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Category Archive: Laws

Quicklaw Full Service Shows Canada’s Evolution on Assisted Dying

Nearly two decades after Sue Rodriguez first appealed to the Supreme Court to help end her life, it looks like Canada’s legal landscape is on the verge of drastically changing with respect to its assisted dying laws. But just how drastic the new laws would be is up for debate.

While the Liberal’s new bill would allow for physician-assisted dying in Canada, it contains a set of specific criteria that must be met for those turning to doctors to help end their lives.

The proposed legislated, which was tabled in Parliament last week, would only pertain to adults over 18 years of age, who are mentally competent and suffer from a serious and incurable illness. These adults must be experiencing intolerable suffering as a result of “an advanced state of irreversible decline in capacity.”

Crucially, only those whose “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable” would fall under the bill’s set of criteria — yet the bill does not specify or propose any timeline that would constitute as “reasonably foreseeable.”

But that’s not all: the bill stipulates that a person must-go-through a 15-day period of reflection and consent before they can end their life. Two witnesses with no financial interest to the patient, as well as two doctors or nurses would also be required to evaluate the patient’s request.

Many physicians applaud the bill for approaching assisted dying with caution and including measures that help protect the vulnerable, while some are criticizing the bill for not going far enough. Needless to say, it is clear that years from now, lawyers will look back on this moment as a major breakthrough for right-to-die advocates.

Lexis Nexis Quicklaw Full Service provides lawyers with the tools they need to engage in comprehensive legal research. Quicklaw Full Service allows for lawyers to study past court decisions, legislation, a wide range of primary and secondary materials, and much more. Lawyers can see for themselves just how much the country’s legal landscape has changed: with full-text court and tribunal decisions dating back nearly two centuries, Quicklaw users can study what cases in particular provided Canadians with new legal rights, and helped shift the way we think about moral and legal issues. In addition, Quicklaw offers a breadth of commentary and legal analysis on recent cases in the news, so lawyers can see how, for example, the vague wording in the Liberal’s assisted dying bill can lead to legal loopholes.

For more on the Liberals’ assisted-dying bill, visit The Globe and Mail.

Featured image source: LexisNexis

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First woman allowed to die with doctors help outside Quebec

Last week, a Calgary woman with a terminal illness ended her life in Vancouver, BC with the help of two doctors.

In Canada, it is still illegal for a doctor to help a patient end their life, but two recent Supreme Court rulings allow certain exemptions to be made. Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Sheilah Martin had granted the woman a legal exemption for doctor-assisted death, and as of right now, it is believed she is the first person in Canada — outside of Quebec — who has turned to a physician to legally end her life. Unlike the rest of Canada, Quebec has its own assisted-dying laws, which came into effect in December.

The woman, who is referred to in legal documents as Ms. S, suffered from ALS and was described as being in constant pain. Almost entirely paralyzed, she had been told that her disease gave her around six months to live.

The judge ruled that she met the criteria that constitute an exemption, as she suffers from a medical condition that causes “intolerable suffering” and “can’t be alleviated.” In addition, the judge found Ms. S to be a “competent adult” that clearly “consents to the termination of life.”

In years to come, when more rulings are passed on assisted dying and the country’s legal landscape continues to change , many lawyers will undoubtedly want to look back on early cases — particularly of the first person to be allowed an exemption and die legally with the assistance of the doctor.

LexisNexis Quicklaw Full Service gives lawyers the tools they need to conduct comprehensive legal research, and view past court decisions such as that of Ms. S. With this professional and complete legal research service, lawyers can comb through crucial primary and secondary materials, and read past court decisions, legislation, legal commentary, and more. For those looking to get an even broader picture of the history of the country’s changing laws, this research service also provides full-text court and tribunal decisions dating back to the 1800s.

To read more about Ms. S, visit CBC News.

