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Category Archive: Legal News

Canadian Doctors Conflicted On Legal Age For Marijuana Use

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

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

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

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

Featured image source: Next Avenue

Story source: The Globe and Mail, Vice

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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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured image source: The Mix

Featured story source: Toronto Star

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Canadian Police Push For Greater Personal Internet Access

Ever since Edward Snowden exposed the NSA’s controversial surveillance tactics, the topic of privacy rights on the Internet has been a hot button issue. While much of the conversation has been focused on the policies of the US, it is something that affects the whole world and now Canada is dealing with it firsthand.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police passed a resolution calling for the legal ability to unlock digital evidence, as there is no Canadian law stating that a person needs to provide a password for their device to the police during an investigation. This partly stems from the case last year down south of the border where the FBI went to court to get the right to crack a suspect’s phone password who was involved in the San Bernardino mass shooting.

It’s no surprise that a wealth of a criminal activity takes place online and is heavily protected by encryption and other tactics. The police also want to be able to obtain basic information about suspects through their telecommunications companies. Right now, police need to have court approval to get access to this information, which takes time and usually ends up in the relevant incriminating evidence being deleted. “The victims in the digital space are real,” stated Joe Oliver, the RCMP Assistant Commissioner. “Canada’s law and policing capabilities must keep pace with the evolution of technology.”

While the reasons for police intruding into people’s personal online environments obviously come from a place of public protection, there is certainly a big push-back from citizens as well. David Christopher is a spokesperson for a group called OpenMedia, which advocates for keeping the Internet free of surveillance. “On the face of it, this seems like it’s clearly unconstitutional,” he said.

The federal government is now beginning a consultation on cybersecurity that runs until October 15, 2016 at which point a resolution will most certainly be addressed. This topic will undoubtedly continue to get thornier in the coming months.

Source: CBC

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How Driverless Cars Will Change Canada’s Legal Landscape

What does it mean to “drive” a car? That may seem like a ridiculous question to ask, but in today’s automobile industry, where autonomous and semi-autonomous cars are a reality, a clear-cut answer doesn’t really exist.

For are you really driving a car if it’s technically driving itself? What happens when your autonomous automobile gets into an accident, are you or the manufacturer of the car to blame?

In Canada, it looks like the driver will still be held accountable, at least according to Canadian law firm Borden Ladner Gervais. Through analyzing the legality of self-driving cars and potential legal disputes concerning driver-liability, BLG concludes that an autonomous-automobile’s owner will still be held accountable in the case of an accident, as stated in their recently published report Autonomous Vehicles.

BLG’s explains that, as long as the driver can take control of an autonomous automobile, then there is “a continuing basis for driver negligence and liability.” Basically, if the driver has the power to intervene and avoid an accident, then they will still be held accountable in the case of an accident.

It’s important to note, however, that the BLG report largely focuses on the autonomous automobile industry as it exists today. Right now, fully autonomous cars aren’t available to the public, but semi-autonomous cars, like the Tesla Model S, are purchasable and are on the road right now.

BLG’s aformentioned conclusion is then addressing semi-autonomous cars, a type of automobile that is largely unregulated in Canada at the moment. According to the Canadian law firm, using the autonomous function of such vehicles is basically the same thing as using cruise control, and therefore the driver should be made entirely liable.

To make things a little more black and white, BLG partner Robert Love told CBC that “unless the car has no steering wheel, the driver will always face potential liability in an accident.” So if a car has a wheel the driver can use, then the driver should be made responsible in case of an accident, even if they weren’t technically driving.

Ultimately, however, as the automobile landscape changes and car’s that have no steering wheel or driver-function are released, Canada’s judges will need to rule who is responsible when an accident occurs. When that happens, BLG stated that the car manufacturer could be made accountable, though how the legal system will adapt to fully autonomous cars remains to be seen.

Featured image courtesy of: landrovermena

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Social Media Scrutiny During Ghomeshi Case Could Prompt Reforms


During the Jian Ghomeshi trial, many Canadians expressed outrage on social media over the verdict and the way the case was handled overall. It looks like the public reaction may actually change the way that sexual assault cases are handled by the legal system in the future.

Mary Rolf, a law student at Dalhousie University and researcher studying the public reaction to the Jian Ghomeshi case, presented her findings at an international law conference in Halifax this week. She stated that the case could lead to “crowd-sourced reforms” regarding how the legal system handles sexual assault cases.

