Legal Feeds Blog
A week after stepping down as head of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Marcel Aubut resigned from Quebec regional law firm BCF on Friday and apologized for his behaviour amid allegations he sexually harassed several women.
|Marcel Aubut speaks to journalists in Ottawa in this file photo from January 2014. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)|
“The crisis brought on by my behaviour also plunged into turmoil my family, my friends, my associates, my employees, and everyone who has been hurt by this behaviour.”
Aubut said he was also going to be seeking counseling.
Following Aubut’s resignation, BCF’s chairman of the board of directors André Morrissette said in a statement:
“Mr. Aubut and his family are going through an extremely difficult time. This morning, Mr. Aubut acknowledged his mistakes and assumed responsibility for his actions. We welcome his acknowledgment, which was without question very difficult for him to make under these circumstances. We have expressed our support for Mr. Aubut’s decision to undertake steps to make lasting changes in his behaviour toward others. He will start this new and important chapter in his life surrounded by his loved ones and we wish him well.”
The allegations regarding Aubut’s conduct toward women during his time at the Canadian Olympic Committee go back to 2011.
The committee said it had had retained Francois Rolland, a former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court, to head up an independent investigation. However, the COC ended that initial investigation “in light of his resignation and based on the wishes of the complainant.”
An independent investigation, however, will continue. “The independent third party process investigating any other complaints will continue uninterrupted. We hope that anyone who has concerns will contact us," the COC said in a statement.
None of the allegations against Aubut have been proven in court and there is no criminal investigation into his actions, Tricia Smith, the interim president of the COC, said recently. Smith is a Vancouver-based lawyer who captured a silver medal in rowing at the 1984 Los Angeles Los Angeles Olympics.
Aubut, a prominent Quebec lawyer, led a group of 30 lawyers from the dissolved Heenan Blaikie LLP to Montreal-based BCF last February — at the same time he was in Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympic Games serving as president of the COC. In addition to being a partner at BCF, Aubut was vice chairman of BCF’s board.
Aubut, who is an Officer of the Order of Canada, founded the firm Aubut Chabot that merged with Heenan in 1998.
He is also the former president of the Quebec Nordiques hockey team.
An allegation has surfaced from a lawyer living outside Canada who says she was inappropriately touched by Aubut when she was a teenager working as a hostess at Nordiques games.
BCF, a firm of more than 200 lawyers and other professionals, focuses on business law in Quebec.
86-year-old woman dies after crash near Stratford, Canadian Press
When the $24.5-million Welcome House in Vancovuer is completed in March 2016, it will form a new housing concept in providing shelter and support systems, including legal advice, for refugees and immigrants.
|Vancouver’s Welcome House will provide opportunity for immigrants to get legal advice. (Image: Henrique Partners Architects)|
There is a similar facility in Lisbon, Portugal, but it does not provide short- and long-term housing for refugees. The Vancouver ISS facility has 16 housing units which can accommodate up to 138 beds.
The 58,000-square-foot Welcome House, designed by Vancouver’s Henrique Partners Architects, is being billed as a one-stop shop for all refugee and immigrant needs. It consist of six floors with the first two providing services such as a pro bono legal clinic, Van City banking services, primary medical care, multilingual trauma support and treatment, multilingual settlement support staff for finding permanent accommodation, employment services, and volunteer services in the community, food bank and second-hand clothing outlets.
The building will also house educational services with seven classrooms for ESL, a computer lab plus child-care facilities. It will also have meeting rooms for seminars.
Friesen says it will provide office space that pro bono lawyers can use to work with new immigrants and refugees. He has already been in touch with several immigration lawyers in Vancouver as well as the University of B.C.’s law faculty.
Over the years, the ability to mesh lawyers with clients has been “piecemeal” but the new facility, with bookings through the ISS’s office, will be more comprehensive, he says. As well, the educational classrooms and meeting rooms provide opportunities to conduct seminars or legal information sessions.
“With the new building and the new initiatives we are pulling together it will allow for a greater continuum of legal services for refugees,” he says, adding the society is open to hearing from lawyers in the community who want to work with refugees.
This week, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear three appeals. In one, an animal trainer who attempted to rig a horse race with performance-enhancing drugs has argued that it is not a “game” within the meaning of the Criminal Code. The SCC will also decide whether transcripts from meetings held in camera during unionized labour disputes can be ordered into testimony at arbitration hearings.