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Globe And Mail Polls The Canadian Population On Marijuana Legalization

Marijuana legalization has obviously been a hot topic throughout Canada and we here at Legalite have remained diligent in covering it, particularly in recent weeks. The issue was a cornerstone of Justin Trudeau’s campaign for Prime Minister and basically secured him the youth vote, so he kind of has to follow through if he wants to have any credibility. To his credit, the wheels seem to be very much in motion at the moment and, while it still may take a while to iron out all the details, weed should be a-ok legally within the next few years.

So what does the general population think about all this right now? A new poll from the Globe and Mail and Nanos Research aimed to find out, with the results being fairly typical of how liberal Canadians have become in response to the Harper era. Here were some of the findings:

  • 68% of the population support or somewhat support marijuana legalization.
  • 30% of the population oppose or somewhat oppose marijuana legalization.
  • British Columbia had the highest degree of support with 75% while the Prairies had the lowest with 55%.
  • 51% are concerned that legalization will lead to increased drug use by people under 21; 45% do not think this.
  • 57% don’t believe that marijuana is a gateway drug, while 40% think it is.
  • 44% want marijuana to be sold at dedicated dispensaries for the drug, while pharmacies were at 43% and liquor stores were at 36% (more than one answer were allowed for this)
  • 49% want legalized marijuana to be homegrown while 48% do not.

So while there was always going to be some naysayers, it’s pretty apparent that a majority of the population is now in favour of legalization. Although it’s bizarre how many people think that it will lead to increased drug use among minors, as if the way things are now is stopping kids from getting high. And if I were a parent, I would be more concerned about my kid getting drunk while underage anyway.

Source: Globe and Mail

Image source: CBC

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Federal Judge allows Medical Marijuana users to grow pot

On Wednesday, February 24 in Vancouver, Federal Judge, Michael Phelan, struck down the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations that restricted medical marijuana patients from growing their own marijuana.

Judge Phelan ruled that the regulations “were an infringement on charter rights and declared they have no force and effect.” However, he suspended his ruling for six months for the federal government to determine new rules. He also made sure to point out that this new ruling doesn’t change other laws that make it illegal for Canadians to use or grow pot recreationally.

The Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations was introduced in 2013 by the Conservative Government. Under it, medical marijuana patients were required to buy cannabis from licenses producers instead of growing their own. Neil Allard and three other British Columbia residents challenged this regulation, stating it violated their charter rights.

While this new ruling is a definite victory for medical marijuana users, there are still some limitations. For one, it only applies to about 28,000 Canadian who already had the proper licenses at the time of the injunction. Lawyer John Conroy, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, stated that there are thousands of other medical marijuana users not covered by the original injunction and they will have to wait six months before they can start legally growing their own cannabis. He also said that if someone had to change the address of their production site, their possession license is no longer valid with Health Canada and warns users with licenses to ensure that they’re up-to-date.

Read more about this case, the new ruling, and Judge Phelan’s decision on the CBC News website.

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Online Free TV Is (Technically) Legal In Canada

Anyone mildly savvy to the ways of the internet and copyright laws knows that downloading copyrighted content is a big no-no. A big problem in recent years, Canada’s Copyright Act made certain that the downloading of copyrighted content of any kind without permission is outright illegal.

Such laws that prohibit downloading, however, don’t technically apply to streaming television programs, effectively making free TV completely legal in Canada.

Unlike downloading, streaming “falls a little bit into that grey area” comments legal expert Michael Geist. The reason being that, unlike downloading, which involves creating a digital copy of a movie or television show, streaming is inherently “transient,” with no re-watchable copy made.

With that, anyone reprimanded for streaming a television show could simply say they weren’t making making a permanent copy, as streaming is really just a temporary reproduction, and thus be exempt from any Canadian copyright laws.

For a majority of popular streaming services, the most popular example being Netflix, this isn’t really useful information. Such streaming services have already struck deals with the owner’s of the content they stream, so there isn’t any copyright infringement going on in the slightest. You can Netflix all you like (which is a lot for many) and never have to worry about an allegation of copyright infringement notice.

But for folks who stream movies and shows from file-sharing websites, or use devices like The Free TV Box which effectively allows you to watch almost anything as long as a stream-able file exists online, this is essential information to know, no legal research needed.

