The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Justin Ling

Internet law

B.C. appeals court: Virtual presence enough to enforce production order

By Justin Ling January 17, 2018 17 January 2018

B.C. appeals court: Virtual presence enough to enforce production order


Since the Supreme Court passed down its decision last June in Equustek, lawyers have been waiting with baited breath to see just how broad an interpretation the new internet regime will receive from the courts. Global tech companies, including Google, hoped to see the Canadian — and even American — tribunals rein in the ability of our courts to order companies to take actions beyond our jurisdictional borders.

A recent B.C. appellate decision suggests that Equustek isn’t going to be relegated to a tiny corner of Canadian law. It is very much the standard.

What happened with Equustek? Ever last year’s Supreme Court ruling in Equustek that Canadian courts have jurisdiction to make orders for foreign-based internet companies that carry on business in Canada, there have been concerns about the practical implications.

Read More

Ottawa's justice agenda in 2018

By Justin Ling January 2, 2018 2 January 2018

Ottawa's justice agenda in 2018


Well into the second half of its mandate, the Trudeau government has a lot of work left to do.

Ottawa’s mandate letter tracker, an attempt by the government to grade its own success on the commitments it made after coming into office, reports that it has followed through on just three justice-related files: Adding gender identity as a protected grounds under the federal Human Rights Act and Criminal Code, coming up with a  legislative response to the Carter v. Canada ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding physician-assisted dying, and ensuring an appointment process for Supreme Court Justices that is “transparent, inclusive and accountable to Canadians.” (Some lawyers would question whether that third point is really a victory for the government.)

As for the rest of the justice file, the government has its work cut out for it when Parliament returns in late January, and will need to put a rush on if it wants to finish up its priorities before the next election.

Here’s a quick rundown of some items to watch for in 2018.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
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.

Read More