Canadian Lawyer

June 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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UPFRONT 10 QUEBEC UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Quebec's Magpie River granted personhood Recognition is a salvo in pressuring the Quebec government to protect the river A RIVER in Quebec was the first in Canada to be recognized as a legal person, although, legally, the recognition will serve only as a tool to pressure the Quebec government to formally protect the river. In February, the regional county munici- pality of Minganie and the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit adopted separate resolutions granting nine legal rights to the Magpie river in Quebec's Côte-Nord region, including the right to flow, to maintain its biodiversity and to take legal action. The river has one hydroelectric dam, managed by Hydro-Québec, and environ- mental groups have sought to protect the river from further disruption. An alliance formed by Minganie, the Innu Council and environmental groups, including the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Quebec chapter are banking on precedents set around the world to encourage Quebec to grant Quebec court upholds most of secularism law Quebec's secularism law is largely legal, a Superior Court judge ruled on Apr. 20, even as he acknowledged that it violates the rights of Muslim women and has cruel and dehumanizing consequences for those who wear religious symbols. Justice Marc-André Blanchard upheld the bulk of the religious symbols law, while striking down clauses pertaining to English- language school boards and a ban on members of the provincial legislature wearing face coverings. In a 240-page ruling, Blanchard concluded that the law, known as Bill 21, "does not violate the Canadian constitutional architecture." Witnesses ordered to remove masks A Quebec court judge ruled that witnesses in a criminal trial must testify without masks, in a decision that takes an opposite stand to an earlier one in Ontario. Court of Quebec Justice Dennis Galiatsatos wrote in an April 8 decision, part of harassment trial, that the "justice system can't be held in abeyance until the entire population has been properly vaccinated [against COVID-19] or until the illness has run its course through our society." He added that "in order to preserve the defence's fundamental right to effectively cross-examine the complainant, counsel will need to see her face." Data breach class action dismissed on merits A class action lawsuit over loss of personal information has been dismissed at the merit stage, marking a first in Canada, says lawyer Anne Merminod, who represented the defendant, as well as providing a blueprint for an appropriate response when a privacy breach occurs. In the March 26 decision in Danny Lamoureux c. Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, Justice Florence Lucas of the Superior Court of Quebec dismissed the claim for punitive damages, notably finding that the defendant, IIROC, had responded diligently when the loss of personal information became apparent. Montreal's 20-20-20 development bylaw comes into effect A new "20-20-20" bylaw came into force in Montreal on April 1, which requires real estate developers to construct social, affordable and family housing in the city. The bylaw has met with some opposition, as it requires large, new residential developments to contain 20 per cent social housing, 20 per cent affordable housing and 20 per cent "family housing" with a minimum of three bedrooms. Montrealers will return to the polls in November, and former mayor Denis Coderre, who is considered more supportive of the business community and has announced his intention to run again, has already promised to review the legislation. Quebec launches Women's White Collar Defense chapter The Quebec chapter of the Women's White Collar Defense Association launched in Montreal on May 4. The organization, founded in the United States in 1999, promotes the practices of female lawyers in white collar defence by providing them with opportunities for networking, referrals and professional development. Nicole Duval Hesler, formerly chief justice of the Court of Appeal of Quebec, and WWCDA co-founder Karen Popp, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, D.C. and global co-leader of Sidley's White Collar Group, were special guests at the event.

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