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Author Archive: Jessica Fishbein

Canada Announces Plan To Resettle Yazidi Refugees

Canada's Immigration Minister recently announced the government's plan to resettle Yazidi refugees.

Ever since U.S. President Donald Trump was inaugurated, he has wasted no time cracking down on immigration. His executive order that banned immigrants from Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. received backlash around the world. In a largely unprecedented move, many American federal judges even refused to uphold his order and challenged its constitutionality. Many have looked to Canada to see how it would respond in the face of its neighbour’s strict immigration policies. While Trump’s orders made his popularity plummet, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau consistently lauded Canada’s diversity and inclusivity. Now, a new Liberal policy will turn his words into further action.

Who Are The Yazidis?

The Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen recently announced that approximately 400 survivors of ISIS have already entered Canada. The majority of these survivors are Yazidis from Iraq. These survivors have been coming into the country since the House of Commons unanimously agreed that Canada should take in Yazidi women and girls. Last year, the Conservatives made a motion to provide asylum to Yazidi women fleeing from genocide. The motion stipulated that ISIS is forcing the Yazidi women and girls to be sex slaves, and executing a genocide against their people as a whole. By the end of 2017, the Canadian government is aiming to resettle 1,200 Yazidi refugees. In addition to Yazidi women and children, these refugees will also include their male family members, and additional ISIS survivors.

While many have praised Canada for welcoming refugees fleeing terror, others do acknowledge that welcoming immigrants comes at a cost. News reports have claimed that resettling the Yazidi refugees will cost an estimated $28 million.

Next Steps

The government — and Canadians at large — must ultimately decide how many Yazidis to continue accepting in future. The international community applauded Canada for welcoming Syrian refugees with open arms, but it remains to be seen to what extent the same approach will be taken with the Yazidis. The government has already emphasized one notable difference in how it will resettle the Yazidis in comparison to previous groups. Given the volatile situation in Iraq, the government plans on acting with heightened discretion. As a result, it will minimize public photo opportunities and media coverage of Yazidis for security reasons.

Featured image source: CBC

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With PCLaw, Save Lawyers Time And Improve Your Firm’s Processes

What are qualities of a good lawyer? Of course, a skilled lawyer is astute, perceptive, supremely knowledgeable and thinks well on their feet. But when evaluating a lawyer’s skill set, one quality that’s often overlooked or dismissed entirely is efficiency.

Any lawyer knows that in addition to demanding clients and challenging cases, they also face mountains of paperwork. Indeed, the more cases a lawyer takes on, the more daunting their paperwork becomes. In order for lawyers to succeed, it remains crucial for them to keep all of their paperwork organized, and easy to track at all times. Effective legal management software is the key for a lawyer’s — and entire firm’s — efficiency and reputation in the long-run.

LexisNexis’s PCLaw is the trusted software of lawyers in the country. Used by over 12,000 firms, PCLaw streamlines accounting and billing, effectively forcing lawyers to make their processes more efficient. One of the software’s biggest advantages is its all-in-one nature — it lets you manage tasks you would normally organize separately. For busy lawyers who already put in long hours, the importance of a time-saving, organizational tool cannot be emphasized enough. PCLaw lets you do trust accounting, client management, billing and accounting, track billable hours, capture expenses all in one place. Moreover, with PCLaw, you can generate reports into your firm’s finances, saving valuable time typically spent on billing and accounting. All this time will let lawyers pour more hours into cases at hand, honing their skill set and ultimately bettering your firm.

Even if lawyers aren’t at the office, they often want to get updates with what’s going on at the firm. PCLaw is available remotely and can be connected through mobile devices, giving you access to your firm’s information at all times.

You also don’t need to worry about spending even more time training lawyers how to use PCLaw. PCLaw has a visually-friendly dashboard that presents important details where you need them. There’s no need to search different areas of the software for what you need. Instead, PCLaw immediately lets you access what you need all in one dashboard.

Still not sure if PCLaw is right for your firm? You can book a free demo, which gives you an in-depth tour of the online billing and accounting software.

Featured image source: LexisNexis

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Justin Trudeau Agrees With Minimum Age Of 18 To Buy Marijuana

Justin Trudeau thinks that those 18 and up should be able to buy marijuana legally.

Advocates for marijuana’s legalization have long argued that the drug should be regulated like alcohol. Now, it appears they gained an ally in the country’s Prime Minister.

At a press conference last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he agreed that those allowed to drink legally be permitted to smoke marijuana as well.

Trudeau’s statement comes in response to a recommendation made by a federal task force. In a report on marijuana legalization, the task force recommended that 18 should be the minimum age to buy recreational marijuana. However, 18 does not represent legal drinking age across all provinces. Therefore, the task force also recommended that provinces make its marijuana laws coincide with their legal drinking age.