As Geist notes, the majority of individuals who do stream content are using paid-for subscriptions, and so for the time being its unlikely the Canadian government will crack down on users who stream. But, should amount of individuals who utilize free file-sharing websites (which would be deemed illegal if they were operating out of Canada) grow, it’s likely the practice will fall firmly out of the legal grey area.

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US Judge Orders Apple to Break into Mass Shooter’s iPhone

This week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered that Apple must help the federal government gain access into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino mass shooters — and Apple has not responded kindly.

In an open letter published on their website on February 16th, Apple CEO Tim Cook warns that the US government’s order presents a slippery slope that would ultimately threaten its customers’ trust in the company.

In the letter, Cook questions the moral and legal implications of Pym’s ruling. He argues that Apple’s customers use their iPhones to store personal information, which “needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.”

Pym had ruled that Apple must assist the FBI in breaking into Syed Farook’s encrypted iPhone, since his passcode remains unknown. But Apple is clearly reluctant to comply with the order, and their scathing open letter aims to start a public discussion about the relationship between personal privacy and national security — and whether the former must be compromised to achieve the latter.

While Pym’s order stipulates that Apple’s software needs to only unlock Farook’s iPhone, Apple has suggested that their software could potentially be used by the government to intrude on more customers’ privacy in future cases. Cook also noted that no software of this kind currently exists today.

Pym’s ruling also requires Apple to tell the court if it considers the order to be unreasonably burdensome. With the release of Apple’s letter, it remains to be seen if the public at large will consider Pym’s order to be a reasonable request to safeguard national security, or one that presents worrisome future implications for customers’ personal information.

For more on this story, visit CBC News.

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First patient dies under Quebec’s new death with dignity laws

death with dignity laws

This month, a patient died with the assistance of a physician in Quebec City — marking the first time a Canadian has exercised their legal right to die with dignity.

Quebec’s law that allows for assisted dying came into effect on December 10th of last year. While this is the first publicly-known circumstance of a patient dying with the aid of a doctor in the province, it remains unclear whether or not there are more cases: Quebec health agencies aren’t obligated to report them, given patient confidentiality. However, a report on all cases is set to be prepared by a parliamentary committee for the Quebec National Assembly this fall.

In December, Quebec became the first Canadian province where terminally ill patients were granted the legal right to die with the assistance of a doctor. The law came about when a Quebec Court of Appeal panel with three judges overturned the previous Quebec Superior Court ruling, which stipulated that the province couldn’t allow for its dying with dignity law to come into effect, until the Criminal Code changed some of its provisions.

The Court of Appeal also encouraged the implementation of assisted dying laws at the federal level, rather than just the provincial. While the federal government had requested six more months to draft new assisted dying laws, this month, the Supreme Court of Canada allowed the federal government to have only a four-month extension. The court also ruled that Quebec’s right-to-die laws can continue to be implemented. Now, it remains to be seen whether more provinces will follow Quebec’s lead, and right-to-die advocates hold on to hope that the country as a whole will adopt similar legislation.

For more on this story, visit CBC News.

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New Laws In Ontario That Came Into Effect In 2016

A new year brings many changes, and in 2016, that includes some new laws on both federal and provincial levels.

Put in place by the Trudeau government and the province of Ontario, here are the new laws you’ll need to know about in 2016:

Lower Tax Rates For The Middle Class

If you earn anywhere between $45,282 and $90,563, you’ll enjoy a lower income tax rate in 2016, dropping down to 20.5% from 22%.

Those who earn over $200, 000, however, can expect to get taxed a bit more, with the rate increase from 29% to 33%.

TFSA Limit Lowered

Be wary if you’ve been putting funds into your Tax Free Savings Account, as the federal limit will now be set at $5, 500, a significant drop from the previous $10, 000.

Winter Tire Discount

Put winter tires on your car, and get a discount thanks to a new legislation from Ontario’s Liberal government. The discount will come from insurance companies, and will likely vary in amount, but know that you are legally entitled to some form of tax break.

