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Author Archive: Ashley Maniw

Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Illegal According to Experts

Donald Trump signed executive orders barring immigration and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries on Friday. Protests have erupted throughout the world. Policy experts are also protesting the ban, stating that it’s actually illegal.

Why Is the Ban Illegal?

In an op-ed for the New York Times, David J. Bier from the Cato Institute’s Center for the Global Liberty and Prosperity called the ban illegal. He cited the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 as the reason. This act “forbids all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin”.

Trump’s order bans Syrian refugees indefinitely until “significant changes” are made and also temporarily blocks visitors from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. The reason? The order states that these countries are of “particular concern”.

Trump has been using a law from 1952 to support the order. But Bier states that “the president ignores the fact that Congress then restricted this power in 1965, stating plainly that no person could be ‘discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.’” This 1965 law was also designed to “give Americans the freedom to sponsor family members or marry a foreign-born spouse”.

Bier also questions whether Trump can rewrite immigration laws without Congress. He writes: an appeals court stopped President Barack Obama’s executive actions to spare millions of undocumented immigrants from deportations for the similar reason that he was circumventing Congress. Some discretion? Sure. Discretion to rewrite the law? Not in America’s constitutional system.”

Other Concerns About the Muslim Ban

There are a number of other experts who are also speaking out against Trump’s Muslim ban. United Nations right’s chief, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, recently stated “Discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law”.

Other organizations are also speaking out. The Paris-based medical aid agency, Médecins Sans Frontières, is also against the ban. The organization said that the Muslim ban “will effectively keep people trapped in war zones, directly endangering their lives”. The organization Doctors Without Borders is also speaking out. They called the Muslim ban “an inhumane act against people fleeing war zones” and called on the US government to lift the order.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation also issued a statement saying that “such selective and discriminatory acts will only serve to embolden the radical narratives of extremists and will provide further fuel to the advocates of violence and terrorism”.

Only a couple of days in, Trump’s time as President is off to a very rocky and troubling start.

Story sources: The Independent here and here

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B.C. Health Minister Wants To Raise Legal Smoking Age

Terry Lake, the British Columbia health minister, is looking to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

Each province and territory in Canada sets the age limits for smoking. In B.C. and five other provinces, the smoking age limit is 19; the rest of the provinces have set the smoking limit at 18. Lake is “an ardent anti-smoker”. He believes that the later someone is able to legally purchase cigarettes, the better the odds that they won’t develop a smoking habit.

What the Opposition Says

Other politicians in British Columbia back Lake’s campaign to raise the legal smoking age. Opposition New Democrat Leader John Horgan stated “as a reformed smoker, I want to discourage smoking whenever possible. I don’t want to give policy pronouncements on the fly, but if we can reduce smoking in B.C., I encourage that.”

Will Raising the Legal Smoking Age Affect Smoking Rates?

Lake admitted that this campaign is personal to him. “I’ve seen in my family, my mom die, my dad suffer with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Lake said. “I’ve seen my siblings struggle with addiction to nicotine.” He isn’t running again in the May election, but he “wanted to start the conversation so future governments may consider that.”

He has noted that other jurisdictions have raised the legal smoking age and found it reduced smoking rates among students. Lake has also said that Hawaii and California have raised their legal smoking age to 21 as well. However, he did not provide United States data on smoking rates since the increase was implemented.

In a statement released on Thursday, the ministry said “tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease and death in British Columbia and one of our primary goals is to stop youth from starting to use tobacco products. We have made great progress in reducing tobacco prevalence in the province, and we continue to have the lowest smoking rate in Canada, at approximately 15.3 per cent”.

To learn more about this story, visit the CTV news website.

Story source: CTV News

Featured image source: Cigarettes Reporter

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Obama Meets With Democrats to Save Obamacare

President Obama is meeting with Democrats today to protect his healthcare law from Republican opposition. Senate Republicans are already taking steps to repeal Obamacare. As per NPR, on January 3 Republicans introduced a budget resolution that would basically let them undo the Affordable Care Act with a “simple majority vote”.

Democrats want to defend the law, as it has given health care insurance to 20 million Americans. Repealing it would effectively strip them of their health protection. Plus, Republicans haven’t figured out how to replace Obamacare yet.