Of course, the task force’s recommendation earned its fair share of detractors. The Canadian Medical Association argued the minimum age to buy marijuana should be 21. Evidence shows that the brain is still developing until one turns 25, making marijuana usage beforehand potentially unsafe.

Trudeau argued that a minimum age of 18 would still ensure marijuana stays away from children and prevents criminals from reaping its profits. In French, Trudeau stated: “We know the largest misdeeds of marijuana use happens at a lower age than 18, 19 years of age, and I think this is a responsible approach that we have found in terms of balance that is both practical and useful.”

The task force conceded that no universal consensus exists on the minimum age to purchase marijuana.  In addition, according to the task force, increasing the minimum age comes with multiple drawbacks. On one hand, an age set too high makes it likely that people will still buy marijuana illicitly. Moreover, an overly high minimum age makes it likelier that the government will criminally prosecute young people. The highest rates of marijuana usage occur between the 18 to 24 bracket, so an ideal minimum age would factor in that statistic. Going on that logic, then, the report also argued that a minimum age of 25 remains unrealistic. Ultimately, a minimum age that reaches too high would make marijuana users continue to buy the drug illegally.

For more on this story, visit The Huffington Post.

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Dakota Access Pipeline Construction To Be Halted

The thousands of protestors gathered at Standing Rock recently gained cause to celebrate. After months of activism and peaceful protests, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

At this point, construction of the four-state, 1,885 km pipeline is mostly complete. Engineers planned on building the remainder of the pipeline underneath Lake Oahe, which is a Missouri River reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Over the past several months, the $3.8 billion pipeline’s construction attracted much controversy. Many travelled to Standing Rock to protest the pipeline’s construction, amidst media reports of increasing tensions between protestors and police.

Critics considered the construction of the pipeline to threaten drinking water and infringe on sacred Native lands. Located north of Cannonball River, Oceti Sakowin Camp represents the largest sacred site that protestors argued would be harmed by the pipeline.

The Assistant Secretary for Civil Works said that the need to “explore alternate routes” for the pipeline ultimately halted its construction. Many consider this a hugely optimistic sign that persistent peaceful protests can be effective. Moreover, critics of the pipeline applaud the decision for respecting Indigenous land.

But for many protestors, the fight remains ongoing. While this decision certainly marks a victory for protestors, the fate of the pipeline ultimately remains to be seen. Many protestors — who consider themselves to be water protectors — remain nervous about Trump’s plan when he takes office. During the presidential election campaign, President-Elect Donald Trump voiced his support for the pipeline. It remains unclear whether he can — or will — choose to resume construction during his presidency.

After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer announced that the pipeline’s construction would be stopped, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe released a statement of their own, thanking protestors and applauding Obama’s administration. Of course, the decision to halt construction has not been met with universal acclaim. Unsurprisingly, Energy Transfer Partners — the company behind the construction of the pipeline — as well as North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer and Paul Ryan have all slammed the decision.

For more on this story, visit the CBC. Featured image source: The Huffington Post.

 

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New Anti-Smoking Legislation Rolled Out In Quebec

Many Canadians probably think that by 2016, the country has already seen the last of its anti-smoking legislation. Indeed, we’re long past the time where it was actually legal for people to smoke indoors inside public places, or even light up a cigarette while travelling on a train or airplane. Most media and movies no longer portray smoking as a romantic, cool pastime — for the most part, the government’s advertising has effectively re-framed it as a health hazard and public nuisance. That’s why it might be surprising to hear that one province is still working to pass laws aimed to stop people from smoking. In Quebec, an anti-smoking law recently came into effect last week, which requires smokers to stand a total of nine metres away from the opening of any establishment.

The “opening” refers to not only doors, but any other window or air intake — for both public buildings and private residences.

You might not see this to be a huge deal, but it will undoubtedly effect how crowds gather outside public places to take a “smoke break.” You often see small clusters of people smoking outside bars and restaurants, or outside a venue during an event. But smoke breaks aren’t limited to just the nighttime — walk anywhere downtown or clustered with office buildings, and you’re sure to come across people taking smoke breaks during their workday as well.

This new law will make it much more inconvenient for people to run outside for a quick cigarette. In fact, since most areas of the city are quite built-up, it severely limits where people can legally smoke outside at all.

The Tobacco Control Act was initially passed in November of last year to stop people from smoking in Quebec. In passing the law, the government’s goal was twofold: to stop young people in the province from deciding to start smoking, and to shield non-smokers for second-second smoke. Since the updated law makes it much more difficult to smoke outside, the hope is that smokers could be encouraged to quit — even if out of sheer frustration.

Since the initial Act was passed, Quebec has seen different restrictions in how cigarettes can be sold and marketed in the province, but nothing that stipulated where smokers could and couldn’t smoke.

