The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association
Article

Breaking the silence about eating disorders

By CBA/ABC National April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

Breaking the silence about eating disorders

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Article

I love technology — but there’s a limit

By Douglas Mah April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

I love technology — but there’s a limit

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Article

Is newer better? Not always

By Katya Hodge April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

Is newer better? Not always

According to the 2014 Ilta/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey, overall law firm spending on new technology is up. Fifty-four per cent of all respondents spend two to four per cent of total firm revenue on technology, a six per cent increase compared to the 2013 findings. 

For the most part, this is cause for celebration, an indication of the profession finally embracing the value and benefits of technology. But new technology is not always better. 

“New technology applied to a bad process will not improve the process,” says Vivian Manning, IT manager at Barriston Law. “Much technology is both expensive and oversold, and viewed as a silver bullet, then fails to live up to expectations.”

Before making changes, explains Manning, you need to be sure that existing technology is being used to its full capacity.

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Article

Beyond the firewall

By Pablo Fuchs April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

Beyond the firewall

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Article

Put technology to work for you

By Julie Sobowale April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

Put technology to work for you

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Q&A

Interview with Irwin Cotler

By Yves Faguy April 21, 2015 21 April 2015

Interview with Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler is leaving the House of Commons at the end of his term but he isn’t quitting his day job fighting for the rights of political prisoners.  National recently sat down with the Liberal MP and former minister of justice to discuss a range of topics for our upcoming print issue.  Below is an excerpt, in which we discussed his human rights work defending, among others, Venezuelan politician Leopoldo López, Iranian senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein Boroujerdi, who advocates the separation of religion and government and imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

National: You're not running again in the upcoming federal election. How do you feel about this chapter of your life coming to a close? 

Irwin Cotler: At this point I'm one of the oldest members in the House of Commons, if not the eldest, and I sort of felt the time had come, to use that cliché, for the torch to be passed to a younger generation.  I will continue to be active on all the issues that I have been engaged in, including defence of political prisoners. I just will be doing it from outside the Parliamentary arena rather than within.

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Criminal law

No empirical evidence

By Justin Ling April 14, 2015 14 April 2015

No empirical evidence

A split decision from the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning heralded bad news for the Conservatives’ tough-on-crime agenda, and signals a tough path ahead for Harper’s mandatory minimum sentencing regime. Yet, there are also concerns that the Court just struck a needlessly broad precedent.

A decision in R. v. Nur was rendered from the top bench after five months of deliberations.

The case before them was a complex one: two appeals were before them. Neither of the sentences were found to be unconstitutional, but defence counsel nevertheless argued that they could have been, if it were applied in a certain scenario. In other words, the hypothetical impact of the laws in question could have a grossly disproportionate impact on someone in a thoroughly unlucky situation.

The case stems from an Ontario Court of Appeal decision declaring s.95(1) of the Criminal Code  making the possession of a non-licensed restricted or prohibited loaded weapon an offence carrying a mandatory minimum of three years — unconstitutional. But as National reported after that decision, it wasn’t that the mandatory minimum was itself the heart of the issue, it was the hybrid nature of the offence.

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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption

By Justin Ling April 10, 2015 10 April 2015

The fight against corruption

The federal government has declared war on corruption and fraud, and in the process has designed a framework to ensure that it does business only with responsible partners. But could the framework now be too restrictive?

Last March, Ottawa updated its public works integrity framework. At the time, it didn’t raise many eyebrows. But in the last several months, corporations, lawyers and NGOs have begun to worry about the measures.

The framework, administered by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) is a mechanism by which the federal government can disbar companies from participating in public contracting. If a company is found guilty in connection with a litany of crimes under the Criminal Code or the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act— fraud, big-rigging, corruption, money laundering, bribery, extortion, drug trafficking, and so on — it will become ineligible from doing business in Canada.

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Labour and employment

Understanding the right to strike

By George G. Vuicic April 9, 2015 9 April 2015

Understanding the right to strike

The potential impact of a recent Supreme Court ruling on labour relations in Canada is immense, as it represents a significant reorientation of longstanding principles of law. It is one that will be felt most keenly by governments, which must now consider the right to strike when fashioning labour policy and new labour law statutes, and particularly when deciding whether to intervene in labour disputes, as governments do from time to time.  The extent to which the Court’s decision will impact employers generally, however, is less clear. 

In Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, the Supreme Court of Canada found that “freedom of association” under the Charter includes a right to strike, and that the prohibition against strikes in Saskatchewan’s “essential services” legislation was not saved by section 1 of the Charter.  The Court’s decision fundamentally changes the balance that has existed in Canadian labour relations law for many years.

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Bill C-51

Parliamentarians and national security

By Justin Ling April 2, 2015 2 April 2015

Parliamentarians and national security

Would a Parliamentary intelligence oversight committee really risk Canadian lives?

That’s what Justice Minister Peter MacKay says. “For matters of national security, I am concerned about the handling of sensitive information that could literally put a person's life at risk,” MacKay recently told the Senate security committee. “The handling of this type of information, if ever used for partisan purposes, if ever leaked, even in sometimes a partial way, could very much put national security interests at risk.”

MacKay was firing back at suggestions that Canada’s spy agencies — CSIS and CSE — need more robust oversight. Currently, both have review bodies that operate on an informal basis: they request documents and files, and the agencies chose to furnish them, or not.“We have other more recent examples in our own Parliament where a confidential list of potential Supreme Court appointees was leaked by a parliamentary committee,” added MacKay.

The minister employed a variety of reasons why a Parliamentary oversight body would be wrong for Canada — our review bodies do enough, adding red tape would hobble investigations, Parliamentary committees are open to corruption — but raising the fear that it could be a leaky ship appears to be his favourite thus far.

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Practice

What’s in a digital signature?

By Amir Tajkarimi March 31, 2015 31 March 2015

What’s in a digital signature?

Electronic signature has been around for several years. Decades even. In fact, the first ruling on the validity of the electronic signature was in 1867 when the Superior Court of New York recognized the signature via telegraph.

E-signature is prevalent today among financial institutions and with government authorities. The old doubts have disappeared with the advent of solutions increasingly safe and intuitive. Computerization and the global business environment necessarily involve the use of electronic signature. Less paper, less back-and-forth, efficiency and safety: these are the intrinsic advantages of the electronic signature.

Confusing matters, however, is the fact that the terms “electronic signature” and “digital signature” are often used interchangeably.  And yet they are different concepts and have distinct set of features and functions.  

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Article

C-51 and privacy rights

By Justin Ling March 26, 2015 26 March 2015

C-51 and privacy rights

Canada’s new anti-terrorism legislation is inching the country closer to “total information awareness,” according to legal experts.

And with virtually no oversight built into bill C-51, and its wide-ranging information-sharing provisions, concerns are being raised about just how far a government can go when the information silos – the ones built to safeguard privacy and prevent abuse – are completely destroyed.

The information-sharing piece of the legislation vastly expands the power of the Security of Information Act renamed the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act (SCISA) outlining a schedule of departments that can freely receive intelligence from any other department or agency.

The Harper Government has billed it as a relaxation of the rules in cases of national security, especially when it comes to sharing information about radicalized individuals between Citizenship and Immigration Canada, CSIS, and the RCMP.

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