Canadian Lawyer

August 2019

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 12 of 63 13 Laura Gomez on Canada's food policy On June 17, the federal government announced its first-ever food policy for Canada, which will support community projects and provide additional funding to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Canadian Lawyer asked Laura Gomez, a partner in Gowling WLG in Ottawa whose regulatory practice concerns the commercialization of foods, drugs and other consumer products, about the initiative. What are the most important aspects of this new policy as they'll affect your clients? I think an important part of the new policy is funds to help the CFIA [Canadian Food Inspection Agency] crack down on mislabelling and misrepresentation. The aim of that is to protect consumers from deception but also, very importantly, to help protect companies from unfair competition. Food safety is obviously a priority for the CFIA, but at the same time, the CFIA has a responsibility to help the commercial interests of Canadian industry. My partner, Ron Doering, recently wrote an article on this topic entitled "Yes, CFIA, Safe Food Is The Priority, But It's Not Your Only Job." The new policy will protect Canadian companies . . . a lot of which put significant resources toward meeting Canadian laws. Two federal acts — the Safe Food for Canadians Act and the Food and Drugs Act — contain specific prohibitions against false advertising and labelling. Canada has its own labelling requirements and food standards, and ideally these funds will level the playing field for Canadian companies that are complying with the law. I hope the CFIA reaches out to these companies and stakeholders, which may be aware of certain areas that need attention. Do imported food products comply with Canadian regulations? We do have a lot of imported food products, and Canadians are exposed to information, advertising and products that are not compliant with Canadian laws. Some companies may import products that are not properly labelled in accordance with Canadian requirements, and Canadian companies may be on an unlevel playing field with companies that haven't gone through that rigorous process. It creates unfair competition. What are the implications of this new policy for Canadian companies in the food sector and for legal practitioners? The fact that we have the government focusing on food policy is important because food is a vital business for Canada, especially because Canada has the potential to be a global leader in agri-food. It is important for Canada to have a strong food business and for there to be a robust food law bar to support that business. From a legal business perspective, that's also an important element. . . . There's a lot of different ways that lawyers are involved in the food industry, from contracts to business mergers to employment. Class action alleging sex abuse against religious institution not time- barred: SCC A class action lawsuit for sexual abuse against a religious organization in Quebec and an institution it ran was not time-barred and may proceed, the SCC ruled on June 7. In L'Oratoire Saint Joseph du Mont Royal v. J.J., the SCC ruled it could proceed against La Province canadienne de la Congrégation de Sainte-Croix and the Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal. Although the case involved Quebec procedural rules, most provinces have not limited claims to damages by sexual abuse victims by historical time. Q&A Delays could result in stay of charges against SNC-Lavalin The Canadian government's charge of fraud and corruption against SNC- Lavalin Group Inc. over its former business dealings in Libya may go to trial, a Quebec provincial judge ruled on May 29. But whether the case against SNC-Lavalin will ever be heard remains to be seen, due to the delay in getting the case to trial. The Crown's case against the Canadian construction giant is already unusual, says corporate litigator Bruce McMeekin in Toronto. "It's a rare case in that the number of Criminal Code prosecutions involving corporations in Canada are few," says McMeekin. Financial services lawyers anticipate stricter rules on open banking A new proposal could have sweeping impacts across the financial services sector. On June 19, the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce released a report urging more oversight of so-called open banking, used by at least four million Canadians, which lets customers direct banks to their data with other businesses and gives them more options for making payments directly from their bank accounts. As it stands, these customers have "no control over the scope or duration of the app's access to their data," the report said. Laura Gomez Partner GOWLING WLG Years in the industry eight years in regulatory law, including food law Career highlight Helping companies bring new and innovative foods to market in Canada. This can involve obtaining Temporary Marketing Authorization Letters for foods, letters of no objection or by working with the regulator to help companies navigate regulatory requirements or make changes to standards. Career lowlight When a client is forced to accept an unfavourable decision after running out of possible recourses.

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