The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Justin Ling

Freedom of expression

Satire v. defamation

By Justin Ling May 11, 2016 11 May 2016


Earlier this month, Matt Brand opened his email to find a cease-and-desist letter from lawyer Nancy Rubin.

“While you are free to express your opinions on matters of public interest, so long as they are based on true facts, the creation of an entirely false group page and fake quotes is indefensible,” Rubin wrote.

Brand was guilty as charged, insofar as he had fabricated the quotes.

He had used his website, Brand Review, to take aim at the Steele Group, which runs a local Honda dealership in Halifax’s north end. The dealership had recently bought up a swath of homes adjacent to its already-sprawling lot, and was moving to demolish them to expand its property. A fervour sprung up in the community, branded with the hashtag #HomesNotHondas.

Brand’s story carried the headline: "Steele Group launches Hondas not Homes campaign."

“After people in the community started the Homes not Hondas group, the Steele group decided to fire back, noting that residents in North End Halifax have made this issue all about them,” Brand writes in the story. He then quotes Rob Steele, president of the Honda dealer that owns the lot: “This isn’t about them,” Brand quotes Steele as saying. “This is about people living outside of the area, coming here, looking to get a great lease price on our spectacular line-up of 2016 Hondas.”

Obviously, that quote — like all the quotes in the story — is fake. The story is satire, like everything on Brand’s site. There is a #satire hashtag at the bottom of the story. The “about” page reads: “This is a satirical news and parody website covering Nova Scotia. It’s like The Onion, but for Nova Scotia. So, you can think of it as The Potato, if you wish.”

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Immunity in the international fight against corruption

By Justin Ling May 6, 2016 6 May 2016


It was a case that could have significantly complicated future cooperation between the World Bank and national law enforcement agencies. In the end, however, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled at the end of April that the international monetary organization had immunity from a third-party records application filed by defense counsel in an ongoing corruption case involving executives of SNC-Lavalin.

The outcome of the ruling in World Bank Group v. Wallace nevertheless has some legal experts worried about the impact it will have on due process for those accused of participating in corruption in the future.

The case involved former employees of SNC‑Lavalin charged with conspiring to bribe Bangladeshi officials to award to SNC‑Lavalin a contract to supervise the construction of a bridge in Bangladesh.

As a primary lender backing the project, the World Bank's investigative arm, the Integrity Vice Presidency, had initially handed over the fruits of their investigation to the RCMP. The evidence purported to show that staff from the engineering firm was preparing to bribe government officials in Bangladesh. The RCMP applied, and got, wiretap orders that were the basis for later prosecution.

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Indigenous rights

Free and unfettered trade: An ancestral right?

By Justin Ling April 28, 2016 28 April 2016

After years of landmark decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada on Indigenous rights — defining the parameters of everything from ancestral rights to the duty to consult — Timothé Huot is hoping for one more victory.

“I think the status of the Royal Proclamation is an issue that the Supreme Court should finally decide on,” Huot told CBA National.

And that’s what he intends to do. On Monday, Huot was instructed by his clients to seek leave to appeal to the to court in his long-standing fight to get his clients, Mohawks from the reserve of Kahnawake, near Montreal, to be exempt from the provincial and federal gas tax system.

CBA National has already covered their fight at the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal.

The case, Jack W. Leclaire, et al. v. Attorney General of Canada, et al., involves 11 Kahnawake gas merchants who claim they should not be required to collect provincial and federal sales tax from the non-status Indian travellers at the pump.

Huot has, thus far, failed to convince either of the lower courts of that idea.

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Waiting for Canada's national securities regulator

By Justin Ling April 21, 2016 21 April 2016

It’s been five years since the Supreme Court told the federal government that Ottawa’s dream for a national securities regulator was not compatible, as it was drafted, with the constitution.

The second half of the Harper years, hardly the high water mark for federal-provincial cooperation, saw some progress on the file. The question now is whether a new Liberal government will breath some new life into streamlining Canada’s capital markets regulatory framework.

The Cooperative Capital Market Regulator (CCMR), a project spearheaded by the late Jim Flaherty, brought the stand-alone markets of British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, PEI and Yukon together under a single umbrella.

But there are as many holdouts as there are sign-ups, with both Quebec and Alberta balking at the CCMR — a best effort that isn’t even online yet. And even if all the provinces sign up, the voluntary nature of the regulator raises questions about exactly how it is expected to operate. The planned launch has been pushed back to the fall. But the last consultation document sent out by the CCMR four months ago, seeking comment from all six parties, who have said that the windows for comment were too short.

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End of life

Canada's new medically-assisted dying law

By Justin Ling April 14, 2016 14 April 2016

Canada's new medically-assisted dying law

More than a year after the ruling in Carter v. Canada, the country finally has legislation on physician-assisted suicide — Bill C-14.

And, by and large, the neophyte Trudeau government hasn’t deviated much from the narrow legal path laid out by the Supreme Court of Canada.

But there’s one big exception: To obtain medical aid in euthanasia from a Canadian doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, the patient must be suffering from a disease where death is “reasonably foreseeable.”  That’s somewhat of a departure from the Supreme Court’s requirement that a person must have “a serious and incurable disease, illness or disability” and be in “an advanced state of irreversible decline of capability.”

While that new provisions remain broad and vague — the act stipulates that the order can be given “without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time that they have remaining” — the government concedes that the work required to regulate physician-assisted dying in Canada is far from over.

“We are committed to further studying the contentious issues around mature minors, advanced directives, and situations where mental illness is the sole underlying condition,” said Health Minister Jane Philpott at a Thursday morning press conference.

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