Canadian Lawyer

April 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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UPFRONT 10 www.canadianlawyermag.com OTTAWA UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Selection process begins for SCC vacancy Candidates must be from Ontario, functionally bilingual and representative of Canadian diversity ON FEB. 19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the process for selecting the next Supreme Court of Canada justice to fill the vacancy left by Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, who will retire on July 1. "The integrity of the Supreme Court selection process is especially important in the aftermath of [the] recent controversy over the Trudeau government's selection of ex-Governor General Julie Payette and the Harper government's appointment of Justice [Marc] Nadon in 2013" to the Supreme Court of Canada, says Jamie Cameron, professor emerita of Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. "The Supreme Court is one of the founda- tions of our system of government, and the process must be seen to be done" correctly. Candidates must be "jurists of the highest Lametti proposes permanent justice reforms The COVID-19 pandemic appeared set to force modernization of Canada's justice system when Justice Minister David Lametti introduced a bill on Feb. 24 that seeks to make some of the changes permanent that were temporary. The amendments would clarify the Criminal Code and other laws to expand remote options, including video or audio appearances by accused at preliminary inquiries, trials, pleas or sentencing hearings. Video selection of jury candidates would also be available in certain circumstances. In-person proceedings would remain the norm, but remote proceedings would still be an option. Government plans to repeal mandatory minimum penalties On Feb. 18, the federal government introduced Bill C-22, which will repeal mandatory minimum penalties for most offences other than murder. Proposed amendments to the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act would reform sentencing measures for certain offences, including by repealing some of the MMPs of imprisonment that contribute to higher incarceration rates disproportionately affecting Indigenous peoples and Black Canadians. Professional organizations have urged the repeal, including the Canadian Bar Association and the Criminal Lawyers' Association. Thalidomide survivors sue federal government for discrimination The Thalidomide Survivors Task Group filed a legal claim on Feb. 16 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against the federal government for violating individual plaintiffs' rights under ss. 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The group's claim was spurred in part by the government's December promise of a no-fault support program for anyone suffering an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, says Raj Anand of WeirFoulds LLP in Toronto and counsel for the 45 plaintiffs. In contrast, survivors of Canada's thalidomide tragedy do not have no-fault support programs available to them. U of Ottawa launches video storytelling project In February, the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section launched an innovative video storytelling project. Among the first crop of videos was an interview with the chief justice of Canada, himself an alumnus of the school, discussing his vision for the Supreme Court. Described as "the audiovisual platform for law," Jurivision is a visual advocacy project to promote the sharing of legal knowledge through accessible audiovisual content. Its visual posts cover several legal themes and four visual genres: JuriExperiences, on paths into law; JuriKnowledge; JuryMetho, on researching law; and JuriDocs, which follow researchers into the field. FCA rules on credit-card transaction processing taxes The Federal Court of Appeal's February ruling that GST/HST can no longer be collected from banks and credit unions on credit card transaction processing services will benefit financial institutions, said Jean-Guillaume Shooner, a partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP. However, unless successfully appealed, the decision may result in additional costs to businesses such as Visa and Mastercard and lower profit margins. These costs could lead to increased fees charged to financial institutions or merchants, with consumers likely suffering the additional economic burden, Shooner said.

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