- Get Going Minister!
Morteza Momenzadeh Tameh was a member of a resistance group with links to terrorist groups in Iran in the 1980s. He was imprisoned by the Iranian government from 1982 to 1987. After his release he fled to Canada and requested permanent residency in 1994, after being found to be a UN Convention refugee. He was turned down because of his association with the resistance group. He requested, on the recommendation of an immigration counsellor, that the Minister of Public Safety grant him relief. Then Minister Stockwell Day turned him down. Appeals followed. In 2012, Canada removed his resistance group from its list of terrorist organizations. Delays continued. The government changed. Still, Mr. Tameh waited. Finally, he applied to the Federal Court of Canada to ask for an order of mandamus, meaning the Minister must make a decision. The Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale, argued that because of his many duties and responsibilities, he should not be held to any timelines whatsoever in making a decision. Chief Justice Crampton of the Federal Court disagreed. He wrote: “Ministers of the Crown are typically very busy people. But they are not so busy that they can take as many years as they see fit to respond to requests made pursuant to validly enacted legislation, by persons seeking determinations that are important to them. At some point, they will have an obligation to provide a response.” Justice Crampton set out a very stringent set of timelines for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Mr. Tameh to follow, and ordered the Minister to make a decision within 60 days of receiving submissions and a recommendation from the President of the CBSA.
Tameh v. Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2017 FC 288 (CanLII)
- The Maple Syrup Caper
In November 2016 Richard Vallieres was convicted of theft, fraud and trafficking in stolen goods as a ringleader in the theft of $18.7 million worth of maple syrup. The case made headlines around the world. The elaborate scheme bypassed the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, which regulates the syrup industry in Quebec. On April 28, 2017 he was sentenced to eight years in prison and a fine of $9.4 million. If he cannot pay the fine, his jail term will be extended by an additional six years. Pretty hefty price to pay for sticky fingers!
R. c Vallieres, 2017 QCCS 1687 (CanLII)
- School Funding Bombshell
A Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench Justice has ruled that Catholic separate schools do not have a constitutional right to admit and obtain funding for non-Catholic students. He further found that the Government of Saskatchewan, in funding non-Catholic students in Catholic schools, violated its Charter duty of religious neutrality and equality. The case involved a small Catholic school with only 24 students, of whom only 9 were Catholic. Justice Donald Layh reviewed a number of constitutional documents, including the 1901 NWT School Ordinance in reaching his decision. Justice Layh stayed his decision until June 30, 2017 because of the effect his judgment will likely have on enrollment in both Catholic and public schools in the province. If enforced, it would mean that non-Catholic students would have to move to public schools by the fall of 2018. The case could have repercussions outside of Saskatchewan. Alberta and Ontario also allow fully funded Catholic schools. However, Alberta Education Minister David Eggan has stated that the ruling will have no impact in Alberta and “Any student in Alberta can enroll in the school of their choice, provided there is sufficient space and resources.” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has announced that the province will use the Charter’s Notwithstanding Clause to override the decision.
Good Spirit School Division No. 204 v Christ the Teacher Roman Catholic Separate School Division No. 212, 2017 SKQB 109 (CanLII)
- WCB Covers Workplace Bullying
In what her lawyer considers to be a Canadian first, a Prince Edward Island widow has been awarded benefits after her husband’s death was found to be the result of workplace bullying. Eric Donovan died at age 47 from cardiac arrest. He worked for a not-for-profit organization that runs group homes and provides services for intellectually challenged adults. For the last few years of his life, his wife noticed him becoming more and more depressed, stressed and anxious. He claimed his supervisor was bullying him. After being away because of an injury to his back, he returned to work only three days before his death. At first, the WCB said it didn’t have jurisdiction to hear her claim, but the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal for Prince Edward Island sent the case back to the WCB for determination. The WCB asked for an independent legal opinion. It then told Mrs. Donovan that a “workplace accident” as defined by the province’s Workers Compensation Act could include workplace bullying. If she could establish that her husband’s death was because of workplace bullying, she would be compensated. She and her lawyer then gathered affidavits from four of his co-workers along with medical records and medical opinions to make their case. Lisa Donovan was awarded benefits including funeral costs, a lump sum for death benefits, and monthly payments to cover survivor benefits based on a percentage of his pensionable salary.