Canadian Lawyer

July/August 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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UPFRONT 8 ONTARIO UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Confusion over immigration, border guidance Divergence in decisions by immigration and border officials frustrate lawyers amid COVID-19 border closure Ravi Jain TRAVEL ADVISORIES and added restrictions at the U.S. border amid the COVID-19 pandemic have caused complications in immigration cases. After the Public Health Agency of Canada advised travellers to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada offered categorical interpretations of the orders in council that followed. But the Canada Border Services Agency had its own interpretation as well, says Ravi Jain, chairman of the Canadian Bar Association's national Immigration Law section and a partner at Green and Spiegel LLP in Toronto. Jain says that some guidance has seemed straightforward on its face: that Canadians would always be able to come home, even if health measures needed to be taken, for instance. But, in practice, those with valid work permits or special visas approved at the consulate were being told at the border that they fall under non-essential, optional and discretionary travel, says Jain. Previous immi- gration department guidance indicated that optional and discretionary was recreation and tourism related, he says. In general, border agents seemed to be taking a narrower approach to admitting incomers, says Jain, citing cases of people who had been turned away from reuniting with a spouse or witnessing the birth of their child. "To a lot of us, it was just shocking. We still don't have the detailed guidance that we need with respect to how CBSA is interpreting these Tribunal system 'in crisis,' group says The management of the administrative tribunals in Ontario has left the justice system unable to meet mandates or service standards, according to a watchdog group. "Experienced adjudicators were let go, large numbers of vacant adjudicator positions were left unfilled, and key tribunal leadership positions were either left vacant or filled with people with responsibilities for too many tribunals," said the statement from the group, called Tribunal Watch Ontario. "The tribunals in Tribunals Ontario will play a critical role as we move forward. . . . To do this, they need to be fully functioning." Halton courthouse project halted The government will not move forward with the Halton Region consolidated courthouse construction project considering the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey announced. The funds set aside for the construction project will be used for immediate infrastructure needs of the Milton and Burlington courthouses and to invest in technology, said Downey's statement. Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers called on Ontario Premier Doug Ford's government to reconsider, saying the project's cancellation was based on "the absolutely ridiculous notion that 'virtual justice' could replace the real justice" provided in courtrooms. Law schools chip in with summer jobs Law schools offered summer research positions to law students amid the economic downturn. The University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law Common Law Section posted more than 50 new funded summer positions, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law added 60 new positions, the University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law added 25 positions and Windsor Law offered positions for first- and second-year students. "We want to provide students with as many meaningful opportunities for professional development as possible," says Andrew Green, associate dean of students at U of T. Refusing video conference likened to 'quill and ink' An Ontario judge said "we should not be going back" to costly personal attendance in court. "In my view, in 2020, use of readily available technology is part of the basic skillset required of civil litigators," wrote Justice Frederick Myers in the May 4 decision Arconti v. Smith, 2020 ONSC 2782. "We no longer record evidence using quill and ink. In fact, we apparently do not even teach children to use cursive writing in all schools anymore. We now have the technological ability to communicate remotely effectively." Bennett Jones names new Toronto managing partner Dominique Hussey will run the Toronto office at Bennett Jones LLP, the firm announced in May, also appointing Hussey as vice chairwoman. "Because I've done quite a bit of patent litigation, I have been very focused on minute details that others might not want to focus on. And I also have been able to see the forest for the trees. That's a skill that I think that I've developed and also one that I think will be important to maintaining a vision for the Toronto office."

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