Friday weekly wrap-up

By Yves Faguy August 17, 201817 August 2018

Friday weekly wrap-up


Here’s a quick look at the major legal stories from the past week.

During the dog days of summer, especially as a government enters the last year of its mandate, pining for a snap election call is practically de rigueur among journalists – a habit that endures in spite of fixed election dates.  That’s understandable, though, because there isn’t anything legally problematic with calling an early election in Ottawa. As James Bowden reminds us, “fixed-date election laws do not mandate a minimum lifespan of a parliament; they only lower a parliament’s maximum lifespan.”  Channeling constitutional historian Alpheus Todd, Bowden also sketches out the four situations where a government should advise early dissolution of Parliament, and concludes that the time is not right for Justin Trudeau.

In the wake of last week’s shooting in Fredericton that killed four people, and perceiving a possible rise in illegal firearm use, Canada’s police chiefs are proposing to study data related to gun violence. Also, a New Brunswick judge has lifted a publication ban on court documents regarding the shooting, revealing details about the attack.

Trinity Western University has announced it is finally dropping its mandatory covenant forbidding students from having sex outside heterosexual marriage. Last June, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the law societies of British Columbia and Ontario in their decision to deny accreditation to the school’s law program.

Raymond Bachand, a former Quebec provincial finance minister and the province’s leading trade negotiator for NAFTA, says he is unconcerned about bilateral talks between the U.S. and Mexico. He told the CBC: "There's two or three other issues which are really bilateral issues with Mexico, like seasonality of fruit and things like that. But all the major subjects left between Canada and the U.S., or Canada, Mexico and the U.S., are [being] held off until the automobile [issue] is resolved."

This appears to be the year that the impact of climate change has become more evident to the world. “I think that in future people will look back on 2018 as the year when climate reality hit,” the climate scientist behind the recent “hothouse Earth” report has said. The corporate world is also taking notice. Norton Rose Fulbright’s Carole Gilbert writes that pressure is coming from all sides – institutional investors, shareholders and securities regulators– for businesses to more fully disclose their climate risks. Even so, she points to recent findings published by the Canadian Securities Administrators that few issuers are providing meaningful climate change-related disclosure, especially outside the oil & gas industry. Until securities regulators impose new disclosure requirements, “investors may have to rely on representations and warranties and indemnities in the transaction agreement.”

Speaking of improper disclosure, Elon Musk clarified last week’s tweet on Tesla going private.  Musk says Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth approached him about taking Tesla private in early 2017.  “A cautious lawyer would have said you shouldn’t have said ‘funding secured’ unless you had a commitment letter,” said Keith Higgins, a Ropes & Gray partner. Tesla has been hit with several lawsuits alleging stock price manipulation. There could be other obstacles, too. Involving the Saudi sovereign fund would likely have to undergo a review by U.S. national security officials.

British expatriates have launched a fresh legal challenge against the EU membership 2016 referendum because the result has been invalidated by the Electoral Commission’s ruling on leave campaign spending. Teresa May’s government has two weeks to respond.

Those are the highlights as we saw it. Until next week!

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