The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Doug Beazley

Environmental law

Canada’s proposed new Impact assessment: Putting science first?

By Doug Beazley November 15, 2018 15 November 2018

Canada’s proposed new Impact assessment: Putting science first?

 

Compromise is the lifeblood of working democracies. That doesn’t mean everyone has to like it. Bill C-69 — the Trudeau government’s attempt to reform Canada’s system of environmental reviews for major resource projects — is before the Senate, and making no one particularly happy.

C-69 (it’s actually a package of bills) would take the job of ordering project impact assessments away from the National Energy Board and hand it to a new body, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC). The IAAC is designed to not only conduct environmental assessments of large projects (such as interprovincial pipelines), but to broaden the scope of the assessments to cover the projects’ health, social and economic impacts, their effects on Indigenous peoples and on the federal government’s climate change commitments. The goal, according to the government, is to streamline project assessments through a “one project, one assessment” approach.

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Access to information

Access bill problematic for privilege and judicial independence

By Doug Beazley October 24, 2018 24 October 2018

Access bill problematic for privilege and judicial independence

Few government bills make it to the finish line dragging as much heavy baggage as C-58. The first attempt to update Canada’s government information access and privacy laws in more than three decades is before a Senate committee this week for public submissions.

It’s safe to say its critics outnumber its defenders at this point. Most of the opprobrium has focused on claims that the bill throws up roadblocks for ordinary Canadians trying to access government information, or that it limits the types of information they can see. Former federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault called the draft bill a “regression of existing rights.” Her successor, Caroline Maynard, said the bill “fails to deliver” on the federal Liberals’ election commitment to openness and transparency.

The Canadian Bar Association largely agrees — and it has a few quarrels of its own with C-58.

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Administrative law

Rebooting the standard of review: Can it be done?

By Doug Beazley October 9, 2018 9 October 2018

Rebooting the standard of review: Can it be done?

 

In December, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear three concurrent appeals touching on one awkward question: where courts should draw the line on revisiting, and overturning, the decisions of government-appointed panels and individuals tasked by governments with administering the law.

The facts of the appeals are intriguing enough on their own. One deals with a government decision to rescind the citizenship of a Canadian-born son of Russian spies. The other two are going after the CRTC’s decision in 2016 to prohibit the practice of “simultaneous substitution” — buying American TV programming (in this case, the Super Bowl) and swapping American commercials for Canadian ones.

Espionage and football — a weird combination that guarantees intense media interest. But that’s not why lawyers will be watching.

Administrative law — the law that governs the actions of a wide spectrum of government-empowered administrators making binding legal decisions — tends to be both low profile and ubiquitous.

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Trade

Why the U.S. agreed to scrap NAFTA’s Chapter 11

By Doug Beazley October 5, 2018 5 October 2018

Why the U.S. agreed to scrap NAFTA’s Chapter 11

 

Complex, sprawling international trade treaties like the new United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement, or USMCA (or NAFTA 2.0, if you find President Trump’s preferred title a little lumpy), can be difficult to sell to hardcore ideologues. Big treaties have a lot of moving parts; one side gives something up to get something, while the other side does much the same.

So USMCA has a couple of features that aren’t easy to file away as ‘left’ or ‘right’. Take, for example, the fate of NAFTA’s Chapter 11 — the ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ (ISDS) chapter that managed conflicts between nations and foreign investors.

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Environment

Right to be forgotten sets privacy against freedom of expression

By Doug Beazley September 11, 2018 11 September 2018

Right to be forgotten sets privacy against freedom of expression

 

Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, the British engineer credited with inventing the World Wide Web, called it “dangerous.” Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, described it as “deeply immoral.” The New York Times warned darkly that it could “undermine press freedoms and freedom of speech.”

“It” is the 2014 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union upholding a regulatory agency’s decision to order Google to delete any links to an old news article about an auction of some property belonging to a Spanish lawyer.  The court agreed the old story was no longer relevant, introducing to the EU what many have called a new human right — the “right to be forgotten.”

The debate over the propriety of a right to be forgotten — RTBF, for short — has been raging on both sides of the Atlantic ever since. Its proponents say it’s the only way to protect personal privacy in an age when online information is practically permanent and universally accessible. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner got the ball rolling in Canada with a call for submissions on RTBF and online reputation in 2016, and the release of a draft position paper on the subject in early 2018.

 

Photo: Licensed under Creative Commons by www.quotecatalog.com. Some rights reserved

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