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Case Commentary

R. v. Jordan is Judicial Legislation

On July 8, 2016, in R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned its decision in R. v. Morin, [1992] 1 SCR 771. The Court is supposed to be the gatekeeper of the Constitution. However, in R. v. Jordan, it ignored the separation of powers and legislated “ceilings” in establishing whether an accused’s s. 11(b) “right ...

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Seven’s Wonders and Sixty Colours: More on the Interpretation of Section 7

In my last article, “Reaffirming the Case for Constraint“, I replied to Leonid Sirota’s article “How to do Constitutional Adjudication,” which was itself a response to my paper, “The Case for a Constrained Approach to Section 7.” Mr. Sirota also wrote a piece entitled “Seven’s Sins” in response to my original paper. I had intended to reply to “Seven’s Sins” ...

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The Comeau Decision is a Welcome Example of Serious Doctrinal Analysis

Constitutional law and alcohol are forever linked. Many famous distribution of powers cases giving rise to new federalism doctrine were about alcohol. It should not be a surprise that we can now add another case to the list. R. v. Comeau, coming out of the New Brunswick Provincial Court, is a novel judicial meditation on Canadian federalism, specifically regarding the ...

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Carter Should not be the “Last Word” on Assisted Dying

The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled in May in Canada (AG) v. E.F. that a woman suffering from “severe conversion disorder” — a non-terminal, psychiatric condition that causes physical symptoms — was eligible to receive “aid in dying” under the “criteria” stated in the Supreme Court of Canada’s February 2015 decision on physician-assisted dying, known as Carter I. The Attorney ...

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Court Slashes Lawyer’s Contingency Fee in Favour of Minor Plaintiff

In Batalla v. St. Michael’s Hospital,  the plaintiffs alleged that the physician and nurses who delivered the minor plaintiff did so negligently and caused the minor plaintiff to suffer severe brain damage. He was born with very limited cognitive functioning, impaired motor skills and visual impairments. The parties settled the matter following a mediation in April 2014 for the all-inclusive sum of $6,625,000. Pursuant to Rule 7 ...

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Ghomeshi Verdict Vindicates the Rule of Law

This morning, Justice William Horkins of the Ontario Court of Justice acquitted Jian Ghomeshi of four charges of sexual assault and a fifth charge of choking. Social media immediately erupted in a firestorm of #believethevictims and #believeallsurvivors. Many insults were also directed toward the judge, who, by all accounts, behaved impeccably during the trial. Indeed, he made an evidentiary ruling near the ...

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Substantially Incontestable: Discriminatory Wills and the Future of the Public Policy Exception

Should racist wills be void on public policy grounds? This issue has arisen in a number of cases over the last couple of years, most recently in Spence v. BMO Trust Company  [“Spence“]. In that case, the deceased disinherited his daughter and the daughter alleged that her disinheritance was motivated by racial animus. The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the ...

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Galati v. Harper: The Rule of Law is not an “Empty Vessel”

The Federal Court of Appeal’s February 8, 2016 decision in Galati v. Harper is notable for several reasons. First, it notes that fundamental legal rules surrounding costs are not jettisoned in the constitutional context. Second, it recognizes that the constitutional guarantee of the “rule of law”, though seemingly broad in the abstract, has a defined meaning and cannot be used ...

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Justice Miller’s First Major Decision May Surprise His Critics

In December, I questioned the common thought that lawyers, scholars and judges who promote judicial restraint and the rule of law should be called “conservative”. I cited Justice Grant Huscroft of the Ontario Court of Appeal simply applying accepted common law principles to lead to what appeared to be a “progressive” result in the employment law case of Michela v. ...

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Misreading Carter v. Canada

In its report released in December, the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group On Physician-Assisted Dying recommends that assisted suicide and euthanasia be publicly funded and available for the non-terminally ill, the mentally ill, and for minors. Their Report says that its recommendations “were developed in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Carter.” The Report claims, inaccurately, that the Court “did ...

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