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Case Commentary

The Administrative Law “Trilogy”: The Stare Decisis Trap

This week, the Supreme Court of Canada finally heard the consolidated appeals in Bell/NFL and Vavilov. ARL, expertly represented by Adam Goldenberg, put forward our submissions on the matter, which focus on a return to the basis of the law of judicial review: its statutory character. During the hearings, one particular line of questioning posed a problem for this  argument, ...

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Supreme Court Rejects a Legislative Duty to Consult in ARL’s First Intervention

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has ruled that there is no duty to consult Indigenous groups at any stage of the law-making process.  This is an important ruling as the recognition of a justiciable duty to consult in the legislative process would have had very significant implications for the ability of federal, provincial, and territorial governments to pass laws ...

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Statutory Interpretation from the Stratasphere

Statutory interpretation presents problems of judicial subjectivity.[1] Though it is well-established that courts and advocates must look to the “text, context, and purpose” of a particular statutory provision to determine its meaning, little work has focused on what courts should do when purposes are stated at different levels of abstraction, or where the statute has multiple purposes which are seemingly ...

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Applying the law (or not) to “a child born of a three-way”

In a decision delivered in April 2018, a Newfoundland court recognized three legal parents (two fathers and one mother), based on the throuple’s sexual relationship  The case starts with a Newfoundland throuple—two men and a woman in a sexual relationship—who had a child in 2017.[1] The identity of the mother is clear, both biologically and in law. However, the men could ...

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Is Deference Possible Here? The Groia Decision and Disguised Correctness

In Groia v Law Society of Upper Canada, 2018 SCC 27, decided last week, the Supreme Court of Canada once again fractured over the approach to take to the judicial review of an administrative decision ― and, once again, the majority chose correctness review disguised as reasonableness as its methodology. The substantive issue in Groia was whether the Law Society was entitled to ...

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The Wall of Separation

The Supreme Court of Canada released its judgement in the Wall appeal last week. It’s a victory for clarity in what had become quite a confused case.  The Court, overturning both courts below, ruled that judges do not have authority to review the decision of an unincorporated religious body to expel one of its members. Confusion at the lower courts Randy Wall, the ...

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Comeau is a Casualty of Confused Doctrine

The Supreme Court delivered a bizarre decision last week in R.v. Comeau. By way of background, Comeau concerned the interpretation of s.121 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which states: “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.” The issue for the Court was ...

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Canon to the Right of Them, Canon to the Left of Them, Canon in Front of Them

The Ontario Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Schnarr v. Blue Mountain is significant for two reasons. First, it provides much needed clarification to the law of occupiers’ liability, and to waivers of liability in particular. Second,  it includes a detailed discussion of some of the principles of statutory interpretation. In this brief article, I discuss the Court of Appeal’s ...

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RIP Reasonableness

 The Supreme Court recently issued its decision in Quebec (Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail) v Caron, 2018 SCC 3, which may, or may not, be another sign that the Court’s love affair with deference to administrative decision-makers is coming to an end ― in practice if not yet in theory. I ...

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ONCA questions Doré-Loyola framework on eve of TWU’s SCC hearing

Is it “antithetical” to the “Charter value” of “inclusivity” to allow a child to be excused from a public school classroom while sexual orientation or gender is being discussed? In this article I review a case that raises this very question. Many lawyers today are concerned that “Charter values” are being used as a sword for state-enforced moral conformity, when ...

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