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Case Commentary

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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Doré’s Demise?

In my last post on Double Aspect, I wrote about the religious freedom issues addressed in the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Ktunaxa Nation v British Columbia (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations), 2017 SCC 54, which concerned the constitutionality of a ministerial decision to allow development on land considered sacred by an Aboriginal nation. I want to return to Ktunaxa, ...

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A Wise Decision in Retrospect

The Ontario Court of Appeal handed down two seminal decisions last month. In the companion cases, Cobb v. Long Estate and El-Khodr v. Lackie,  the Court of Appeal (hopefully) settled the doctrine in a number of areas relevant to motor vehicle accident (“MVA”) litigation. Cobb and El-Khodr were appeals arising from the assessment damages, prejudgment interest, and costs in the context ...

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The Courts Have No Jurisdiction to Review “Church Discipline”

Can a matter of church discipline be appealed from a church to a court? The question has made its way up to the Supreme Court of Canada in Wall v Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It may surprise you that it was answered in the affirmative by the chambers judge, Justice Wilson, and by a majority ...

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In Defence of the Notwithstanding Clause and Saskatchewan’s Decision to Use It

Summer is fast approaching and, in keeping with that season’s custom (though not yet a convention), I thought it best to engage Leonid Sirota in constitutional debate. Last year, we went a few rounds on section 7 of the Charter. This year, the hot topic is s.33 of the Charter, otherwise known as the “notwithstanding clause,” which states that Parliament or ...

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The Notwithstanding Clause is no Longer the Nuclear Option

Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – better known as the “notwithstanding clause” – is one of the most controversial parts of the Canadian constitution. Despite being an integral part of the formation of the Charter, commentators such as Andrew Coyne have suggested that the provision is “dead letter” or “taboo”. But on Monday, Saskatchewan Premier ...

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Vriend v Alberta Revisited: A Road to Constitutional or Judicial Supremacy?

The Supreme Court of Canada  has on numerous occasions insisted upon the primacy of the written text of the Constitution.[1] In the Reference Re Secession of Quebec, the Supreme Court explained that the recognition of underlying constitutional principles “could not be taken as an invitation to dispense with the written text of the Constitution”. It noted that “[a] written constitution ...

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Not Just A Pillowfight: How the SCC Has Muddied the Standard of Review

Recently, Justice David Stratas of the Federal Court of Appeal released an extremely helpful summary of almost every aspect of administrative law in Canada. Administrative law students, practitioners, and academics would be well-served to carefully read the document. But Justice Stratas’ piece is far from merely descriptive—in it, he provides a number of recommendations for a return to sound and ...

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