The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

National Blog

Yes, but no: Well-intended Bill C-51 would not improve justice in sex assault cases

By Kim Covert November 20 2017 20 November 2017


    Changes to the Criminal Code’s sexual assault regime in Bill C-51 threaten to upset the ability of an accused to provide a full defence, suggests the CBA’s Criminal Justice Section.

    The aim of the proposed bill is to remove unconstitutional or obsolete sections from the Criminal Code, a move that the Section supports. When it comes to other parts of the bill, those dealing with sexual assault cases in particular, “the CBA Section believes that much of what is proposed would fall short of improving justice for either complainants or accused,” it writes in a letter to the Chair of the House Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

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    Offering asylum is about more than opening borders

    By Kim Covert November 15 2017 15 November 2017

       

      A good host makes sure that there is enough food and drink and other amenities to make those invited to the party feel welcome and comfortable. Canada is in danger of being a bad host to its most recent arrivals.

      Asylum-seekers have been streaming across the Canada-U.S. border since last winter, thanks to an unwelcoming environment in the U.S. and the prime minister’s announcement in January that they would be welcome in Canada.

      However sincere Canada might be about wanting to accept people fleeing war and persecution in their home countries, the fact is that the departmental infrastructure was already having trouble keeping up with the number of regular immigration applications.

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      Repository for unclaimed pension entitlements a good idea

      By Kim Covert October 31 2017 31 October 2017

         

        If you have a sneaking feeling that you forgot to close out a bank account a long time ago, maybe in a province where you used to live, the Bank of Canada’s unclaimed balances registry can help you either set your mind at rest or set you on your way to reclaiming your cash.

        The Bank of Canada takes over accounts that have been inactive for 10 years. If there’s less than $1,000 in the account, it holds the money for 30 years, and if there’s more than $1,000, it will hold on to it for 100 years.

        The CBA Pension and Benefits Law Section thinks it would be a good idea if the bank did the same thing for unclaimed pension monies.

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        Harmonize pension plan regulations for efficiency, says CBA Pension Section

        By Kim Covert October 30 2017 30 October 2017

           

          The Pension and Benefits Law Section called once again for a harmonized pension regulatory system in its October comment on the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institution’s revised draft derivatives guideline for federally regulated pension plans.

          Derivatives include an assortment of financial or commodity contracts, including forwards, futures, swaps and options. Used prudently, derivatives can be used by pension plan administrators to implement risk management strategies that can reduce risks associated with a range of financial variables like exchange rates, interest rates, market indices and commodity prices.

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          Modernizing air transportation: Tariffs, complaints and the definition of Canadian

          By Kim Covert October 27 2017 27 October 2017

             

            It’s probably never a bad thing when a government decides to modernize its laws and regulations. The Canadian Transportation Agency announced last year its intent to do just that – bring regulations that haven’t changed in 25 years or more in line with the current reality.

            To that end, last December the CTA released its Discussion Paper on Regulatory Modernization for Air Transportation. The Air and Space Law Section has made its comments on Phase II of the paper, focusing on modernizing the Air Transportation Regulations with a view to streamlining existing tariff and application requirements, and enhancing the certainty of legal obligations imposed on carriers.

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            Once more unto the breach regulations

            By Kim Covert October 26 2017 26 October 2017

              The news of a data security breach can send a chill through your bones. Anyone who’s ever shared sensitive information online is vulnerable, and these days that’s more and more of us – think of the three billion people affected by the breach at Yahoo! this summer.

              The federal government is drafting regulations under PIPEDA on how and when to notify people whose information may have been caught up in a breach. They published those draft regulations in the Canada Gazette in September.

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              Billed-basis accounting and access to justice: CBA submission

              By Kim Covert October 25 2017 25 October 2017

                 

                When the Finance Department released draft legislation in September to limit the use of billed-basis accounting, the CBA was happy to see that the government had acted to address one of the Association’s major concerns with the changes.

                When the government announced as part of the 2017 budget that it planned to change billed-basis accounting and the way work in progress is taxed, the CBA said the proposed two-year implementation was far too short, given the amounts of WIP that may be subject to an unanticipated and accelerated tax consequence. The draft legislation will change that implementation period to five years.

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                I am a white settler

                By Caitlin Urquhart October 24 2017 24 October 2017

                   

                  Recently a presenter introducing me stumbled over these words. I still feel awkward saying them. These words can make everyone in the room tense, on edge.

                  I am a white settler. Not my ancestors, not my history, me. I live here on traditional unceded, unsurrendered Beothuk and Mi’kmaq territory. I am a citizen of this colonial government that through current racist and discriminatory practices allows Indigenous peoples to suffer under boil water advisories, abysmal housing conditions, unacceptably high rates of children in care and school drop out. I have allowed this current government to continue to ignore the orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to end the discriminatory chronic underfunding of Indigenous children in care. And I am a part of the justice system that allows Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people to go missing and murdered and actively criminalizes Indigenous peoples making them the most overrepresented group in our prisons.

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                  Privacy at the border: Is a smartphone more like a letter or a briefcase?

                  By Kim Covert October 19 2017 19 October 2017


                    The post-9/11 emphasis on the need for security has exacerbated the difficulty of balancing the individual right of privacy with the state’s right to know, especially at border crossings. And more and more the fulcrum those two balance upon is the personal electronic device, be it a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone.

                    The credit card used to be the thing we wouldn’t leave home without, these days it’s our electronic devices, particularly smartphones. They have become indispensable when travelling, especially now that travel providers have made tickets and boarding passes available electronically.

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                    Something’s gotta give when resources don’t grow with workload

                    By Kim Covert October 18 2017 18 October 2017


                      Canada has opened its doors and its arms and its borders to refugees.

                      Now it needs to open its wallet.

                      British Columbia has gone from receiving 725 refugee claims in 2016 to 110 a month in 2016. In Ontario, if the current rate of refugee claimants continues, there could be nearly 5200 by the end of the year, almost double the number in 2015. Across the country, the Immigration and Refugee Board predicts 40,000 new claims by the end of the year.

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                      Cannabis conundrum: If it’s legal, why treat it like the demon weed?

                      By Kim Covert October 17 2017 17 October 2017

                         

                        The CBA has been a vocal supporter of changing the way the law treats cannabis for nearly 40 years – in our first resolution on the subject, in 1978, the Association urged the government to stop criminalizing simple possession, and also advocated moving marijuana from the Narcotic Control Act to the Food and Drug Act.

                        While it applauds the intent behind Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, the Criminal Justice Section notes that marijuana use would be far from normalized under the proposed law. In comments on a 2016 discussion paper, the Section noted that the government’s approach might be better described as a step toward “decriminalization” but could not be accurately referred to as “legalization” given its heavy reliance on criminal law.

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                        Air travel and a bid to modernize the Competition Act

                        By Kim Covert October 13 2017 13 October 2017


                          A bill that would modernize parts of the Canada Transportation Act and relevant portions of other Acts is making its way through the House of Commons. While Bill C-49, Transportation Modernization Act, deals with planes (including passengers’ rights), trains and maritime transportation, the submission from the CBA Competition Law Section focuses on the parts dealing with airline competition.

                          Specifically, the Section comments on additions to the Canada Transportation Act and Competition Act to provide for a voluntary review and approval process for airline joint venture arrangements that would make Canada’s approach to these arrangements substantially similar to that of the U.S., where the Secretary of Transportation has jurisdiction to exempt airlines from the application of federal antitrust laws.

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