The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

National Blog

Speaking out for judicial independence in Poland

By Kim Covert August 28 2017 28 August 2017


    Poland is becoming known as Europe’s problem child, with what one report calls a “worrying policy of polarization” that stems back to the election in 2015 of the Law and Justice party (PiS). Issues came to a boil this summer with a number of planned reforms that would have the effect of erasing judicial independence and give rise to the possibility of political influence on judicial decisions.

    In July, the EU deemed those plans an amplification of a “systemic threat to the rule of law” in the country. It demanded that Poland “address these problems within one month,” failing which it was prepared to trigger Article 7, in which a member country’s EU voting rights are suspended.

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    CBA welcomes first feminist international assistance policy

    By Kim Covert August 25 2017 25 August 2017


      The CBA’s International Initiatives Committee applauds the federal government’s July announcement of a new feminist international assistance policy.

      In a letter to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Committee Chair, commended the government on its focus on inclusive governance, and gender equality.

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      CBSA pilot project not the answer to border backups

      By Kim Covert August 21 2017 21 August 2017


        Once around the flagpole, then home?

        Not so fast.

        Flagpoling is a term used by foreign nationals who exit the country only to immediately re-enter in order to satisfy the requirements of a work visa or to confirm landing. Because of slow processing times and inefficient processes online and at immigration offices in Canada, it is more efficient for many people to go to a point of entry and do the quick turnaround than to deal with an inland immigration centre.

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        Consultation report on political activities received charitably

        By Kim Covert August 17 2017 17 August 2017


          What does “political” mean in the charitable context?

          That’s an excellent question. The CBA Charities and Not-for-Profit Law Section posed it in a submission last year to the Canada Revenue Agency during consultations on political activities by charitable and non-profit agencies. And one of the four recommendations in the consultation report, released in March, is that the issue be clarified in legislation.

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          Lack of adequate funding for Federal Courts ‘untenable’

          By Kim Covert August 16 2017 16 August 2017


            The CBA revisited the need for adequate funding for courts in a letter to the Justice Minister in early July which called for a mechanism to ensure ongoing funding for the Federal Court, Court Martial Appeal Court, Tax Court and Federal Court of Appeal.

            Inadequate funding affects the independence of the judiciary and also becomes an obstacle to access to justice at a time when courts are coming under increasing fire for delays and backlogs.

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            Working the convention: Regional representation on the SCC, please

            By Kim Covert July 13 2017 13 July 2017

              Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s announcement in June that she will be retiring at the end of 2017 means the government will soon start the process to fill her seat on the Supreme Court. Once again, the CBA is asking the government make an appointment based on merit, ensuring that the court reflects the full diversity of Canada’s regions, legal systems and population.

              McLachlin’s seat on the court is one of the two traditionally held by Western Canada. The jury is out, however, on whether that seat should go to a jurist from British Columbia, which is where the Alberta-born McLachlin was a sitting judge before her appointment to the Supreme Court, or to any of the four provinces west of Ontario.

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              Omar Khadr civil suit settlement: Canadian experts weigh in

              By Mariane Gravelle July 10 2017 10 July 2017

                It’s front page news: last week, the federal government reached a settlement with Omar Khadr in a civil suit (read about it here). Khadr and his team filed the suit against the government alleging a violation of his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by Canadian officials during his incarceration at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

                As one can expect in such a polarized case, this settlement elicited a wide range of reactions from citizens, journalists and politicians alike.  Many decry the fact that a person they consider to be a former terrorist has now been made a millionaire at taxpayers’ expense. Vancouver radio host Charles Adler, cited by the Globe and Mail, sums up this opinion:

                “This is not residential schools we’re apologizing for. We’re apologizing to an enemy combatant who betrayed his country and went overseas to build roadside bombs. […] Most [people on the street] think that when you turn your guns on your own country, you stop being a Canadian.”

                Still, others believe that the settlement is justified.

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                Federal government settles civil suit launched by Omar Khadr

                By Mariane Gravelle July 7 2017 7 July 2017

                  In a midday press conference on Friday, the federal government publicly acknowledged that it had reached a settlement in a civil suit launched against it by former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.

                  While details of this settlement remain confidential, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould stated that that it included a written apology that will soon be put on public record.

                  Mr. Goodale explained that neither the civil case nor the ensuing settlement were about Mr. Khadr’s actions in Afghanistan. Rather, this case examined the question of whether the behaviour of Canadian officials towards Mr. Khadr during his imprisonment violated his rights as a Canadian citizen.

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                  Immigration Detention Framework: Let the children go

                  By Kim Covert June 30 2017 30 June 2017

                     

                    The CBA response to consultations on the Canadian Border Services Agency’s new National Immigration Detention Framework touches on four concerns – particularly the question of detaining children.

                    Whatever the status of the child, whether he or she is an unaccompanied minor, or a Canadian citizen with parents being held in detention, the overriding rule of thumb should always be to keep the best interests of the child in the forefront. And it is never in the best interests of a child to be detained, say the CBA National Immigration Section and the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Forum in their submission.

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                    Trans inmates: It’s all about respect

                    By Kim Covert June 29 2017 29 June 2017

                       

                      Historically, trans inmates are penalized not only for their criminal behaviour but, because Canadian jails and prisons – and the policies that govern them – weren’t designed to accommodate non-binary prisoners, they’re also punished for asserting a gender other than that assigned at birth.

                      Correctional Service Canada is reviewing its policies relating to gender identity and expression and the CBA’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Forum, along with the CBA Criminal Justice Section, made a submission in June to respond to CSC’s proposed policy amendments.

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                      Building a foundation for data-collection under MAID

                      By Kim Covert June 27 2017 27 June 2017


                        Too onerous, too cumbersome, and possibly not quite respectful enough of privacy, are some of the responses from the CBA’s End of Life Working Group to a Health Canada consultation on a monitoring regime for those seeking a doctor’s assistance to end their lives.

                        The Medical Assistance in Dying Act passed in June 2016 acknowledges the importance of a comprehensive monitoring system to collect and analyze data about the demand for medical assistance in dying, and to monitor trends.

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                        Mercosur trade talks: An opportunity for Canada to review its model free-trade agreement

                        By Kim Covert June 26 2017 26 June 2017


                          A cigar may sometimes be just a cigar, as they say, but a trade deal is rarely a simple matter of exchanges of goods or services for money.

                          Several CBA groups have weighed in on the positions the federal government should take if it decides to formally reopen trade talks with the MERCOSUR bloc, including International Law, Immigration Law, Competition Law, the CCCA and the Anti-Corruption Team. Mercosur, also known as the Southern Cone Common Market, is a customs union established by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

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