The Opposition

Obama’s administration has criticized this “repeal now and replace later” strategy. Whitehouse spokesman Josh Earnest calls it a “bait and switch”. The American Medical Association (AMA) is also against the move to repeal Obamacare. In an open letter directed at lawmakers, the association acknowledged that Obamacare isn’t perfect. However, the letter also stated that “any effort to cut costs or increase choice should as least preserve the existing level of coverage”. AMA CEO James L. Madara stated that “before any action is taken through reconciliation or other means that would potentially alter coverage, policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies”.

What is Reconciliation?

Reconciliation is a procedural tactic that would allow Senate Republicans to change parts of the Affordable Care Act without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

Support for the Measure

President Obama, Democrats, and the AMA aren’t the only ones who are against changing Obamacare. There are some Republican senators who are wary about taking away healthcare from people without a new health care plan in place.

However, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and President-elect Donald Trump remain committed to the measure. Ryan called the budget resolution “the first step towards relief for Americans struggling under Obamacare”. In a tweet, the President-elect stated that “People must remember Obamacare just doesn’t work, and it is not affordable”.

Trump pointed to increased premiums from the government-run exchange in Arizona to support his statement that it’s not affordable. However, government subsidies help negate some or all of those increases. The Obama administration also says that customers have been signing up for the exchange at a record rate.

To learn more about this story, visit NPR.com.

Story source: NPR

Featured image source: Wikipedia

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Edmonton Inmates Sue Attorney General Over Solitary Confinement

A former Edmonton inmate, Matthew Hamm, successfully sued against his six-week solitary confinement. Since the court ruled in favour of Hamm on August 8, Hamm has been outspoken on his treatment while in prison, reports the CBC. He and two other inmates are also suing the Attorney General of Canada for $5.6 million over their treatment in solitary.

Hamm was completing his five-and a-half-year sentence when he was placed in solitary confinement on June 28. Also known as “the hole”, solitary is an indefinite placement that doesn’t require an initial hearing to justify its use. Hamm and five other inmates were initially told they’d be moved to their own unit, but were placed in solitary. Court documents state that the group was moved because they planned to harm correction officers. Hamm contested the claim and filed a habeas corpus.

A habeus corpus is a way to report unlawful detention or imprisonment. Hamm claims that the correction officers retaliated against him. However, he was able to use his time in solitary to work on his habeus corpus.

By the time Hamm won and was released back into the general prison population, he had served 43 days in solitary. Under the Correction and Conditional Release Act, inmates are only permitted to spend 30 days in solitary.

The Current Lawsuit

The men claim that solitary was “cruel and unusual punishment”. The state of solitary was “grossly disproportionate and failed to comply with principles of fundamental justice”. Correctional Service Canada states that inmates in solitary receive daily health care visits, inspections, visits by the warden, and access to visitors and support. Hamm said that this was not his experience at all. As per the CBC, Hamm states that the lawsuit “is his way of speaking up for those in similar situations who may not be able to do so for themselves”.

Read more about this case on the CBC news website.

Story source: CBC

Featured image source: Right on Crime

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Protect Your Firm Against Personal Legal Action With LexisNexis

According to a global report issued by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS), new risks put corporate leaders at higher risk of experiencing investigations, fines, or persecution over alleged wrongdoings. D&O Insurance Insights: Management Liability Today found that there’s a “growing trend toward seeking punitive and personal legal action against executives for failure to follow regulations and standard, which could result in costly investigations, criminal prosecutions or civil litigation.”

AGCS stated that these new risks include cyber incidents, data privacy, rising regulator and shareholder activism, and the influence of third-party litigation funders. One of the main findings from the report was that the top cause of Directors and Officers’ (D&O) loss is non-compliance with laws and regulations. The average claim for breach of trust and care came to more than US$1 million, globally. However, D&O claims can be valued much higher, as in the hundred of millions of dollars higher, when the time it takes to resolve claims is taken into account.

For Canada, the report states that “regulatory aggression continues to feature heavily in the landscape for directors. The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) is becoming more demanding in its investigations, as is the Alberta Securities Commission.”

With these new risks, it’s imperative that businesses have the resources they need to ensure they’re complying with the law. LexisNexis can help. With the Lexis Advance Quick Law program, LexisNexis can provide organizations with legal information and insight from commentary to legislation, case law, and tribunal decisions.

For legal firms in particular, LexisNexis also has legal management software call LexisNexis PCLaw that can help law firms get a full view of their practice. This program gives legal firms control over trust accounting, client management, case and matter management, and also provides resources to track billable hours, capture expenses, and manage billing and accounting. With PCLaw, you can keep your trust accounts compliant, gain insight into your law firm’s finances, and reduce the time you spend on accounting.

