The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association
Tax

Closing tax loopholes for professionals who incorporate

By Mark Bourrie July 19, 2017 19 July 2017

Closing tax loopholes for professionals who incorporate

 

Canada’s finance minister is taking aim at professionals who use personal corporations to avoid income tax.

Mentioning lawyers and medical doctors specifically, Bill Morneau said the federal treasury is missing out on about $500 million per year because of the way professionals are handling their corporations. There has been an eight-fold increate in the number of corporations created in Canada under federal and provincial laws since 1972, Morneau said.

The minister said the government will close loopholes that all corporation owners to dodge taxes three ways:

Read More
Family Law

A “post-gender”, post-truth look at Canadian family law

By Kerri Froc July 18, 2017 18 July 2017

A “post-gender”, post-truth look at Canadian family law


Post-truth – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’ - Oxford English Dictionaries (Word of the Year for 2016)

As a former family law practitioner, I read with interest Omar Ha-Redeye’s column on “self-represented litigants” and the bias they feel in family law courts.  He writes that while family law has changed “in some ways” to reflect social norms (such as same-sex marriage), in others it hasn’t changed “nearly enough.”  The offending areas of law he points to are support laws (which need to reflect “more partners equitably shar[ing] family responsibilities and society moves away from the traditional sole-breadwinner model,”) and child custody (to rid it of “perceived” gender bias and “credence given to false allegations of abuse,” among other things).  Of course, when he is writing about self-represented litigants here, the context makes clear this is a code phrase for men.

The notion that there is gender bias against men in family law matters is not new.  Ha-Redeye notes that “litigants” (presumably fathers’ rights advocates) made this claim before the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access, which reported in December 1998.  However, the committee found no gender bias, only that fathers who testified “perceived” there was bias.  Nevertheless, the committee at times seemed to treat the perception as if it were reality, resulting in a report that that Professor Nicholas Bala calls “not well written,” having a “’pro father’ slant’” and failing to reflect the reality of how judges were adjudicating cases.

Read More
Indigenous law

Sustainable development as a moral obligation tied to aboriginal title

By Supriya Tandan July 17, 2017 17 July 2017

Sustainable development as a moral obligation tied to aboriginal title

 

It would be fitting were the Prime Minister to name an Indigenous person to fill Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin's seat after she steps down in December. 

After all, it was under her tenure that the Supreme Court of Canada took great pains to strengthen indigenous rights, relying in large part on honour and reconciliation as the twin moral obligations that should guide Canada in its stewardship of certain lands. In her court’s later years, it appears to have added a third that could change how we view our collective responsibility in terms of owning land: sustainability.

The Crown draws its power to manage lands via the sovereignty proclamation. However this power is not absolute and in the words of the court, is “burdened” by land that belongs to aboriginal communities.

Read More
The Supreme Court

SCC appointment process: tradition of regional representation respected

By CBA/ABC National July 17, 2017 17 July 2017

SCC appointment process: tradition of regional representation respected

The appointments process is now open to select the next justice of the Supreme Court of Canada who will fill retiring of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s seat.

As was the case in 2016, when Justice Malcolm Rowe was appointed, an independent and non-partisan Advisory Board will be formed to identify candidates suitable for the position.

What’s different this time around is that the appointments process now explicitly recognizes regional convention, meaning that it open only to candidates from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. The Chief Justice initially appointed as a Puisne Justice in 1989 from the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Traditionally, two seats are held by Western Canada.  Justice Russell Brown is currently the other member of the top court from the region.

“Honouring regional representation means that our highest court will continue to represent all regions of Canada,” CBA President René Basque said in a statement.

In June, Basque wrote to the government to reiterate the CBA’s request that the government uphold the convention of regional representation as a core element of diversity

Read More
CBA Futures

Legal futures round-up

By Yves Faguy July 14, 2017 14 July 2017

Legal futures round-up

 

Inspired by the CBA Legal Futures report on Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, here’s our regular round-up of noteworthy developments, opinions and news in the legal futures space as a means of furthering discussion about our changing legal marketplace.

To kick things off, here’s an issue law firms are going to have to seriously address: their security weak spots. A recent study reveals that there is a “widespread lack of cybersecurity in law firms" and reports that  two-thirds of the 200 responding law firms had reported some sort of cyber breach. Also worrisome, many don’t have cybersecurity insurance.

That report was released as news hit that global law firm DLA Piper suffered a major cyber attack -- yet another a reminder that law firms are a choice target for hackers.

Some firms are taking the threat seriously. International immigration services firm Fragomen announced it is opening an immigration technology innovation lab in Pittsburgh, to be staffed with 40-50 professional – none of them lawyers. The office is going to be focused on software development and cybersecurity.

On the technology front, Julie Sobowale explores blockchain and what it means for legal professionals.  Here’s a hint: Smart contracts, which explains why AIG is teaming up with IBM “to develop a "smart" insurance policy that uses blockchain to manage complex international coverage.”

Read More
CBA Influence

Working the convention: Regional representation on the SCC, please

By Kim Covert July 13, 2017 13 July 2017

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s announcement in June that she will be retiring at the end of 2017 means the government will soon start the process to fill her seat on the Supreme Court. Once again, the CBA is asking the government make an appointment based on merit, ensuring that the court reflects the full diversity of Canada’s regions, legal systems and population.

McLachlin’s seat on the court is one of the two traditionally held by Western Canada. The jury is out, however, on whether that seat should go to a jurist from British Columbia, which is where the Alberta-born McLachlin was a sitting judge before her appointment to the Supreme Court, or to any of the four provinces west of Ontario.

