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Category Archive: Laws

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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You Could Soon E-File Divorce Papers

divorce papers

According to Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, the province’s justice system needs to become more tech-friendly. During an event last week at the Law Society of Upper Canada, he stated that the province is seriously considering the possibility of e-filing divorce papers.

Naqvi said that a lot of services will soon be available online, and e-filing is a very important first step. It began with an interest in seeing what could be done with family law. The feedback was that people should be able to file divorce papers online.

The province of Ontario has recently introduced a lot more digitization in their systems, particularly in Small Claims Court. A lot of lawyers are happy about these changes, as this kind of progression could make their work a lot more streamlined. Anything that cuts back on paperwork and increases efficiency is seen as a step in the right direction.

However, there are two possible problems with the plan to digitize the filing of divorce papers. According to the Family Law Act, the equalization of net family property could be impeded. A person has up to six years from the date of separation, or two years following a divorce to seek that equalization.

Someone involved in a divorce might not realize that e-filing for a divorce or receiving e-filed divorce papers means that the process to move towards the equalization of net family property has begun. A lot of insurance companies also won’t extend health care benefits to a person who is no longer the spouse of a beneficiary. E-filing for divorce, or receiving e-filed divorce papers could mean you or your spouse will get automatically cut off from extended health care benefits.

Even so, it seems that the possibility of e-filing divorce papers, or any digitization of processes, is a welcome change within the legal community. It will make everything more efficient and ultimately result in cost savings for the people going through these processes.

Adopting technologically-advanced processes will help Ontario adopt the fastest, cheapest and most modern way of communicating, which is the cornerstone of any lawyer-client relationship.

Article source: canadianlawyermag.com

Featured image source: huffpost.com

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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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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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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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Does Ontario Need Harsher Tenant Laws For Renters?

If you’re sneaky about it, you could go months without having to pay rent in Ontario. How does one achieve this magical luxury that is free rent?

Well, it isn’t exactly the path most upstanding citizens would take, but it’s definitely effective. Simply exploit some legal-loopholes and you can escape rent payments to a landlord for weeks on end, and some tenants are doing just that.

Case in point: James Regan, a Toronto man in his early sixties who has continuously evaded rent payments to his understandably-angered landlords. This time around, Regan refuses to pay rent because of a broken air conditioner and parking space access.

Robin Ennis is the unlucky landlord currently dealing with Regan, reports the CBC, has already tried to evict Regan from his unit. But given the current structure of Ontario tenant-laws, an eviction is a very slow process when dealing with a wily tenant.

Regan, you see, is quite aware that any eviction ordered by Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) can be sent for an appeal to the Ontario Supreme Court. All tenants are entirely allowed to make an appeal, only for the cost of $180.

The loophole is that the appeal process can take months, a period of time where the tenant is legally entitled to stay in the residence owned by the landlord, and in this case, withhold rent, too.

Regan is employing this technique with Ennis right now, and he did the exact same thing in his last apartment. Signing up for a unit at $3,200/month, Regan refused to pay rent, and when an eviction notice came, Regan appealed to the Supreme Court and didn’t have to leave the apartment for eight months after that.

While Regan is completely to blame for his past and current landlord’s frustration and anger, Harry Fine, who was once an adjudicator for the LTB, believes Ontario’s rules on rentals is the core problem.

Fine told the CBC that the province’s Residential Tenancies Act is completely “unbalanced,” as tenants are far better protected than landlords. And in the case of James Regan, perhaps tenants are protected a little too well.

Fine also believes some sort of screening process or stricter control over who has the ability to file an appeal after an eviction notice may ameliorate the issue.

Any changes to Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act will have to wait a while, though, as the provincial government will only discuss any potential changes this coming fall. Any proposed changes will come out of a series of consultations organized by the provincial government in regards to tenant-landlord laws.

Featured image courtesy of: Charleston’s TheDigitel

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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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10 Of The Weirdest Canadian Laws

Our country is a great one, but just because we’re relatively young, it doesn’t mean we’re immune to some pretty strange laws. So whether you live here or you’re just visiting, it’s important to know the random laws you might be breaking. Here are 10 reminders why you should always never be too far from a professional who knows their way around the law, or at least knows how to research it, before you do something even remotely questionable.

1. In Halifax: No wearing a t-shirt if you’re a taxi driver
According to the Nova Scotia capital’s legislation, it is illegal for taxi drivers to wear shirts without collars or sleeves, as well as shorts or “ankle-length” pants.

2. In Fredericton: No carrying around your pet snake or lizard
In New Brunswick’s capital, you can’t bring your snake or any other reptile out into the street with you or into any public place, unless its in a cage or some kind of container that will confine it.

3. In Alberta: No painting wooden ladders
Province-wide, you just straight-up aren’t allowed to paint a wooden ladder. No ifs or buts about it.

4. In Alberta: No pet rats
Province-wide, you aren’t allowed to buy, own or sell a rat without a very specific permit.

5. In Sudbury: No sirens on your bike
In this Ontario town, the only noise-making device you’re allowed to have on your bike is a bell or horn, because a siren or any other artificial noise maker is considered unusual noise.

6. In Toronto: No swearing in public parks
In any park in Ontario’s capital, it is illegal to use any kind of profane language, be boisterous, be violent or threatening, or use abusive language.

7. In Windsor: No jamming in public spaces
A bylaw in this southern Ontario town states that you’re not allowed to make a racket with an instrument in parks or offices.

8. In Ontario: No keeping your horse if you don’t pay your hotel bill
Province-wide, if you run out on your hotel bill, the establishment can seize your horse, sell it, and keep the profits.

9. In Oshawa: No climbing trees
This one seems to be about protecting the Ontario town’s trees, which means you can’t attach anything to them, including yourself.

10. In Hay River: No dog sleds on the sidewalk
This town in the Northwest Territories allows you to have your dog on a leash on the sidewalk, but doesn’t allow a pack of dogs attached to a sled to run on the sidewalk.

Which one of these laws shocked you the most? Sound off in the comments below!

Article source: buzzfeed.com

Image source: mailermailer.com

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