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Yorkdale’s Fashion Santa Takes Legal Action After Being Replaced

Fashion Santa

In the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street, a department store Santa Claus has to go to court to prove that he is in fact the real Jolly Old Saint Nick. Now, in a real life contemporary twist on this story, Yorkdale Mall’s original Fashion Santa, model Paul Mason, is going to court to prove that he is the one and only, after being replaced ahead of this year’s holiday season.

You may remember Fashion Santa after he exploded on social media throughout the last two years. Starting in December 2014, Yorkdale, located in North Toronto, introduced a new hip Santa Claus for the season’s ad campaigns and to appear around the mall. With a thin figure and sporting a nicely groomed white beard and a stylish wardrobe, shoppers took photos with him en masse, proliferating his image throughout the web.

This year, Yorkdale is keeping the Fashion Santa brand but now has a new model, Adam Martin, to play the part. Needless to say, Mason is none too happy about this. He claims that Fashion Santa was his idea and that it’s technically his brand, meaning Yorkdale can’t use it without him. While he was approached by Yorkdale to reprise the role this year, Mason alleges that the mall wanted to put “conditions” on his employment so he turned them down. Now that they’ve gone ahead anyway with Martin, Mason aims to take them to court.

According to records from Industry Canada’s intellectual property office, Mason actually does hold a copyright for Fashion Santa. But the term has not been officially trademarked yet, and Yorkdale’s application to do so was submitted before Mason’s.

Legal experts, including University of Toronto professor Richard Powers who consulted on the Yorkdale campaign, believes that the mall will come out on top despite Mason’s copyright.

“If he’s copyrighting the name, I’m surprised you can obtain a copyright for that because the terms are generic,” Powers said. “Nobody owns the rights to Santa.”

Meanwhile, John Simpson, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property (unconnected to this case), said, “A character is more than a name. And if it’s just a name then it (should be) a trademark.”

For Yorkdale’s part, they claim that they had already been planning on launching a similar idea to use a bearded older model when Mason approached them with Fashion Santa. So the final result was a merging of the two ideas.

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned legal battle to mark the holidays.

Source: Toronto Star

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An Outcry In Court After Ontario Judge Wears Pro-Trump Cap

Following president-elect Donald Trump’s victory on Tuesday, Ontario judge Bernd Zabel arrived at the John Sopinka courthouse in Hamilton wearing a cap in support of Trump.

Following the incident, legal observers have stated that Justice Zabel’s politically-fueled act goes against the judicial impartiality that the public should be able to rely upon. What is most troubling are Trump’s remarks regarding women and minorities.

When he entered the courtroom, in the usual garb that includes a black robe, red sash and white tie, his extra accessory stood out. Witnesses have said that he explained the addition of the hat as a way to mark the “historic occasion” that was Trump’s victory. He then took the hat off and left it sitting on the bench for everyone in the courtroom to see.

Kim Stanton, who is the legal director at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, also took issue with Zabel’s hat. She found it problematic because of  Trump’s derogatory comments about women, his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States, deporting immigrants and building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. For her, the idea that a Canadian judge would do what Zabel did could make women and minorities feel that they will not have a fair trial. Shahzad Siddiqui, a Muslim lawyer in Toronto, also feels that people in his community would feel uncomfortable, particularly women wearing the veil.

The dean at Osgoode Hall Law, Lorne Sossin, stated that he did not deem the incident worthy of misconduct, but that a warning should definitely be issued to avoid anything similar in the future. Section 1.1 of the Ontario Judicial Council’s principles of judicial office state that judges should maintain objectivity and should not show favour, bias or prejudice towards any party or interest.

William Trudell, who is the chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, has recommended that the incident should be dealt with internally. He called it an unusual situation and said that Zabel is a fine judge. He chalks it up to Wednesday being an unusual day in general, and went on to say that this misstep shows a human error and not a judicial error.

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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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Ryerson University To Open New Law School

Ryerson University in downtown Toronto has started the process of opening its own law school after a year and a half of internal debate. Earlier this month, following a community consultation, the university’s law school originating committee released their letter of intent.

Faculty members across all disciplines at the university are a part of the committee, and crafting that letter of intent is the first step towards developing a Juris Doctor program. To better outline what the program will look like, the university released a statement on their website that says “the proposed program focuses on innovation in legal education for the benefit of graduates, their communities, and the broader society.”

Chris Bentley, who is the executive director of the Legal Innovation Zone and Law Practice Program at Ryerson, sees a value in the proposed law school because of its differences relative to what the country already offers. He sees ways to make Ryerson’s law grads more adaptive and prepared for the changing market.

Ryerson is hoping to prepare their law students for the legal climate, and give them the tools to be creative and strategic with financial literacy, tech skills and an entrepreneurial spirit. This is something the university feels current Canadian law schools aren’t achieving.