But now, if a restaurant or bar doesn’t adhere to the newest regulations, they could see some hefty fines. If a business repeatedly has customers smoking on its terraces or patios, it could be fined $100,000.

Only time will tell how restaurant and bar owners respond to this law, and whether or not these restrictions will ultimately create any real decrease in smoking in the province.

For more on this story, visit CBC. Featured image source: Global News

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Judge Orders Child Not To Wear Girls’ Clothes In Public

A recent ruling in Alberta is raising questions about whether a judge should be able to exert control over a child’s clothing.

Last December, a judge in Medicine Hat, Alberta, ruled that a four-year old child is only permitted wear “masculine” clothing in public. The ruling, which was passed down family court, came amidst a custody battle between the child’s parents and goes against the wishes of the child’s primary caregiver.

The child, who was born biologically male, is now five years old — and began claiming years ago that they were female. The child began introducing themselves as a girl, and would routinely respond with anger when called a boy by their mother. Things escalated even further when the child threatened to cut off their own genitals.

That was the final straw for the child’s mother, who then decided that she would enlist the help of professionals and take her child’s claims more seriously. She began to refer to her child as a girl, which elicited much appreciation.

After the mother told the father — from whom she is separated — about these developments, he filed for primary custody of their child. He also credited the mother as the source of their child’s gender “confusion.”

Last winter, the child’s parents took up their custody dispute in Medicine Hat family court. It was there that Judge Derek Redman ruled that the mother could remain the primary caregiver, but the child was not allowed to wear blatantly feminine clothes while in public.

A few months later, the case was taken up by another judge. Judge Fred Fisher reaffirmed the clothing stipulation, but this time, gave primary custody to the child’s father.

Last month, a third judge — Judge Gordon Krinke — solicited the input of a parenting expert. He accordingly modified the clothing restriction and stipulated that the mother and father must provide their child with clothing for both genders. The child can then pick what clothing they feel is best.

Transgender activists have spoken out against these rulings, noting that the courts cannot decide what clothing a child wears — doing so contradicts the province’s Bill of Rights. In addition, boys who aren’t transgender are still legally permitted to wear dresses, which makes this ruling unfair.

For more on this story, visit the CBC.

Featured image source: Manitoba Courts

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Canadian MP Creating Federal Disability Legislation

We like to think that we live in an accessible culture, but the reality is that many busy public places are still not inclusive to all Canadians— and many people with disabilities in particular still struggle to see their rights recognized.

Carla Qualtrough is a human rights lawyer who is legally blind herself. An accomplished athlete — she’s a former Paralympian and world championship swimming medalist — she has also been put in charge of creating Canada’s first accessibility legislation.

Online consultations for this new law opened last month and will last until February 2017. Since the consultations have started, there have already been over 700 submissions sent in.

Next spring, Carla is set to report on the consultations that the government has received. Her aim is to have her legislation prepared to read in the Commons between the end of next year to the beginning of 2018.

Carla is an MP from Delta, B.C, and says that the fact that Trudeau gave her this cabinet position demonstrates that the rights of people with disabilities must be recognized in all of the cabinet’s decisions. According to Carla, while the country’s current laws may allow for people with disabilities t0 defend their rights, it does not do enough to sufficiently protect them in the first place. She says that it’s high time that the creativity that people with disabilities are forced to use every day to navigate the world around is recognized by the government.

However, some individual provinces have already set up legislation that recognizes the rights of people with disabilities. In 2005, The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was introduced with the objective of transforming Ontario into a fully accessible province in twenty years — by 2025.

Carla says she will study how other provinces and countries define accessibility in their laws, and that many of Ontario’s own regulations will be a model for Canada’s federal laws. One of her primary objectives is to create a universal, common definition for what a disability is. Once created, this definition would apply to all of the federal laws that would be created, and be recognized by provinces as well.

For more on this story, visit The Toronto Star.

Featured image source: CBC

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BC to Tax Non-Canadian Home Buyers in Vancouver

Anyone who’s looked into the housing market in Canada knows that prices — even average prices — of homes can be simply exorbitant. And the region in Canada where housing prices are quite often the most expensive? None other than beautiful British Columbia, particularly Vancouver.

Now, it looks like the B.C. government has a plan to help address how costly — and competitive — their housing market has become.

Many have speculated that there are increasing numbers of people from outside Canada who are buying homes in the country. As a result, the B.C. government announced that it will be taxing non-Canadians who buy residential property in Vancouver. This news comes after house prices in the region increased by 30 per cent in the last year.

The 15 per cent tax will come into effect starting August 2. According to the Finance Minister Mike de Jong, this tax applies to the purchase of any residential property that is located in Metro Vancouver. However, excluded from this tax will be any treaty lands for the Tsawwassen First Nation.

