Human Rights Laws and Inclusion of New Grounds—Criminal Record

Human Rights Laws and Inclusion of New Grounds—Criminal Record

Photo: Flickr/William Palmer...

Various provincial and federal jurisdictions choose to protect people from discrimination on various grounds in areas such as employment, services customarily available to the public and tenancy. In some cases, the grounds protected are the same across jurisdictions. In others, court challenges have resulted in court orders that grounds are to be read into human rights law (e.g., “sexual orientation” was read into Alberta’s human rights law by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Vriend case in 1998.)

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Supreme Court of Canada Protects Freedom of Expression of Individuals During Election Campaigns

Supreme Court of Canada Protects Freedom of Expression of Individuals During Election Campaigns

Photo: Flickr/ Jill Erickson

In this case, which involves political speech that is at the very core of protected expression in Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) ruling doesn’t turn on lofty values as much as it relies on statutory interpretation. It also provides some interesting discussion on the amount of evidence the government must provide in order to defend a violation of Charter section 2(b) under Charter section 1 in the election context.

 

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Pregnancy Discrimination Remains an Issue

Pregnancy Discrimination Remains an Issue

Photo: Flickr/ Evgenia Rigaut

Whenever I teach undergrad students about gender discrimination, they are often quite shocked to discover that as recently as the 1970s, there was a Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruling that found that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy was not a form of gender discrimination (See: Bliss v Canada (Attorney General), [1979] 1 SCR 183 (Bliss)). However, the SCC reversed itself in Brooks v Canada Safeway, [1989] 1 SCR 1219 (Brooks). Afterward, protection from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy was clearly provided in human rights law across Canada. Although an entire generation has grown with the understanding that women cannot be discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy (e.g., in employment, rental accommodation or services customarily available to the public), there are indications of incidents involving pregnancy discrimination in today’s Canada.

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Human Rights and A Poisoned Work Environment

Human Rights and A Poisoned Work Environment

Photo: Flickr/ Tom Baugis

There have been several recent news stories about harassment issues in Canadian workplaces. For example, a 2013 review of the Calgary Police Services workplace was recently released, containing detailed allegations of sexual harassment, intimidation, bullying and even sexual assault within the force. Another example occurred when a class-action lawsuit was launched alleging discrimination and harassment within the RCMP. The lawsuit was settled in 2016, resulting in an apology and a potential $100 million in payouts.

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Supporting Transgender People in the Workplace

Supporting Transgender People in the Workplace

Photo: Flickr/ Mike Gifford

The Alberta Human Rights Act (Act), RSA 2000, c. A-25.5, protects people from discrimination in employment based on gender identity and gender expression under section 7 of the AHR Act:

7 (1) No employer shall

(a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ any person, or

(b) discriminate against any person with regard to employment or any term or condition of employment,

because of the …gender identity, gender expression … of that person or of any other person.

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Freedom of Expression Versus Privacy Rights: Stay of Enforcement of an Interim Mandatory Injunction in the Context of Publication Bans

Freedom of Expression Versus Privacy Rights: Stay of Enforcement of an Interim Mandatory Injunction in the Context of Publication Bans

Photo: Flickr/g4ll4is

In two previous ABlawg posts (see here and here), I commented on the decisions in R v Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2016 ABQB 204, overturned 2016 ABCA 326 (CanLII), in which Alberta courts dealt with the issue of whether the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) should be able to retain identifying information about a youthful homicide victim on its website. A majority of the Court of Appeal granted the Crown’s application for a mandatory injunction banning the continued publication of this material. In a follow-up decision, Mr. Justice Berger granted a Stay of Enforcement of the majority judgment pending an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada (see R v Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2016ABCA 372 (CanLII) at para 14).

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Publication Bans and Interim Mandatory Injunctions in the Context of Freedom of Expression and the Privacy of Youthful Victims

Publication Bans and Interim Mandatory Injunctions in the Context of Freedom of Expression and the Privacy of Youthful Victims

Photo: Flickr/ Sebastien Wiertz

The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in R v Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2016 ABQB 204 (CanLII) (CBC QB) denied an interim mandatory injunction and allowed the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to retain past posts with identifying information of a youthful victim on the CBC website. The Crown appealed the denial of the interim mandatory injunction. The Majority at the Court of Appeal held that the Chambers Judge applied the wrong legal test, that the injunction is a civil matter attached to a criminal charge, and that the Chambers Judge had considered a number of irrelevant factors. Thus, the Court of Appeal overturned the prior decision and granted an interim mandatory injunction. In my previous blog post, I criticized the Court of Queen’s Bench decision because that decision gave priority to freedom of expression of the media over a young victim’s privacy rights. One of the major purposes of a publication ban is to protect a child victim’s privacy and thereby ensure future victims will come forward with the assurance of anonymity. In R v Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2016 ABCA 326 (CanLII) the Court granted the interim mandatory injunction and maintained the integrity of the administration of justice by protecting the identity of the youthful victim in public interest.

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The Application of the Charter to a Protest on the Siksika Nation

The Application of the Charter to a Protest on the Siksika Nation

Photo: Flickr/Derek Gavey

Recently there have been several cases involving the issue of whether the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) applies in a context where there is some government or public nexus but the action may be characterized as one involving private parties. See for example, my previous post on the application of the Charter to Universities.

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Selim v Alberta: Reasonableness is Not Always Fairness

Selim v Alberta: Reasonableness is Not Always Fairness

Photo: Flickr/ roseflrerlslng

This case involves a judicial review, on a standard of reasonableness, of a refusal by the Information and Privacy Commissioner to conduct an inquiry stemming from a decision by the Calgary Police Service (CPS) to close an access to information request file. The decision of Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice J.B. Veit hinges on the legislative intent behind the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA), RSA 2000 c F-25, and the authority of the Commissioner to refuse to conduct an inquiry, as well as on the reliability of the evidence on which the Commissioner relied in making the decision. However, the decision in this case has wider implications that fall outside of the scope of judicial review, and points to a striking lack of accountability on the part of CPS when it comes to the conduct of one of its own. Rather than address the magnitude of the injustice to which the appellant was subjected in this case, Justice Veit focuses almost exclusively on applying a standard of reasonableness in reviewing the decision of the Commissioner.

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Legalizing Marijuana Use in Canada: Some Concerns

Legalizing Marijuana Use in Canada: Some Concerns

Photo: Flickr/Tomas de Aquino

The possession of marijuana in Canada is unlawful under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, SC 1996, c 19 (CDSA), but the use of marijuana is legalized for medical purposes under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, SOR/2013-119 (“MMPR”). However, as far back as 2013, Canada’s Liberal Party expressed its intention to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes. After winning the election in 2015, the current federal government has stated that it intends to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes within the next year.  This article discusses the main potential concerns regarding the decision to broaden the legalized use of marijuana.

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