Read More
Intellectual property

Copyright fees at York: Federal Court rejects fair dealing

By Justin Ling July 13, 2017 13 July 2017

Copyright fees at York: Federal Court rejects fair dealing


A lengthy copyright battle, which a Federal Court judge compared to the chain of events that sparked World War I, between York University and a rights holder consortium has resulted in a blow for the fair dealing exemption.

The decision, says Canadian copyright expert Michael Geist, “moves in precisely the opposite direction with restrictive language that other courts and the Copyright Board have rejected.”

The case goes back to 2010, when the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (also known as Access Copyright) proposed to the Copyright Board of Canada that post-secondary institutions be charged $45 per each full-time employee (or equivalent) per year.  That represents a major hike from the previous $3.38 annual fee, topped up with a $0.10 per page royalty, that had applied up to 2010.

Read More
Arbitration

Litigation funding: CETA’s disclosure requirements

By Yves Faguy July 11, 2017 11 July 2017

Litigation funding: CETA’s disclosure requirements

 

There is still resistance in some jurisdictions, such as Ireland, to third-party litigation finance. But the market, globally, continues to make headway, particularly as Hong Kong has now allowed the practice in arbitration and mediation matters.

What sets Hong Kong apart from other jurisdictions, though, is that it has imposed requirements on funded parties to disclose the funding arrangement, as well as the identity of the third-party funder, all with a view to addressing concerns about conflicts of interest between the various parties involved.

In the arbitration context there is currently no explicit requirement for litigants to disclose their funding arrangements in Canada  (though in Ontario a court may force the disclosure of such an arrangement to the opposing party in the class action context).

Read More
Blog

Omar Khadr civil suit settlement: Canadian experts weigh in

By Mariane Gravelle July 10, 2017 10 July 2017

It’s front page news: last week, the federal government reached a settlement with Omar Khadr in a civil suit (read about it here). Khadr and his team filed the suit against the government alleging a violation of his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by Canadian officials during his incarceration at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

As one can expect in such a polarized case, this settlement elicited a wide range of reactions from citizens, journalists and politicians alike.  Many decry the fact that a person they consider to be a former terrorist has now been made a millionaire at taxpayers’ expense. Vancouver radio host Charles Adler, cited by the Globe and Mail, sums up this opinion:

“This is not residential schools we’re apologizing for. We’re apologizing to an enemy combatant who betrayed his country and went overseas to build roadside bombs. […] Most [people on the street] think that when you turn your guns on your own country, you stop being a Canadian.”

Still, others believe that the settlement is justified.

Read More
Blog

Federal government settles civil suit launched by Omar Khadr

By Mariane Gravelle July 7, 2017 7 July 2017

In a midday press conference on Friday, the federal government publicly acknowledged that it had reached a settlement in a civil suit launched against it by former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.

While details of this settlement remain confidential, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould stated that that it included a written apology that will soon be put on public record.

Mr. Goodale explained that neither the civil case nor the ensuing settlement were about Mr. Khadr’s actions in Afghanistan. Rather, this case examined the question of whether the behaviour of Canadian officials towards Mr. Khadr during his imprisonment violated his rights as a Canadian citizen.

Read More
The Practice

Got stress? What to do before the burnout hits

By Ann Macaulay July 7, 2017 7 July 2017

Got stress? What to do before the burnout hits

 

Many young lawyers struggle with high levels of stress and often leave the practice of law altogether because of it. Conflict, long hours, demanding clients, competition and the constant pressure to be perfect can be stressful for even the toughest, most experienced lawyers.

Fortunately, there are many ways to cope before burnout hits. Most people typically start with the basics to fight stress: exercise, eat and sleep properly, take vacations, meditate, practise mindfulness and don’t isolate yourself from others. But there’s even more that can be done.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, says Gary Mitchell, CEO and founder of On Trac Coach in Vancouver. “Don’t try and do it on your own. You may think you’re the smartest person in the room but often you’re not because other people have other skills. Surround yourself with those other people.”

Read More
CBA Community: Young Lawyers International Program

Finding a calling far from home

By Beverley Spencer July 6, 2017 6 July 2017

Finding a calling far from home


Persia Sayyari’s path to the BC Coroners’ Service took her via Constitution Hill, a former prison in Johannesburg where men and women who fought apartheid were once incarcerated.

Home to South Africa’s Constitutional Court and the offices of the South African History Archive (SAHA), it’s where she worked as an intern with the Young Lawyers International Program in 2012-13. Her experience there shaped her decision to pursue a career with an investigative role – as a coroner who conducts preliminary investigations of unnatural, unexpected or unexplained deaths.

It’s a long way from SAHA, an independent human rights archive that preserves histories about struggles for social justice and uses access to information laws to support present-day activism.  But the work was an eye-opener for someone who, as an articling student, had been frustrated with how the human elements of a case can be ignored during litigation.

Read More

Current Issue

Editor's Picks

Unanimous SCC confirms Jordan framework on trial delays

Editor's Picks

Blockchain for in-house counsel

Editor's Picks

Why Canada needs limits on immigration detention

National TV

  • Thumb

    CBA's intervention in Lloyd v. R

  • Thumb

    Margaret Hagan on the role law schools can play in fostering innovation

  • Thumb

    Melina Buckley on the importance of legal aid benchmarks in Canada

View All Videos

Partners In Your Success