The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

National Blog

Third time’s the charm: Once more on immigration consultants

By Kim Covert September 5 2017 5 September 2017

    The CBA’s Immigration Law Section applauds the emphasis in a recent report on immigration consultants by the Citizenship and Immigration Committee on protecting individuals who want to immigrate to Canada. Still, it feels the Committee’s recommendations “have missed the mark in a number of key areas” by not addressing fundamental issues that have led to the failure of two separate regulatory bodies for consultants.

    The Section endorses a number of the report’s recommendations, those which it says will, among others, improve access to justice, reduce language barriers, increase fines for ghost consultants, and give more financial support to settlement agencies.

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    The law should encourage people to do the right thing

    By Kim Covert August 31 2017 31 August 2017


      Canada Revenue Agency’s Voluntary Disclosures Program is generally considered a win-win – people who’ve made errors on their taxes are given the opportunity to come forward and correct their mistakes, and the CRA collects taxes that otherwise have gone unpaid.

      But proposed changes to the VDP have the potential to disrupt that balance, and could, when it comes to businesses collecting GST and HST, result in harsher penalties than if the errors were caught in a CRA audit.

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      How to align new NAFTA with more modern trade deals

      By Kim Covert August 31 2017 31 August 2017

         

        Time passes, the world moves on, and today’s new kid in town is tomorrow’s been there, done that.

        And so it is with the North American Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect 23 years ago. At the time it was hailed as a state-of-the-art trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Over the last two decades it has accomplished what it was supposed to accomplish: it currently links 459 million people producing more than $19 trillion worth of goods and services; it has increased trade between the member states; it has created more integrated supply chains between the member states.

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        Less isn’t necessarily more when it comes to blood alcohol limit

        By Kim Covert August 29 2017 29 August 2017

          If a blood-alcohol limit of 80 mg is an effective deterrent to drinking and driving, a 50 mg limit should be even better, right?

          That’s essentially the thinking behind a proposal to limit the criminal blood alcohol concentration limit, but less, in this case, isn’t necessarily more.

          That’s because 50 mg indicates the presence of alcohol in the blood but isn’t necessarily an indicator of impairment, says the CBA’s Criminal Justice Section in a letter to Justice Canada. While there is enough evidence of impairment to support a limit of 80 mg, there is “little to no consensus in the scientific community that 50 mg is impairing.”

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          Speaking out for judicial independence in Poland

          By Kim Covert August 28 2017 28 August 2017


            Poland is becoming known as Europe’s problem child, with what one report calls a “worrying policy of polarization” that stems back to the election in 2015 of the Law and Justice party (PiS). Issues came to a boil this summer with a number of planned reforms that would have the effect of erasing judicial independence and give rise to the possibility of political influence on judicial decisions.

            In July, the EU deemed those plans an amplification of a “systemic threat to the rule of law” in the country. It demanded that Poland “address these problems within one month,” failing which it was prepared to trigger Article 7, in which a member country’s EU voting rights are suspended.

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            CBA welcomes first feminist international assistance policy

            By Kim Covert August 25 2017 25 August 2017


              The CBA’s International Initiatives Committee applauds the federal government’s July announcement of a new feminist international assistance policy.

              In a letter to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Committee Chair, commended the government on its focus on inclusive governance, and gender equality.

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              CBSA pilot project not the answer to border backups

              By Kim Covert August 21 2017 21 August 2017


                Once around the flagpole, then home?

                Not so fast.

                Flagpoling is a term used by foreign nationals who exit the country only to immediately re-enter in order to satisfy the requirements of a work visa or to confirm landing. Because of slow processing times and inefficient processes online and at immigration offices in Canada, it is more efficient for many people to go to a point of entry and do the quick turnaround than to deal with an inland immigration centre.

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                Consultation report on political activities received charitably

                By Kim Covert August 17 2017 17 August 2017


                  What does “political” mean in the charitable context?

                  That’s an excellent question. The CBA Charities and Not-for-Profit Law Section posed it in a submission last year to the Canada Revenue Agency during consultations on political activities by charitable and non-profit agencies. And one of the four recommendations in the consultation report, released in March, is that the issue be clarified in legislation.

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                  Lack of adequate funding for Federal Courts ‘untenable’

                  By Kim Covert August 16 2017 16 August 2017


                    The CBA revisited the need for adequate funding for courts in a letter to the Justice Minister in early July which called for a mechanism to ensure ongoing funding for the Federal Court, Court Martial Appeal Court, Tax Court and Federal Court of Appeal.

                    Inadequate funding affects the independence of the judiciary and also becomes an obstacle to access to justice at a time when courts are coming under increasing fire for delays and backlogs.

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                    Working the convention: Regional representation on the SCC, please

                    By Kim Covert July 13 2017 13 July 2017

                      Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s announcement in June that she will be retiring at the end of 2017 means the government will soon start the process to fill her seat on the Supreme Court. Once again, the CBA is asking the government make an appointment based on merit, ensuring that the court reflects the full diversity of Canada’s regions, legal systems and population.

                      McLachlin’s seat on the court is one of the two traditionally held by Western Canada. The jury is out, however, on whether that seat should go to a jurist from British Columbia, which is where the Alberta-born McLachlin was a sitting judge before her appointment to the Supreme Court, or to any of the four provinces west of Ontario.

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                      Omar Khadr civil suit settlement: Canadian experts weigh in

                      By Mariane Gravelle July 10 2017 10 July 2017

                        It’s front page news: last week, the federal government reached a settlement with Omar Khadr in a civil suit (read about it here). Khadr and his team filed the suit against the government alleging a violation of his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by Canadian officials during his incarceration at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

                        As one can expect in such a polarized case, this settlement elicited a wide range of reactions from citizens, journalists and politicians alike.  Many decry the fact that a person they consider to be a former terrorist has now been made a millionaire at taxpayers’ expense. Vancouver radio host Charles Adler, cited by the Globe and Mail, sums up this opinion:

                        “This is not residential schools we’re apologizing for. We’re apologizing to an enemy combatant who betrayed his country and went overseas to build roadside bombs. […] Most [people on the street] think that when you turn your guns on your own country, you stop being a Canadian.”

                        Still, others believe that the settlement is justified.

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                        Federal government settles civil suit launched by Omar Khadr

                        By Mariane Gravelle July 7 2017 7 July 2017

                          In a midday press conference on Friday, the federal government publicly acknowledged that it had reached a settlement in a civil suit launched against it by former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.

                          While details of this settlement remain confidential, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould stated that that it included a written apology that will soon be put on public record.

                          Mr. Goodale explained that neither the civil case nor the ensuing settlement were about Mr. Khadr’s actions in Afghanistan. Rather, this case examined the question of whether the behaviour of Canadian officials towards Mr. Khadr during his imprisonment violated his rights as a Canadian citizen.

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