Those effected by the tax are buyers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. If a corporation wants to buy residential property in the outlined area, they must be registered in Canada or controlled by Canadian citizens, or else the tax will apply to them as well.

But are there actually many foreigners, or people who aren’t permanent residents, who are buying homes in the Vancouver area — or is this simply an overblown fear? According to the B.C. Finance Ministry, in Richmond, over 16% of transactions registered June 10-29 were with buyers who were not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. In the city of Vancouver itself, the figure declined to 4%, while Victoria — the province’s capital —saw just over 2%.

Minister Mike de Jong broke down an example of how much this tax might work out to be: on a $2 million dollar home, the tax would come to $300, 000. He also said that while the tax right now remains at 15%, the law gives the provincial government the power to adjust the rate, to anything between 10 and 20 per cent.

According to the British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, the law stems from the province’s goal to make home ownership within the grasp of the middle class.

Do you think this new tax is a good idea and will ultimately help reduce house prices? Sound off in the comments below.

 For more on this story, visit The Globe and Mail

Featured image source: Van City Buzz

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When and How Brexit Begins – Remains Up For Debate

If you’ve turned on the TV, read a newspaper or checked social media, you’ve likely heard the historic news about Brexit — Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Britain has been a part of the EU for forty-three years, alongside twenty-eight other countries on the continent. Last week, 52 per cent of British citizens voted to leave the EU, while 48 voted to stay.

After the results of the referendum were made public, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation in tears. Economists around the world have predicted that this decision could unleash dire economic consequences for British citizens — indeed, the British pound has already dropped to the lowest it has been in over twenty years.

Even if others are more optimistic about the country’s future, there is one outcome of the decision that remains clear to everyone: for better or for worse, Brexit will undoubtedly reshape the nation’s place in the world for years to come.

But the logistics of Brexit remain a murky, grey area to navigate, especially given the lack of historical precedent for this decision — no country has ever left the EU before. When Cameron resigned, he said his successor should be responsible for dealing with the logistics of Brexit — an undoubtedly difficult job for whoever takes on his role come October 2016.

Despite the outcome of the referendum, for the time being, Britain remains a member of the EU. So when exactly would Britain cut ties with the EU, and is this truly a final decision?

This weekend, the foreign ministers of Luxembourg, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands met in Berlin to presumably discuss the next steps of this process. Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty stipulates that there is a two-year exit period in which the U.K. is able to renegotiate trade dealings and other matters with the rest of the EU. But when — and how — this process should officially begin remains up for debate. Some leaders have suggested that the exit could be initiated simply through a formal statement made by Cameron at the European Council, while others are adamant that a formal letter to the EU’s president is required instead.

While some have accepted that the people have spoken, others are frantic to stall the process in any way they can, whether it be through protests or calls for new referendums to appeal this decision.

For more on this story, visit CBC.

Featured image source: The Guardian.

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Not Criminally Responsible Verdict Reached for Matthew de Grood

It’s not often that a judge finds a defendant not criminally responsible. It’s tough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was mentally incapacitated at the time of the crime, and a particularly difficult verdict to deliver in the face of grieving families who are looking to see justice done. But that’s just what happened in the case of Matthew de Grood, the 24-year-old from Calgary who stabbed five people to death at a house party in 2014.

Two years ago, young Calgarians celebrated the end of the semester at what was supposed to be a typical university party, only to watch the unthinkable unfold. Upon his arrival, de Grood grabbed a knife from the kitchen and killed young party attendees Kaitlin Perras, 23; Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Seguara, 22 in what appeared to be a random stabbing rampage.

While de Grood confessed that he killed these five people at the party, Justice Eric Macklin of Court of Queen’s Bench said he believed de Grood was suffering from a mental disorder at the time — making him not criminally responsible for their deaths. Macklin said he accepted the testimony from psychiatric experts, who found that de Grood did not appreciate that what he did was morally wrong.

In his closing arguments, de Grood’s defence lawyers said that Matthew believed he was protecting himself from vampires and werewolves. Before he stabbed the victims, de Grood reported that he heard voices instructing him to kill.

Throughout the trial, testimony painted a picture of de Grood becoming more and more withdrawn before the killings. During this time, he was also increasingly posting on Facebook about a number of bizarre, disturbing topics, including religion, vampires, Darth Vader and the apocalypse.

So what’s next? With this ruling, de Grood will now go to a secure psychiatric facility — much to the disappointment of the victim’s families.

Outside the courthouse, Miles Hong spoke on behalf of families, saying that they’ll continue to be broken as they wonder what consequences will befall the man that ended their loved ones’ lives.

This tragic case reflects a reoccurring moral issue in the Canadian legal system: how to handle crimes committed by the mentally ill, while delivering justice to victim’s families.

For more on this story, visit The Globe and Mail.

Featured image source: Canadian Press

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