Oct. 13 – Ontario – Riesberry v. R.
(Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)
Criminal law: Derek Riesberry, a race horse trainer, was charged with multiple counts of cheating and defrauding the public after a video caught him injecting a performance-enhancing drug into a horse. A syringe with the drug was also found in his truck. At trial, the judge acquitted him, ruling that horse racing is not a “game” within the meaning of the Criminal Code, and that the Crown had failed to prove that anyone relied on his injecting or not injecting the horse with the drug. The appeal court overturned the ruling and entered convictions on fraud. The SCC will review the meaning of “game” under the Criminal Code.
Read the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision
Related news stories:
Local horse-doping case headed to Supreme Court of Canada, Windsor Star
Labour relations: The commission scolaire in Laval sought to terminate a teacher represented by the syndicat (union). The board’s executive committee held certain meetings with the union and teacher in camera before publicly issuing its decision to dismiss the teacher. The decision was contested through arbitration, where the arbitrator authorized the testimony of the meetings and deliberations held in camera. The SCC will review whether such secret meetings are subject to this kind of arbitration order.
Read the Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision (in French)
Oct. 16 – Alberta – M.J.B. v. R.
Criminal law: The appellant was convicted of sexually assaulting his 14-year-old half-sister. His version and her version of the events differed significantly. On appeal, one judge, in a dissent, would have entered an acquittal, finding the complainant’s evidence unreliable. The SCC will review whether the trial judge erred in applying the relevant legal test. A publication ban is in place.
Read the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision
A group of New Brunswick lawyers have launched legal action to prevent at least two court closures in the province.
St. Andrews lawyer David Bartlett filed a motion Oct. 7 on behalf of the Charlotte County Barristers’ Society, seeking that a budget decision to close certain courthouses announced in March be quashed or suspended. Bartlett says he will be filing another motion seeking a temporary injunction in the next two weeks to stop the closures, pending the hearing of his Oct. 7 motion.
Courts in Sussex and Grand Falls were put on the chopping block and have already ceased operations, Bartlett explained, while the two he is trying to save in Grand Manan and St. Stephen’s are winding down with no caseload scheduled after Oct. 23.
“It’s baffling,” Bartlett says.
The court in St. Stephen’s “is a full-blown court” and central for the very rural county. It contains offices for the judges, youth court services, a law library, probation and victim services and the department of mental health. Bartlett said those services won’t be as accessible if court services are consolidated at a new courthouse in St. John, a one-and-a-half to four-hour drive for most of its population. Added to the travel issue is that the county covers three islands, including Grand Manan, that can only be accessed by additional lengthy ocean ferry rides.
“Charlotte County is a very rural area, it’s also a poor area and a lot of people simply don’t have cars. It’s an hour-and-a half to four hours minimum for over half our population in St. Stephen’s to drive to the new court house in St. John and on top of all of this there is no public transit,” Bartlett says. “The RCMP here will be the highest paid taxi drivers in the world.”
Bartlett explained in 2007 the provincial government of the day closed some smaller satellite courts and was looking to establish if more courts could be closed. He says a task force was formed at the time and two Law Society representatives were chosen as members, “but that task force never met.”
Bartlett said the society was ensured by the provincial powers that before any court closure there would be advance consultation, and if a court was deemed fit for closure, there was to be a year delay before implementation.
He said this past March when the Ministry of Finance announced the closures it came as a surprise.
“There was no advance notice whatsoever,” he says, adding part of his process now is finding out exactly who made the decision to close the courts and on what grounds. He says there is a request for disclosure seeking that information.
“We don’t know where that decision [to close the courts] was made and that’s part of our application, seeking disclosure. It’s like trying to scale a glass wall with no finger holds.”
Family wins back rights to Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, The Telegraph
Has the turnaround finally begun for energy M&A this year?
Deal lawyers in the oil and gas sector have bemoaned the dearth of activity this year, as the late 2014 oil crash led to a prolonged episode of doldrums.
From January to August 2014, energy lawyers in this country feasted on 70 significant energy deals worth a combined $30.1 billion (see graphic). This year, by comparison, we’ve seen a measly 30 deals valued at $19 billion. Slim pickings by all accounts.
