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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

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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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TWU Law School Rejection Upheld by Ontario Appeal Court

Trinity Western University’s proposed law school hit another road block last week when the Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed its bid to have the school accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

The decision was made based on the fact that TWU’s Christian community covenant is discriminatory against the LGBTQ community. In order to be admitted into TWU, each student has to sign that covenant, which states that they  have to refrain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Appeal court justice James MacPherson’s wrote that part of the covenant that the court took issue with was deeply discriminatory and hurtful.

In 2014, the Law Society voted 28 to 21 in favour of rejecting TWU’s request for accreditation, and the case set religious freedom against equality rights. The Court of Appeal did conclude that the Law Society’s decision was a breach of religious freedom, but a legitimate one because they were acting in the public interest.

MacPherson also wrote that although lacking the benefit of the Law Society’s accreditation will make it harder for TWU to run their law school, it doesn’t mean they can’t still do so. TWU, however, sees the infringement on their religious rights as a serious matter, and will be taking their appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Law Society of Upper Canada saw the court’s decision as another step towards promoting diversity in the field of law, and removing discriminatory barriers, which is also how OUTLaws sees it. They intervened in the case, argued in favour of rejecting the appeal, and stated that they were delighted with the most recent outcome.

The decision to reject the appeal was made unusually fast, due in part to the impending Pride celebrations in Toronto, as well as the tragedy that struck Orlando last month.

Featured image source: cbc.ca

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When and How Brexit Begins – Remains Up For Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more on this story, visit CBC.

Featured image source: The Guardian.

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Physician-Assisted Dying is Now Legal in Canada

Following a week of debate, Canada has made physician-assisted dying legal, marking our country one of the first to allow sick people who want to end their lives to seek the help of doctors.

The new law does limit this option to only the incurably sick, and medical approval is required, as well as a mandated waiting period of 15 days.

The bill was introduced in April by the Canadian government, and it passed the final vote in the Senate this past Friday. It includes strict criteria that all patients who are seeking a doctor’s help in dying must meet.

That criteria includes eligibility for government-funded healthcare, which is meant to apply the law only to those who are Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and limit the possibility of suicide tourism.

The patient must also be 18 or older and mentally competent with a serious incurable illness, disease or disability, and they must be in an advanced state of irreversible decline that involves enduring and intolerable suffering.

When the patient officially signs their request for physician-assisted death, there must also be two independent witnesses present.

Most of the ongoing debate has to do with the criteria that stipulates the patient’s natural death is imminent, because some lawmakers want to broaden the law to include patients with degenerative diseases who are not close to death.

The law could be seen as immoral, based on the fact that those who are suffering a great deal but aren’t near to death could face even more suffering due to expensive court cases to gain the right to die.

That potential amendment was dropped, however, based on the fact that it could expand the law to those who have a wide variety of serious illnesses, be it PTSD, a spinal cord injury, or even someone plagued by the memories of a sexual assault.

Prime Minister Trudeau was an on-g0ing supporter of the legislation, ever since the Supreme Court struck down the ban on physician-assisted dying in 2015.

News source: npr.org

Featured image source: aolcdn.com

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5 Truly Strange Canadian Laws You Won’t Believe Exist

Understanding Canada’s complex legal system is far from an easy task. Even lawyers have a hard time, which is why legal management software and research tools are so handy. But even the most well-equipped citizen or legal professional can be caught off guard by the legal system, especially since Canada is home to more than a few (incredibly) strange laws.

While certain provinces are known to enforce a few laws that can only be described as wacky, there are several that are a part of Canada’s Criminal Code. So no matter where you are in the nation, the strange Canadian laws you’ll find below apply, so tread carefully.

It is illegal to pretend to practice witchcraft

As outlined in Section 365 of the Canadian Criminal Code, the criminal offence focuses on the “false pretense” of performing witchcraft or any similar mystical practice (i.e. telling fortunes). Somewhat odd about this law is the fact that it actually gives some credence to witchcraft itself, for if it is illegal to pretend to practice magic, it is legal for someone to truly perform magical feats.


It is illegal to create, possess, and sell crime comics

Fearing that “crime comics” (a popular form of comic books of the 1940s and 50s that focused on criminals and detectives rather than superheroes) would influence the minds of readers, Canada created a law in 1949 that explicitly bans them entirely. Crimes in comic books have been made illegal since, as stated in Section 163 of the Criminal Code of Canada, with the criminal in the story needing to be arrested or ultimately be foiled by the end of the comic.


It is illegal to provoke someone to a duel

There’s some strange wording in Section 71 of the Criminal Code, as the practice of provoking someone into duelling is illegal, but the actual act of duelling technically isn’t. While this may be a law created for a bygone era, make sure you keep this in mind the next time you need to defend someone’s honour.


It is illegal to pay entirely with change

Okay, so it isn’t truly illegal to pay with change, but there are certain cases in which it is. As stated in the Currency Act, specifically Section 8 on Legal Tender, there are limits to the amount you can pay in change. For example, you can only pay for a bill of $20 with nothing lower than a loonie, or five dollars with nickels.


It is illegal to scare the Queen

Even if you get the chance, don’t play an April Fool’s prank on Her Majesty, because it’s illegal in our fair nation. Defined in Section 49 of the Criminal Code, the law states that anyone “who willfully, in the presence of Her Majesty, does an act with intent to alarm Her Majesty” can be charged. Same goes for selling “defective stores” (better known as knock-offs) to the Queen.

Featured image courtesy of: Succo

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Cable Companies Launch Suit Against Android TV Box Vendors

Android TV boxes are giving cable companies a run for their money, which may be why the biggest cable companies are trying to shut down vendors that sell these boxes with the promise of free television. For a one -time fee that ranges from $40 to $250, users can attach the box to their television and stream pirated content like movies, TV shows, and live broadcasts, thus eliminating the need to pay for cable.

Cable companies in Canada – Rogers Communications, Bell Media, and Videotron – have recently taken legal action against five Canadian Android TV vendors – iTVBox, Android Bros Sales, MTLFreeTV, My Electronics, and WatchNSaveNow – and have won a temporary injunction that prevents them from selling the boxes at this time.

At the hearing, the cable companies argued that these boxes cause “irreparable harm” to their business and claimed that “piracy is one of the top causes for declining subscriptions for television services in Canada”.

A lawyer for Vincent Wesley, owner of MTLFreeTV, argued that the Android boxes are simply like “iPads, Apple TVs or computers”, all of which can be used for both legal and illegal purposes and that “the vendor doesn’t control or authorize what users do, or what software providers enable users to do”.

According to CBC News, a source close to the case says that a sixth company has been added as a defendant. This source also states that the cable companies started with these five vendors because they could get a quick injunction, but that they also intend to widen it across the country to shut down illegal streaming via Android boxes as best they can.

To learn more about this case, visit the CBC News website. What are your thoughts on this case? Do you agree with the initial ruling siding with the big cable companies?

This is most likely not the last that we will hear about this issue as illegal streaming and piracy remain a hot topic in today’s digital world.

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