Visit the LexisNexis website to learn more about their programs. To learn more about the AGCS report findings, click here.

Story source: Canadian Underwriter, LexisNexis

Featured image source: University of Utah

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Trinity Western University Wins Legal Fight To Open Law School

Trinity Western University, an evangelical Christian university based in British Columbia, won a legal victory that puts them one step closer to opening a law school.

The Appeal Court of B.C. released a unanimous decision in favour of the university on Tuesday, November 1. The court stated that the British Columbia law society’s efforts to deny accreditation to Trinity Western law graduates is “unreasonable”. All 5 judges on the appeal panel stated that the negative impact on the university’s religious freedoms would be severe and outweigh the “minimal effect” accreditation would have on LGBTQ rights.

The legal dispute started over Trinity Western University’s code of conduct that bans students from having sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage. The Law Society argued that this rule discriminates against gays and lesbians who want to enter the legal profession. However, the Appeal Court found that denying approval to the university would not enhance access to law school for members of the LGBTQ community and that creating 60 new law school seats would divert some law school hopefuls from other programs, therefore increasing the number of seats available to LGBTQ applicants overall.

The judgment officially states that “a society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society – one in which its citizens are free to think, to disagree, to debate and to challenge the accepted view without fear of reprisal.” It also stated that the case overall “demonstrates that a well-intentioned majority acting in the name of tolerance and liberalism can, if unchecked, impose its views on the minority in a manner that is in itself intolerant and illiberal.”

B.C. Law Society spokeswoman Vinnie Yueng said in a written statement that Appeal Court decision “added another dimension to an already complex issue”. She also said that the society would review the ruling before considering next steps.

This isn’t the first time that Trinity Western University has faced push back on its “push for recognition” in the legal community. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal denied the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society’s efforts to prevent the law school’s graduates from receiving accreditation. However, Ontario’s Appeal court upheld the ruling against Trinity Western, denying recognition to the university’s future law graduates.

Read more about this case on the CTV News website.

Story and featured image source: CTV News

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Numerous Nations Call For End To Legal Ivory Trade

A number of nations, at a conference held by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), are agreeing to end the legal ivory trade worldwide. There are nations on both sides of the debate, however, a number of countries are supporting an all out ban.

While the agreement isn’t legally binding, Time states that the agreement is the “first time in history member states have agreed to end, rather than regulate, domestic ivory sales”. CITES also announced that, for the first time, destroying seized ivory stockpiles was a viable option; 22 countries are already taking action on that mandate.

One elephant killed every 15 minutes. According to the Guardian, more than 140,000 Savannah elephants were poached for ivory between 2007 and 2014. While there is a total ban on trading ivory internationally, some countries permit some ivory items (such as antiques) to be bought and sold domestically.

Not all member states support enforcing stricter measures on the ivory trade. In June, Zimbabwe announced it would lobby to lift the international ban of ivory sales during the same CITES conferences referenced here. In July, the European Union issued a paper against a complete ban on the domestic ivory trade; instead, they advocated for countries with growing elephant populations to “sustainably manage” said populations.

However, on October 3, Botswana – the country with the largest elephant population – also decided to support the total ban on ivory trading. As stated by National Geographic, Botswana, as well as Namibia and Zimbabwe, have been allowed to sell their stockpile of ivory to other countries in recent years. However, these sales also increased elephant poaching across Africa dramatically, according to a recent study.

According to Robert Hepworth, a former CITES official and current advisor for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Botswana’s announcement “may attract enough votes to get this crucial decision made”.

To learn more about this story, visit National Geographic or Time.

Story source: National Geographic, Time

Featured image source: National Geographic

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Public Employee In Legal Mess: Phoenix Payroll Problem

Darrel Delisle, a former contract worker for Global Affairs Canada, is stuck in a legal mess after suing the federal government over the Phoenix payroll problems.

A new computerized payroll system called Phoenix was introduced in Ottawa. It was discovered this year that, following glitches in the system, the two largest unions representing federal public servants were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in union dues that were not properly collected. Since February of this year, more than 80,000 workers have had issues when it comes to being paid. Some are being paid too much, too little or not at all.

