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The Canadian Bar Association

Justin Ling

Press freedom

VICE journalist privilege case heads to Supreme Court

By Justin Ling December 1, 2017 1 December 2017

VICE journalist privilege case heads to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that promises to redefine the parameters of press freedom.

The top court granted leave for appeal in R v. Vice Media on Thursday, which paves the way for what could be the most important ruling for press freedom since R. v. National Post in 2010.

The top court’s decision to wade into the case may spell a willingness to move the goalposts on how police can obtain information from journalists.

What’s the case about?

In 2015, an Ontario court signed off on an RCMP production order, ordering Vice and its reporter Ben Makuch to surrender all his notes and communications with Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a Canadian believed to have travelled to the Islamic State, as well as any communications internally at Vice regarding several interviews with Shidon.

The U.S-based media company, which also has offices in Canada, fought the production order, arguing that, if the courts allow journalists and media organizations to become appendages for police investigations, it could severely weaken freedom of the press in Canada.

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Equality rights

Federal government apologizes to LGBTQ Canadians at last

By Justin Ling November 28, 2017 28 November 2017

Federal government apologizes to LGBTQ Canadians at last

 

Justin Trudeau made a formal apology in the House of Commons this afternoon, trying to make amends for decades of harassment and discrimination aimed at LGBTQ Canadians by the federal government.

That apology, and the symbolism behind it, is the bookend of a class action lawsuit launched by hundreds of veterans and former public servants who faced investigations, interrogations, and even firings due to anti-LGBTQ policies held by the federal government for most of the 20th century, right up until the 1990s.

As part of the apology, Trudeau has also tabled legislation to expunge the criminal records of those arrested and prosecuted under anti-gay laws.

What is the LGBTQ purge?

For decades, Ottawa tried to ferret out queer members of the public service. At times, that campaign was made possible by using a polygraph machine designed to identify LGBTQ individuals. In some cases, the Canadian government attempted to rid those public servants of their same-sex attractions.

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The Supreme Court

A convenient forum for a libel action

By Justin Ling November 21, 2017 21 November 2017

A convenient forum for a libel action

 

Once again the Supreme Court of Canada is tasked with addressing how Canadian courts assume jurisdiction in the context of online activity.

Next week, the top court will hear arguments on whether Canadian businessman Mitchell Goldhar’s defamation lawsuit against an Israeli daily should be heard in Ontario.

The case itself turns on an article Haaretz published in 2011 alleging that Goldhar was mismanaging the Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club he owns. In that piece, the author contends that Goldhar’s “lack of long-term planning” and “penny pinching” could be hobbling the team. It lays a large part of the problem on the fact that Goldhar was running his team largely from Canada.

But instead of suing Haaretz in Israel, where the article was read tens-of-thousands of times, Goldhar filed in Ontario.

Haaretz, by its own admission, has no footprint in Canada: No headquarters, no reporters, no subscribers. It does not even send printed copies to Canada.

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Offshore tax

Paradise Papers: Tackling creative compliance

By Justin Ling November 6, 2017 6 November 2017

Paradise Papers: Tackling creative compliance

 

It’s been more than a year since a consortium of news outlets worldwide released details on an international network of tax havens and shelters, some employed by the rich and powerful to avoid domestic taxes, known as the Panama Papers dump.

The leaks led to resignations in Iceland, Malta, Spain, and rocked governments the world over. Canada, however, was relatively spared.

But Trudeau’s inner circle was implicated in murky tax avoidance this week, after the Toronto Star and CBC/Radio-Canada published details from the Paradise Papers, more leaks from the world of tax shelters and aggressive tax avoidance.

What do the documents say? The Star reported Sunday that Stephen Bronfman and Leo Kolber, two prominent Liberal fundraisers and allies of the Trudeau family, held a Cayman Islands trust to hold revenue from the Bronfman family’s Israeli investments.

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Trade

Is the TPP coming back from the dead?

By Justin Ling October 24, 2017 24 October 2017

Is the TPP coming back from the dead?

 

When we last checked in with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it was a deal wounded but not dead.

After the United States withdrew from the controversial agreement, trade watchers anticipated the remaining 11 signatories would simply let the deal fall away. It was assumed that substantial changes to the text would be required, and even re-ratification for the two signatories (Japan and New Zealand) who have already given their formal consent to the deal.

And yet, the deal limped on. New rounds of negotiations were held. Governments have voiced voice tepid optimism that a deal could still be reached with those remaining.

Where are we at now? Just as things appeared to look up for the beleaguered deal, it faced new hurdles. While TPP-boosting Shinzo Abe (pictured above) easily won re-election in Japan this past weekend, his New Zealand counterpart was unceremoniously dumped after failing to secure a majority in September’s elections. New Zealand First, a populist party, threw its support behind the country’s Labour Party and now sits as a junior coalition member in an avowedly trade-skeptic government, which also includes the Green Party.

New Zealand First reports in its official policy book that they intend to “oppose investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in bilateral and multilateral agreements and by extension the Trans Pacific Partnership-11, which offers little for our exporters.

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