The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Justin Ling

Budget

Budget 2018: What's in it for justice

By Justin Ling February 28, 2018 28 February 2018

Budget 2018: What's in it for justice

In the Trudeau government’s 2018 budget, the penultimate for its first mandate, the government has pledged new money for Canada’s court system, access to justice, and fighting sexual assault and harassment in the workforce.

The new funding comes in a budget that has been heavily marketed to address gender inequality and systemic failures in outcomes for Indigenous peoples. Here are some highlights.

Money for the courts: Amid longstanding concerns that Canada’s court system is underfunded to address the volume of cases it currently faces — a concern exacerbated by the 2016 Supreme Court ruling in R. v. Jordan, which set strict timelines on trial delays — this year’s budget does offer some new money to help the courts cope.

The budget allocates $75 million for the courts themselves, as well as additional $77 million to expand family courts, as well as another $13 million for access to justice programs and legal aid for immigrants and refugees, all over the next five years.

The money for the family courts will allow for 39 new judicial positions in a handful of provinces, and six new spots on the Ontario Superior Court and the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

Beyond that details are relatively scant about what, precisely, the government plans to do to address the strain on the courts and access to justice.

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Privacy

How the Privacy Commissioner proposes we enforce a right to be forgotten

By Justin Ling January 30, 2018 30 January 2018

How the Privacy Commissioner proposes we enforce a right to be forgotten

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has offered up some ideas about how Canada could develop its own approach to de-indexing search results about people – a way of enforcing a so-called right to be forgotten online. Commissioner Daniel Therrien says that right may already exist under current law.

In a draft position published last week, Therrien’s office has suggested that Canada could have a pretty effective system to protect the reputation of its citizens online, and all it would need to do would be to more broadly enforce select provisions of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

The conversation over the right to be forgotten gathered steam after a Spanish court ruled in 2014 that European citizens have the right to have negative or inaccurate personal information removed from search results. The ruling practically recognized search engines as quasi-public utilities that fall under the regulatory jurisdiction of national governments.

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Internet law

B.C. appeals court: Virtual presence enough to enforce production order

By Justin Ling January 17, 2018 17 January 2018

B.C. appeals court: Virtual presence enough to enforce production order

 

Since the Supreme Court passed down its decision last June in Equustek, lawyers have been waiting with baited breath to see just how broad an interpretation the new internet regime will receive from the courts. Global tech companies, including Google, hoped to see the Canadian — and even American — tribunals rein in the ability of our courts to order companies to take actions beyond our jurisdictional borders.

A recent B.C. appellate decision suggests that Equustek isn’t going to be relegated to a tiny corner of Canadian law. It is very much the standard.

What happened with Equustek? Ever last year’s Supreme Court ruling in Equustek that Canadian courts have jurisdiction to make orders for foreign-based internet companies that carry on business in Canada, there have been concerns about the practical implications.

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Justice

Ottawa's justice agenda in 2018

By Justin Ling January 2, 2018 2 January 2018

Ottawa's justice agenda in 2018

 

Well into the second half of its mandate, the Trudeau government has a lot of work left to do.

Ottawa’s mandate letter tracker, an attempt by the government to grade its own success on the commitments it made after coming into office, reports that it has followed through on just three justice-related files: Adding gender identity as a protected grounds under the federal Human Rights Act and Criminal Code, coming up with a  legislative response to the Carter v. Canada ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding physician-assisted dying, and ensuring an appointment process for Supreme Court Justices that is “transparent, inclusive and accountable to Canadians.” (Some lawyers would question whether that third point is really a victory for the government.)

As for the rest of the justice file, the government has its work cut out for it when Parliament returns in late January, and will need to put a rush on if it wants to finish up its priorities before the next election.

Here’s a quick rundown of some items to watch for in 2018.

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Press freedom

VICE journalist privilege case heads to Supreme Court

By Justin Ling December 1, 2017 1 December 2017

VICE journalist privilege case heads to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that promises to redefine the parameters of press freedom.

The top court granted leave for appeal in R v. Vice Media on Thursday, which paves the way for what could be the most important ruling for press freedom since R. v. National Post in 2010.

The top court’s decision to wade into the case may spell a willingness to move the goalposts on how police can obtain information from journalists.

What’s the case about?

In 2015, an Ontario court signed off on an RCMP production order, ordering Vice and its reporter Ben Makuch to surrender all his notes and communications with Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a Canadian believed to have travelled to the Islamic State, as well as any communications internally at Vice regarding several interviews with Shidon.

The U.S-based media company, which also has offices in Canada, fought the production order, arguing that, if the courts allow journalists and media organizations to become appendages for police investigations, it could severely weaken freedom of the press in Canada.

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