The proposed new program also has a mandate to incorporate elements of the Legal Innovation Zone and Law Practice Program, which is currently under review by the Law Society of Upper Canada. It was recommended that the Law Practice Program be discontinued because it wasn’t a sustainable choice compared to articling.

Ryerson’s plan to start a law school is nothing new, and just like all of their programs, they want to offer something that is more practical and hands-on. After learning of these proposed plans, the Law Society of Upper Canada is interested, but states that it is still very early to definitively state whether or not the university will be successful.

Ryerson continues to collect community feedback, and there will be a town hall on October 27. The first town hall, which collected the opinions of students, faculty and staff, was earlier this month.

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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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Why Canada May Start Making You Pay A”Netflix Tax”

Nowadays, there probably isn’t one person in Canada who doesn’t binge-watch shows and movies on Netflix. Or, if not Netflix, some other streaming service that offers an array of programs for a monthly fee.

That fee, however, may become a tad bit more expensive if the Canadian government steps in. Whether you’re watching shows on Netflix, Hulu, or any other streaming service, a federal tax may be implemented that will force subscribers to pay an extra fee.

As of now, most of the major streaming services are all based outside of Canada, meaning none really have to pay any corporate taxes. And since such streaming services don’t operate within Canada, no HST or GST is charged to Canadian clients.

Also, since streaming services are removed from next-to-all national regulations, none have to pay into the Canadian Media Fund, a public-private organization created by the Department of Canadian Heritage to help finance new pieces of Canadian-made media.

All in all, Canada receives almost no monetary gains from streaming services. That doesn’t sit too well with the Canadian government. Netflix subscribers (and all other streaming service users) will likely have to pay up.

In an interview with CTV, Canada’s Heritage Minister Melanie Joly spoke about the issue of streaming services, commenting how “all scenarios” were being explored when it comes to such digital platforms and their relationship with Canadian media.

At one time the idea of forcing streaming services to pay a fee to the Canadian Media Fund was proposed, but Joly has gone on the record stating that won’t happen.

So how will the Canadian government create a means to benefit from streaming services? The likely result will be an added GST charge to subscriptions.

Joly could not comment whether or not a “Netflix Tax” will happen, how it will work, or what path the Canadian government will take in the context of streaming services. All that can be confirmed is the Canadian government is working towards a best-case scenario.

Unfortunately, as is often the case when it comes to the government and the opportunity to make extra money, a tax on citizens is usually seen as the best way to go about things.

Implementing a Netflix Tax will fall on the shoulders of the minister of finance, and Joly did state she would be speaking to Bill Morneau on the matter.

As it stands right now, you won’t be charged a sales tax for burning through every season of “Friends,” but that may change in the near future.

Featured image courtesy of: Wikimedia

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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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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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University Student Leads Class-Action Lawsuit Against British Columbia

The repercussions of British Columbia’s newly imposed “foreign buyer tax” have finally hit the provincial government.

No, not a cooled down housing market, as was the ideal end-goal for the tax. Rather, a university student from China has filed a class-action lawsuit against the B.C. government, and a multitude of foreign nationals are now rallying behind the act.

Originally put in place to cool down the Vancouver housing market, which has experienced unprecedented and problematic growth in prices over the last few years, B.C.’s foreign buyer tax specifically targets all foreign nationals purchasing property in the province, as the name would suggest.

The tax forces anyone from outside of Canada to pay an additional 15 per cent on any real estate purchase. Funds gained through the tax are meant to fund affordable housing developments in British Columbia.

But while the original plan looks fine on paper, in practice the foreign buyer tax can be considered outright racist.

Anyone familiar with the ongoing housing crisis in Vancouver (and Toronto) will know that a large number of foreign buyers are coming from the People’s Republic of China. Jing Li, 29, the university student who filed the class-action lawsuit against the B.C. government, is an example.

But while many assume that Chinese buyers coming to Canada to purchase property are so financially well-off that an extra 15 per cent tax won’t mean much, that isn’t quite a reality.

Again, Li serves as a prime example. As recounted by CBC, Li managed to acquire enough funds ($560,000) to put a down payment on a property in July. But not even two weeks later, the foreign buyer tax came into effect, slapping on another $84,000 to Li’s total.

Unable to go back on her deposit, and simlarly unable to pay the added fee, Li was put in a very serious dilemma. And so recognizing the inherent problems with the foreign buyer tax, Li filed a civil claim early this week and is now representing the multitudes of foreign buyers seeking to purchase real estate in Canada.

According to Li’s lawyer, the B.C. provincial government does not hold the power to impose a tax of this nature, as the “regulation of trade and commerce” is in the federal government’s jurisdiction. The foreign buyer tax is then cited as inherently discriminatory and goes directly against about 24 different international treaties signed by the Canadian government.

Until the claim is certified by the B.C. Supreme Court, which could take years, the foreign buyer tax will remain in effect. Once the long waiting time is over, however, this lawsuit will no doubt change the legal landscape of British Columbia and definitely go down in Canada’s legal history books.

Featured image courtesy of: Magnus L3D

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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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