Stricter Crossover Fines

Pay attention to when pedestrians are crossing the street, because if you accelerate before they’ve reached the sidewalk, you could get slapped with a $150-$500 fine.

Note, however, this only applies to crossovers, not crosswalks, which are different. Crossovers are a zone where drivers are alerted to potential pedestrians via signage and alert lights, whereas crosswalks is the term used when a real traffic light is present. You should also know that the new law applies to crosswalks when a school crossing guard is there.

No More Nuclear Plant Fee

You stand to save around $5.60 on all of your upcoming hydro bills thanks to the removal of tax in place to offset the costs of nuclear power plants. This only applies to citizens, however, as registered businesses will still be required to pay said tax.

Higher Hydro Bills

Despite the aforementioned savings on your hydro bill, you still stand to pay more, due to several changes made by the government. The biggest culprit is an increase in time-of-use rates put in place by the Ontario Energy Board, made worse by the removal of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit.

Featured image courtesy of: The City Of Toronto

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Congress Repeals Meat Labelling Law After Canada’s Retaliation Measure

Last week, the U.S. Congress passed a new legislation that repealed a controversial meat labelling law, known as COOL, that had been causing problems between Canada, Mexico and U.S. trade relations.

Canada and Mexico argued that the measure was “nothing more than thinly disguised protectionism”. The World Trade Organization had also repeatedly ruled in favour of both countries. The WTO stated that the law gave U.S. products an unfair advantage over Canadian and Mexican ones and that the labelling provisions on beef and pork products violated international trade rules. The WTO gave both countries the right to impose $1 billion in punitive tariffs on various U.S. products. The U.S. products targeted by the retaliation included a wide variety of industries other than the beef and pork industries and included products like apples, rice, maple syrup, wine, jewelry, office chairs, wooden furniture, and mattresses.

Before congress passed the bill, there was tension between Canada and the U.S. with some American politicians supporting COOL while Canada was expected to move forward and retaliate if COOL was not repealed. U.S. President Barack Obama signed the bill on Friday, December 18, thus completing the legislative process.

International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay called it “a great day for Canada”. Freeland also stated that “this is a real vindication of the power and significance of the WTO dispute-resolution mechanism, which has secured a real win for Canada” and that “this is a decision that will have a real and immediate benefit to the Canadian economy”. Both ministers also thanked Canadian diplomats and the American politicians and industries that supported repealing the measure.

For more information on this story, read on here and here.

Featured image and story source: CBC

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Quebec Passes New Animal Rights Law

Quebec’s relax animal rights rules were changed on Friday, December 4 when the province passed new animal-welfare legislation that defines animals as sentient beings. Agricultural Minister Pierre Paradis lead the bill and was inspired by Manitoba, Ontario, British Columbia, and France, which just updated their animal rights laws in January to define animals as sentient beings. The legislation, known as Bill 54, was passed by a 109-0 margin.

Before this law was passed, animals had as many rights as a piece of furniture in Quebec and the province was considered the puppy mills capital of North America, according to this article from the Toronto Star. With this new legislation, pet owners must ensure that their animals receive “care that meets their biological needs”. Bill 54 will help protect animals like cats, dogs, horses, and animals that are raised for fur. Farm animals will not get the same protection as pets, however, they must be treated in “accordance with generally recognized rules”.

Inspectors will now have the power to see an animal if they have reasonable cause to suspect it’s being abused or mistreated and can obtain a warrant to enter homes and seize animals. Judges can hand down fines to first time offenders as high as $250,000. These fines can be doubled or tripled for repeat offenders, and judges can also sentence offenders for up to 18 months of incarceration.

The Montreal SPCA believes that the bill does not go far enough because exotic animals and wildlife in captivity are excluded from this legislation. They are, however, hopeful that lawmakers will promote regulations that ban the permanent chaining of dogs.

Featured image source: Everyday Feminism

Story source: Toronto Star

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