Delisle, the first person to sue the federal government regarding the Phoenix payroll problems, filed a lawsuit after struggling to get paid for three months while Phoenix was rolled out. Before filing the lawsuit, Delisle tried a number of different methods to get paid. This included calling the pay centre 635 times, sending emails, and by setting up meetings with superiors. He even tried filing a labour complaint, but it was rejected. He ultimately left Global Affairs in June. On July 14, he filed his lawsuit in small claims court seeking $24,000 “for the payment of wages, personal hardship experience and extreme inconvenience caused by this unacceptable administrative process imposed by the employer”.

However, in their defence statement, Global Affairs claims that Delisle was only owed $12,599 but was paid a lump sum of $26,707 on July 27. Global Affairs is now claiming that Delisle owes the government $14,692.

In an article by the CBC on the case, lawyer Sean McGee states that the way the government is handling this case could discourage other vulnerable workers from taking legal action. According the McGee, the government’s position on this lawsuit “sends the signal that people aren’t going to be able to take advantage of their rights”. He also stated the government’s response to the Phoenix payroll problem lawsuit could cause people in similar situations to question if they would even be able to work again after a public legal battle.

To learn more, visit the CBC News website.

Story source: CBC News

Featured image source: Career Builder

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Canadian Doctors Conflicted On Legal Age For Marijuana Use

The debate about whether or not marijuana should be legalized in Canada continues on. The latest piece is determining what the minimum age should be for purchasing weed. How young is too young?

The Canadian medical association conducted a survey of 788 doctors to explore week usage in the country in anticipation of the federal government legalizing marijuana. According to the study, Canadian doctors are divided when it comes to determining what the legal weed-using age should be. 35 per cent were in favour of 18 or 19 being the minimum legal age, 45 per cent of participants favoured 21, while a fifth of those surveyed stated the minimum age should be 25. However, the key take away from this survey was that 87 percent of doctors think that there needs to be more medical research into the potential health risks of marijuana.Critics of legalizing marijuana are concerned about the potential risks smoking weed can have on young developing brains. Which, presumably, is why one fifth of respondents want the legal age to be 25.

An article in The Globe and Mail further highlights the differences in opinion many doctors have over marijuana. Chris Milburn, a physician from Sydney, Nova Scotia, thinks that doctors are too complacent about marijuana use by their patients. However, Ashley Miller of St. John’s stated that she’s not so sure that weed is as harmful as other recreational drugs such as alcohol. She also stated that “the role of physicians is to give patients the best information possible to reduce harm”, and pleaded with the CMA to provide practical evidence that will aid in daily practice.

Even though the Liberal federal government wants to legalize marijuana, it’s becoming clear that there are a number of different factors that need to be addressed before it becomes totally legalized. Take a look at this article from The Globe and Mail to learn more about the divide in opinion on the subject.

Featured image source: Next Avenue

Story source: The Globe and Mail, Vice

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Is It Time To Change Canada’s HIV Disclosure Law?

The HIV disclosure law in Canada requires people with HIV to disclose their status to partners before engaging in sexual activity. If they don’t, they can be charged with aggravated sexual assault even if the virus isn’t transmitted. If convicted, they are automatically added to the sex-offenders registry and can face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Two men were arrested and accused earlier this August of failing to disclose their HIV status to their partners. These new cases have led advocates to argue against the legislation. They argue that there’s no proof to show that this law actually deters unsafe sexual activity, that it only contributes to the fear and stigma surrounding the disease, and that it makes HIV patients feel more isolated and fearful.

Sandra Chu, a member of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, also states that “people living with HIV tend to come from many marginalized groups already. (The law is) adding a further layer of marginalization and fear.”

In place of the current HIV disclosure law, Chu recommends that Canada adopt HIV legislation proposed by the United Nations. This legislation prosecutes “only people who knowingly and intentionally transmit the virus to their partner”.

UNAIDS stated in a 2012 report that there’s a lack of definite evidence as to whether criminalization deters HIV patients from exposing others. It also states that studies from Canada and the Unites States show that few people with HIV are aware of the legal requirements that come with their illness. The report adds that those that are aware probably already disclose their status to their partners.

UNAIDS also reports that Canada has convicted more people in connection with HIV non-disclosure, exposure, and transmission than any country in the world except the Unites States. According to the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, there have been at least 180 HIV non-disclosure-related offences in Canada with 5 new cases in 2015. However, the Public Health Agency of Canada states that people with HIV/AIDS report increased feelings of fear and stigma as a result of these high-profile non-disclosure criminal cases.

To learn more about the cases and what advocates are saying regarding the law in Canada, check out the Toronto Star.

Featured image source: The Mix

Featured story source: Toronto Star

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