News this week, however, may have given mergers and acquisitions advisers a glimmer of hope. On Monday, as OPEC hinted at softer competition with oil sands producers, U.S. Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen declined to raise interest rates, putting the greenback under pressure and giving oil prices a lift.
Monday saw a 5-per-cent jump in petroleum prices — which are up 20 per cent from their August lows — and those gains seem to be solid.
To put a capper on it, again on Monday, Suncor Energy — frustrated by rebuffed overtures — broke the Canadian deal slump with its $4.3-billion hostile takeover for Canadian Oil Sands.
Shares of COS spiked 50 per cent on news of the bid. COS, attempting to extract a higher price or find a white night, responded yesterday by announcing a 120-day shareholder rights plan (aka, a poison pill).
So, do all these factors amount to a sign of life in the energy M&A market? Craig Hoskins, a Calgary deals lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, says there’s reason to be “cautiously optimistic,” as the saying goes.
“My first reaction was, ‘Yeah, that’s great, you know. We’ll have a nice big data point, and it’ll be really helpful to maybe jog some other deals out of the tree,” he says. “But I wouldn’t be overestimating how significant it might be at the end of the day.”
After all, says Hoskins, the Suncor bid for COS may be an exception, given that the companies are already partners in the Syncrude oil sands project.
And even if oil prices are rising, they aren’t the only factor inhibiting M&A in the energy sector, says Hoskins. There’s also the election of the NDP government in Alberta, and its looming royalty review process; and then there’s the issue of getting the crude to points of sale, as provinces and First Nations line up against pipeline proposals.
Hoskins, however, does allow that softening competition from Saudi Arabia and OPEC nations could at least put a floor on the price of oil, which would provide greater deal certainty for transactional partners.
While investors in the oil and gas sector are desperate for a rebound, M&A lawyers would like to see some of that desperation preserved.
“If prices are rising, then the sellers are not as compelled,” he says. “There can be a stabilization, but if these financially distressed companies don’t see a solution in the short to medium term because prices aren’t going up, they’re going to be forced to take the reckoning and do the deal.”
Gaffes: When a candidate accidentally tells the truth, The Globe and Mail
A group of articling students at DLA Piper Canada’s Toronto office are the latest in the legal profession to embark on a mission to sponsor a Syrian refugee family in their quest to come to here.
|DLA Piper Canada LLP articling students Hayley Gaucher, Simon Hurdon, Kristine Gorman, Christopher Kreutzner, and Nick Sharratt are raising money for a Syrian refugee family.|
A day after launching the campaign, the students have raised more than $2,700 towards their $15,000 goal. Hurdon says that’s the bare minimum they’re hoping to raise for the mother and child, who have family in Canada to assist them as well.
“We wanted to use our articling term in this Bay Street office, where people kind of have a lot — to do something meaningful that would be a bit more tangible than the usual fundraisers that you see,” Hurdon says.
“We thought this would be quite meaningful and tangible but also topical with everything in the news right now that is incredibly heartbreaking,” he adds.
Although the students hope to get donations from within the firm, the fundraising is not done through DLP Piper and the group will seek contributions from their private circles as well.
Hurdon says the response within the firm “has been tremendous” so far. “I think the response we get from here will be great; we’ve already received very kind donations from several lawyers yesterday, but obviously we’re hoping for much more.”
Anba Abraam's Coptic Charity, a Mississauga-based organization, will hold the funds in trust for the family, who is now taking refuge in Lebanon, and dispense it to them upon their arrival in Canada, Hurdon explains. The charity would be the official sponsor on immigration papers, but the students would be the donors.
Meanwhile, the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, has, together with the Canadian Bar Association and other groups, launched a refugee sponsorship support program. Lawyers, law students, and sponsorship experts will be giving pro bono consultations to Canadians seeking to sponsor Syrian refugees.
About 450 lawyers across Canada, nearly 100 of them CBA members, are participating in the program, says Stéphane Duval, chair of the CBA’s immigration law section.
“We did the same when there was the Philippines storm and we did the same also when there was the earthquake in Haiti,” Duval says. But while volunteers for the Philippines and Haiti initiative were between 10 and 25 in number, Duval says an unprecedented number of lawyers have made themselves available this time.
Those seeking sponsorship help from within or outside of Canada will be told about their options, if options are available to them, Duval says, adding lawyers will also help out in filling out forms and submitting applications.
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