, may be in order if the government won’t negotiate, says Alex Monem.|
On July 3, the province passed an omnibus bill that frees the Crown corporation from numerous regulatory obligations and provides for the sale of 60 per cent of assets over the course of multiple public offerings.
Alex Monem, a partner at Pape Salter Teillet LLP, which represents First Nations affected by the decision, says no legal action has yet been taken, but an injunction barring further sales processes, or perhaps a judicial review, may be in order if the government refuses to negotiate.
“I think there is probably enough here, in law and in facts, that a credible injunction action can be brought, and it will obviously cause delays and problems for the privatization efforts,” he says. “So I think it would be very prudent for them to take a pause and engage in one or a number of processes to attempt to resolve this issue.”
Monem says it’s surprising that First Nations groups were not brought to the negotiating table earlier on, given the social policy considerations laid out in the April report by former Toronto-Dominion CEO Ed Clark, who advised the province on the sale.
“We know that the government was sensitive to certain issues, like the issues of the workers and the unions, and that specific reference was made in Clark’s final report that these issues would have to be resolved prior to any concrete steps being taken, so Ontario clearly had its mind turned to broader policy issues and broader stakeholder issues.”
Monem says First Nations groups are likely worried that policies put in place by Hydro One to engage with local aboriginal groups — whether it comes to crafting joint partnerships or shaping environmental policies — will be scrapped under private corporate ownership.
“In a new Hydro One that has significant private ownership, it’s a real open question about what will happen to the past grievance policies or any policy that has broader social policy objectives.”
“I suspect that aboriginal communities would seek [an ownership stake and representation] along with other things to give them confidence that, in the privatized Hydro One world, past issues and future developments would be dealt with in a way that are sensitive, respectful and accommodating of their rights and interests.”
The issue is scheduled to be raised again in an economic development meeting between government officials and the Union of Ontario Indians in Thunder Bay later this month.
Monem, however, suggests while it may be politically expedient to attempt to consult through a collective aboriginal body, such as the union or the Chiefs of Ontario, such collective consultation will do little to resolve concerns for particular First Nations communities.
“That may not address all the issues,” he says. “There will be a number of communities, both Métis and First Nations, that believe they have specific issues that will not be fully addressed through a collective consultation process. So even in circumstances where Ontario takes the most direct path forward now, they might find that it will not satisfy all legitimate interests and they may not have backed themselves out of the problem that they have today.”
The Ontario Divisional Court has refused to allow the appeal of a disbarred Toronto lawyer who was found to have “churned” a family law file.
Lawyer Roderick Byrnes, who had previous professional misconduct convictions, should have warned his client about the “mounting costs” he was incurring while pursuing matters like divvying up household chattels and his preference to not have his spouse smoke in front of their children, Justice Janet Wilson ruled for the Divisional Court panel.
Byrnes received virtually all of his client’s share of proceeds from the sale of a matrimonial home to pay his account. Later, an assessment officer put the value of Byrnes’ work at zero and ordered him to return the funds to his client in addition to the cost of the assessment proceedings. With costs against him set at $48,586, Byrnes owed a total of $77,400 to his client. But the lawyer soon claimed bankruptcy and the client received nothing.
“The core criticism of Mr. Byrnes’ conduct is spending excessive amounts of time on matters that the client had no ability to pay for without adequate advice, information and direction from Mr. Byrnes,” Wilson wrote.
Even if his client wanted him to keep working on issues like the separation of household items — an issue that took 30 hours of work — Byrnes ought to have warned him about taking this “unwise course,” the court said.
There is no evidence that there were any discussions warning the client as to the mounting costs and that, notwithstanding the client’s desire to pursue the issue of division of chattels and the question of smoking in front of the children, that he risked losing his sole asset if he chose to pursue this unwise course.”
The term “churning,” — to deliberately charge fees that are not justified — is also used in the context of stockbrokers who trade clients’ shares not for sound investment reasons but solely to generate commission, explains Gavin MacKenzie, a lawyer at DLA Piper LLP.
The court’s references to the lawyer’s failure to warn his client are related to the finding of churning, says MacKenzie.
“A lawyer can’t charge a client of modest means large fees for spending time on issues such as these without warning the client how much it costs to do so, especially where, as here, the result is that the client’s share of the proceeds of sale of the matrimonial home, on which he is depending, are consumed by legal fees,” he adds.
Byrnes was ordered to pay $7,500 in costs for the appeal. His lawyer George Florea did not immediately respond to a request for comments.
Feds in court to force First Nations to open books to public, Canadian Press
Police investigate downtown Toronto shooting death, Canadian Press
Lu Chan Khuong, the suspended bâtonnière at the Barreau du Quebec, has come out swinging against new reports over the weekend relating to an incident last year in which she is alleged to have shoplifted two pairs of high-priced jeans.
|Suspended Quebec bâtonnière Lu Chan Khuong has come out swinging against new reports over an alleged shoplifting incident.|
The incident occurred on April 17, 2014, in a Simons clothing outlet in a Laval, Que., shopping mall. As Khuong left the store, security guards confronted her and asked her to step into their office. Khuong was found with two pairs of jeans worth approximately $455.
In the leaked declaration, which was published by La Presse, Khuong explains that she had been distracted by a phone call that occurred while she was cashing out. Moreover, Khuong argues she personally knows the owner of the retailer, Peter Simons, and would never have shoplifted from one of his outlets.
[Translated:] “If I had intended to steal something,” she writes, “I wouldn’t have robbed the business of one of my friends. This is all a result of a momentary distraction. I know Peter Simons. . . . I have dinner with him and he has dinner with us.”
Nearly a year after the incident, and soon after Khuong’s election on May 22 as bâtonnière, media reports began to surface about the incident. Khuong attempted to explain her decision to accept a non-judicial outcome in an interview with La Presse in which she is quoted as saying that she didn’t want to attract media attention or “waste time in the courts.”
The growing scandal, followed by Khuong’s off-the-cuff remarks, led the Barreau’s board of directors, in early July, to call a special meeting in which Khuong was suspended from her position.
Some observers have cited political motivations for the decision, given statements Khuong has made about wasteful spending at the Barreau. Khuong’s lawyer issued a formal notice immediately after the decision, demanding it be rescinded. The board has defended its position, arguing the position of bâtonnière must be beyond reproach.
Responding to the most recent spate of reports, Khuong has demanded Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée call a public inquiry to investigate the leak of confidential documents from her office. On Sunday, she also threatened legal action against La Presse, accusing it of violating her privacy and defaming her.
Khuong’s lawyer, Jean-François Bertrand, issued a public letter to the newspaper on Sunday demanding it issue a retraction and apologize for reports that, he says, are based on illegally obtained information and suggest criminal intent for what Khuong insists was an accident.
[Translated:] “This ‘authenticated statement’ — obtained and disseminated illegally — establishes without a doubt that the incident was a simple mistake and that there was never any intention to commit a theft. . . . There is no way that any serious and well-intentioned journalist could fail to see this.”
Neither Khuong nor her lawyer could be reached by Legal Feeds for comment.
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