The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

CBA influence

Canada’s unilingual constitution: More than just bad optics

By Kim Covert November 30, 2018 30 November 2018


Words matter. When it comes to the Constitution – the document which guarantees the equality of English and French – the fact that the majority of constitutional documents are available in English only makes it look like the words are more equal in one language than the other.

The optics, as they say, are bad.

“The lack of a complete official French version of the constitutional documents … has a jarring symbolic effect, and is an affront to the equality of status of both official languages in Canada and to our Constitution’s underlying fundamental principles, which are the rule of law and the protection of minorities,” say the CBA’s French-Speaking Common Law Members Section and Constitutional and Human Rights Section in a joint submission to the Parliamentary committee studying the modernization of the Official Languages Act.

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CBA influence

Canada’s labour market impact assessment is too unpredictable

By Kim Covert November 29, 2018 29 November 2018


The CBA’s Immigration Law Section is taking the federal review of the standards and fees associated with the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Labour Market Impact Assessment Process as an opportunity to reiterate its arguments that the process does not serve the interests of employers – and can have a negative impact on the employment of Canadians.

There are knock-on effects when obstacles are placed in the way of prospective employers who want to bring in foreign workers, the Section says. If a meatpacking operation can’t bring in workers for processing jobs where there is a shortage of workers in Canada, for example, that could mean direct and indirect losses in related industries such as transportation, marketing, trade, etc.

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CBA influence

Delays can be a disincentive to applying for an open work permit

By Kim Covert November 28, 2018 28 November 2018


Officials at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada have made a lot of improvements to the spousal sponsorship process in recent years, but problems remain, particularly in the area of the timeliness of approvals for work permits.

In the case of out of status sponsored spouses applying for work permits, the CBA Immigration Law Section writes in a letter to IRCC, the applicants will either not receive the permit, or will receive it only at the end stage of their permanent residence application. “By this point, the processing time for the work permit will exceed the remaining processing time for the sponsorship application. This creates a disincentive for out of status sponsored spouses to apply for an open work permit due to the perception that it will be a waste of time and money.”

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CBA influence

Canada should facilitate asylum for targeted LGBTI+ individuals in Tanzania

By Kim Covert November 23, 2018 23 November 2018


The headlines out of Tanzania tell the story of dangerous and deadly times for the country’s LGBTI+ community, as many gay men are in hiding from vigilante squads on a mission to find and arrest them.

While the Tanzanian government says it does not support these measures, the CBA’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community says it expects “the proposed plan has already further marginalized Tanzania’s LGBTI+ community by inciting hatred, discrimination and possibly violence.”

SOGIC has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland asking the government to take steps to help support LGBTI+ individuals living in Tanzania, to ensure their well-being and safety.

The government can do this, SOGIC says, by obtaining information with regard to the extent to which the LGBTI+ community is being targeted; denouncing any actual or threatened human rights abuses against that community and individuals in it; and facilitating asylum in Canada for LGBTI+ individuals fleeing persecution.

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Automation bias may be the end of us all

By Kim Covert November 7, 2018 7 November 2018

Automation bias may be the end of us all


Game 2, Move 37. A machine, AlphaGo, made a move in the game of Go that no human would have made.

AlphaGo itself worked out the chances of a human making that move as one in 10,000.

That 2016 game marked a turning point in the field of artificial intelligence – the machine had been able to teach itself to make such a “genius” move.

Two games later, AlphaGo’s human opponent, Lee Sedol, one of the world’s best Go players, made a move that AlphaGo did not expect – another one in 10,000 move that threw AlphaGo off its game so badly that Sedol won his first and only game of the five-game match.

One thing that stands out for the world of AI in these games is that playing against the machine made the human player better – if AlphaGo hadn’t startled him so with Move 37, Sedol might not have made his own move, which followers dubbed “God’s Touch.”

The thing that’s important about Game 2, Move 37 as far as the law is concerned, says University of Ottawa professor Ian Kerr, is that the machine making an unprogrammed move was not a matter of product liability or failure – the move was unprogrammed but not, in a real sense unanticipated.

We need new paradigms for thinking about a world where machines can teach themselves to do things humans wouldn’t, Kerr told a recent CBA Privacy and Access to Information Law conference session on artificial intelligence.

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