According to Rolf, the reaction on social media was unprecedented because “you don’t usually hear ordinary Canadians commenting on whether they think the justice system is fair”. Rolf also stated in an interview that the social media reaction to the case was “a great example of people getting engaged in what they were unhappy with. I think social media could be such a great forum to poll people’s real-time reactions”.

As to how this reaction from the public could reform laws, Rolf stated that the “law is reciprocal. It’s just as much about people saying ‘This is the society I want to live in,’ as it is about the letter of the law”.

If Rolf’s findings are correct, that means that social media could potentially have an effect on a number of different laws in the future. If you own a business or a legal firm, it’s important to stay on top of new law reforms as well as public opinion regarding the law. LexisNexis provides legal management software that can help you search for legal information and insight quickly and easily. They also have programs that can help you manage bills and accounting, capture expenses, and gain control over client management. Visit the LexisNexis website to learn more about their software programs.

Featured image source: National Post

Story source: Metro News

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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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Prime Minister’s Youth Council Gives Teens a Voice in Policy

Canadian Millennials will be given an opportunity to influence federal policy, thanks to a new initiative by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During a Twitter question and answer session this week, Trudeau announced that he plans to create the Prime Minister’s Youth Council to help “shape the future of Canadian policy”.

Canadian teens and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 will be able to provide input on a variety of federal policies that address employment, climate change, building stronger communities, and education. The Prime Minister’s Youth Council will be non-partisan. Members will be selected based on certain criteria, including community involvement and leadership experience. Those selected can serve up to a two-year term and are expected to spend 10-20 hours a month on council-related activities. Meetings will also be held across the country and those on the council will be compensated for their time and travel expenses.

100 Canadians will be selected to be part of the council from an initial pool of 300 people. According to the government website, 100 candidates who have the highest scores in community involvement will be selected, 100 will be selected at random, and another 100 will be selected based on diversity indicators. These strategies are in place to ensure that those selected have a strong understanding of the issues and activities in their community, and to ensure that there’s a fair, broad, and diverse representation of Canadian youth. Online applications will be open from July 22 until August 12, 2016.

Speaking about this new initiative, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that he’s “looking forward to showing young people and showing all Canadians that young people’s voices and input matter deeply”. Trudeau received a lot of support from young voters, and new voters, including youth, were key to the Liberal victory this past election. Creating this council shows that Trudeau values the ideas and opinions of the large voter base that supported him and his campaign.

Take a look at the Prime Minister’s Youth Council website to learn more.

Story source: Toronto Star

Featured image source: Toronto Star

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Creep Catcher Attracts Legal Controversy For Going After Online Child Predators

We all remember “To Catch a Predator”, the Dateline NBC program where host Chris Hansen would confront pedophiles after they were lured to a house to potentially have sex with an underage teen that they had assumed they were chatting with online. As Hansen smugly faced down hundreds of child predators over the course of several investigations, the legality of the show became increasingly hazier as what the producers were doing was considered entrapment by critics. And yet so many of us were hooked – the thrill of catching predators too enticing to pass up. Now, a similar movement in Canada is gaining steam, as well as courting the same kind of legal quandaries.

Creep Catcher is a growing network of civilians that aim to expose child predators in much the same way as Dateline NBC did all those years ago. All throughout the country, the 15 different chapters of the organization pose as underage kids online and bait predators into meeting them at a certain location. Once there, they ambush the suspect with a camera and put the resulting video up on YouTube so that the public shaming can begin. Some of the targets end up running away immediately, but often, just as on “To Catch a Predator”, they stay to try and explain themselves or to apologize. And just like the previous show, Creep Catcher has grown quite an enthusiastic following.

Police are not as happy about this, of course, denouncing the movement as vigilantism that could get its members in a dangerous spot if an altercation breaks out, as has happened on a few occasions. Also, the groups could leave themselves open to civil suits if there is not enough clear evidence to back up their allegations. Additionally, creating fake profiles online, no matter the purpose, comes a little too close to fraud activities and there’s always the chance of harassment charges if members push too hard during a confrontation and the predator isn’t willing to play along. Lastly, police are concerned with these actions interfering with their own investigations into child predators.

None of these concerns will stop Creep Catcher, however, and many of the leaders say that the police actually encourage them behind closed doors. There will also apparently be more of an effort going forward to help the predator, instead of just yelling and screaming in their faces for the sake of online hits. Because while we all love to watch somebody get reamed out for wrongdoings, it would probably take away a bit of the ickiness factor that lingers afterwards.

Source: National Post

Image source: Vice

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