Robert Todd|Jun 2, 2011
A blue-ribbon group of commissioners from across the globe is calling for an end to misguided drug laws that have had the ironic affect of boosting narcotics usage while fuelling violent cartels that rake in billions of dollars in illicit profits each year.
“Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after president Nixon launched the U.S. government’s global war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed,” said former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who acted as chairman of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, in a statement today.
“Let’s start by treating drug addiction as a health issue, reducing drug demand through proven educational initiatives and legally regulating rather than criminalizing cannabis,” he added.
The self-regulatory system for lawyers in Canada needs an overhaul, University of Calgary law professor Alice Woolley argues in a paper released today.
There has been some (really not enough) debate in the legal profession in Canada about the future of self regulation. There are critics who call for it to be abandoned entirely and have the courts regulate and discipline lawyers as is done in many U.S. states.
Woolley maintains that independence of the bar is paramount, but does not wholly subscribe to the theory that lawyers must regulate themselves in order to be independent. “Rather, the things that independence should protect — the ability of lawyers to be zealous advocates for clients within the bounds of legality — should be used to assess the adequacies of any regulatory scheme. Does regulation ensure that lawyers fulfill their duty of zealous advocacy? Does regulation ensure that lawyers remain within the bounds of legality? Does regulation ensure access to justice?”
Jean Sorensen|May 31, 2011
Lawyer and newly elected Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, representing the Delta-Richmond East riding, has been appointed parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.
Findlay took 54.2 per cent of the vote in her riding on May 2. She had 14,870 more votes than her closest rival NDP candidate Nic Slater.
She has practised law in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland most of her life, representing clients at every level of court including the Supreme Court of Canada. Findlay has been active in the Canadian Bar Association and is the founding chairwoman of the B.C. Women Lawyers Forum and National Women Lawyers Forum, and a former 1997-98 president of the CBABC. She was also a member of the national task force on court reform.
Andi Balla|May 31, 2011
Ogilvy Renault LLP will officially become part of the Norton Rose Group tomorrow, ending the transition process that started when the firm announced the “combination” last November.
Ogilvy Renault becomes the first major Canadian operation to join a global law firm. Starting tomorrow, the firm will be officially known as Norton Rose OR LLP.
The new firm will kick off its celebrations by opening trading at the Toronto Stock Exchange tomorrow morning. A group of about 20 of its lawyers, including Canadian chairman Norm Steinberg, Norton Rose Group’s chairman Stephen Parish, and Toronto managing partner John West.
The need to retain top talent and the continued economic recovery mean law firms are predicting a generous year for employees, according to a new survey.
The survey by Robert Half Legal shows that 79 per cent of lawyers polled said their firms or corporate legal departments are planning on pay raises and bonuses for their associates. A further 15 per cent don’t expect to boost compensation while seven per cent of respondents didn’t know or didn’t answer.
The poll included responses from more than 150 lawyers at big law firms and corporations in Canada. It comes on a day when new economic data revealed Canada’s gross domestic product grew at a brisk annualized rate of 3.9 per cent during the first quarter of 2011.
Julie Gordon, Reuters|May 27, 2011
A Canadian court has cleared the way for Ottawa to seek penalties of up to $10,000 a day against U.S. Steel for allegedly breaking job-protection promises made when it bought Hamilton, Ont.-based Stelco.
The Federal Court of Appeal struck down U.S. Steel’s efforts to overturn Canadian investment law — the second such court decision to go against the company — after almost two years of procedural and legal challenges by the Pittsburgh-based company.
The Canadian government sued the company in 2009, claiming U.S. Steel’s decision to temporarily shut down two former Stelco plants violated promises it made about maintaining employment levels.
Jeffrey Jones, Reuters|May 27, 2011
Having sex with someone who is unconscious constitutes sexual assault, even when the victim consents during relations to being choked to the point of blacking out, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today.
In a 6-3 decision in R. v. J.A., the top court overturned an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling and reinstated a sexual assault conviction on a man who had sex with his partner during an mutually agreed-upon erotic asphyxiation session.
"The definition of consent for sexual assault requires the complainant to provide active actual consent throughout every phase of sexual activity," said Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing for the majority. "It is not possible for an unconscious person to satisfy this requirement, even if she expresses her consent in advance."
Robert Todd|May 27, 2011
Intellectual property lawyers say the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision yesterday in Masterpiece Inc. v. Alavida Lifestyles Inc. is a victory for those seeking stronger protection of trademark laws.
“The decision affirms that the Canadian trademarks regime is national in scope and upholds the plain language of the Trade-marks Act,” said Daniel Bereskin of Bereskin & Parr LLP, who represented the intervening International Trademark Association at the SCC.
The case holds that a registered trademark is not valid if a confusingly similar trademark had previously been used anywhere in Canada.
Jean Sorensen|May 26, 2011
It’s a case that has attracted marginal attention but one that’s being watched by some First Nations lawyers given the far-reaching implications for land development on reserves.
The Okanagan, B.C., case has unfolded and succeeded before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that has severely criticized Indian and Northern Affairs Canada officials in their dealings with First Nations. The trickle-down effect of the tribunal’s ruling is expected to place more decision-making power into the hands of private individuals known as locatees who have rights to band lands and want to develop them.
Louie, James, Beattie, Joyce v. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was heard before the tribunal last year, but a decision wasn’t issued until early 2011. The tribunal essentially ordered the federal body to “cease its discriminatory practices” in its land management practices related to locatees.
The new online voting system for the Law Society of Upper Canada bencher election virtually eliminated the old problem of late-arriving votes, says Treasurer Laurie Pawlitza.
Lawyers could still use the traditional paper ballot in this year’s election, but had to request a paper package in order to avoid the online vote this year.
Pawlitza told Convocation today that just 403 out of 15,592 votes were cast by paper, or about 2.6 per cent of the total. That’s even less than the number who tried to vote by paper in 2007, but missed the deadline because they misjudged the post. In the last election, 507 paper ballots arrived at the law society after voting had closed, and couldn’t be counted. It’s now impossible to vote late online, although 79 who rely on Canada Post still managed to miss the deadline in 2011.