Supreme Court of Canada: There are no journalists, only citizens

Since 2009, bloggers and journalists have had the same legal standing in Canadian defamation law Continue reading Supreme Court of Canada: There are no journalists, only citizens

Supreme Court rules against journalists confidential sources

Police criminal investigation outweighs confidential press privilege in Chrétien affair

Auberge Grand-Mère subject of 10 year old Chretien scandal photo:

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the National Post must turn over evidence it received from their journalist’s confidential source in the “Grand Mere Affair.”

The Supreme Court ruled that any privilege is not constitutional and must be balanced by the need to investigate criminal activity.

“…evidence sought to be obtained measured against the public interest in respecting the journalist’s promise of confidentiality…Therefore, no journalist can give a secret source an absolute assurance of confidentiality.” Supreme Court of Canada

The case had 16 interveners including CBC, Bell Globe Media, two provinces and the Federal government, civil liberties and various journalist associations.   Continue reading Supreme Court rules against journalists confidential sources

Green Party organizer wants limits on free speech

Just when we get freedom of speech on the Internet, someone tries to take it away

Wayne Crookes photo: P2Pnet

The Supreme Court of Canada is getting ready to hear the case of Wayne Crookes, a former fund-raiser and organizer for the BC Green Party.

Crookes took offense at alleged derogatory remarks made about him on several websites including Open

That’s the nature of the web, people say the rudest things, some of them nasty and perhaps defamatory. They do it anonymously. In the US, the web site and host can rely on safe-harbor provisions of the CDA (Communications Decency Act). “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Section 230

Canada doesn’t have the same provisions although journalists are protected from defamation lawsuits when they report the facts they know.  Continue reading Green Party organizer wants limits on free speech

Top court tosses MP Stephen Fletcher’s suit

Conservative MP Stephen Fletcher, at the archly named "Rally for Canada" Dec 2008 Ottawa
Conservative MP Stephen Fletcher, at the archly named "Rally for Canada" Dec 2008 Ottawa

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada, March 28, 2009

Conservative MP Stephen Fletcher who has a spinal cord injury SCI from a 1996 accident, lost his case for full coverage of his attendant care. The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the case without comment. Fletcher’s lawyer already knew the answer would be no additional coverage beyond the $36,000 provided by the provincial health insurance system in Manitoba. It’s hard to understand Fletcher’s claim since he would have received an insurance settlement from his accident plus generous coverage for life as an MP. Why did he want the Province of Manitoba to provide even more coverage? Obviously the Supreme Court felt less than an urgent need to hear his case. The needs and rights of the disabled in Canada are not advance by those with an exaggerated sense of entitlement. Mr. Fletcher’s income and benefits would place him in the top 3% of Canadians with disabilities, which is hardly a position of need. We do applaud him for being the first SCI disabled member of parliament and cabinet. Continue reading Top court tosses MP Stephen Fletcher’s suit

Court Sides with Honda against man with disability

“A lower court award of punitive damages in the case of a Honda Canada employee was dismissed by the Supreme Court. The Globe and Mail reported (June 28th, 2008)

The Supreme Court of Canada yesterday erased a landmark wrongful-dismissal award made to an employee of Honda Canada, Kevin Keays, who was fired after years of struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Employers breathed a sigh of relief since the award Keays had received for punitive damages – originally $500,000, but reduced to $100,000 by the Ontario Court of Appeal – evaporated altogether in yesterday’s 7-2 ruling.

The majority also awarded legal costs of the appeal to Honda and emphatically disagreed with acid comments the trial judge made about the company.”

Honda was awarded legal costs against Keays which will further cripple the man. This court ruling is a setback for human rights and the rights of the disabled in Canada.

While Honda Canada may crow that it beat up another person with a disability, the Currie Treatment, it is the move of a bully. We should reward Honda by buying our cars from other less reprehensible auto manufacturers. When Honda setup in Canada it bragged about building better cars without a union. What they obviously are doing is treating employees in a negative paternalistic manner without union protection.

What is the case about? Keays, a long time Honda employee, got caught in the trap employers lay if you become disabled. Keays went on disability leave and Honda induced him to return to work on a trial basis. Due to his illness, Keays attendance was poor so they terminated him. By firing him Honda avoided their obligation to pay his long term disability. You cannot claim long term disability after you are fired or quit.

Was Honda thinking about the well being of a person who acquired a disability as their employee? Not likely, they were reducing their exposure to long term disability benefits. The practice is common among employers: the underhanded method used to trick Keays out of his benefits is what caused the lower courts to hold damages against Honda.

You can read about the cases is detail in the law blogs Morton’s Musings and Wise Law Blog.

Obviously the fact that three different courts in Canada ruled three ways on this case sheds light on the inconsistent nature of the courts in awarding Human Rights, punitive and other damages. Even at the Supreme Court, two of the judges disagreed with the majority which gives some hope for the future. However, our system says the majority at the Supreme Court makes the law so that is the law for now.

Court decisions can be capricious, based on the bias of judges, the relative abilities of opposing legal teams and the determination of the power structure to win. Honda was supported by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. That’s a big enemy for a disabled person to win against.

Honda ought to be ashamed of themselves. I think I’ll write their Manabu Nishimae the CEO of Honda Canada a letter. He’s works at 715 Milner Avenue, Toronto, ON, M1B 2K8.

SCC won’t hear appeal for autism treatment funding

Canada’s highest court will not hear an appeal from a group of Ontario families fighting to have the government pay for specialized treatment for their autistic children

Supreme Court of Canada (stock photo)

CTV News -The 28 families argue that costly Intensive Behavioural Therapy — which falls under the umbrella of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) — should be covered by the provincial government.

Earlier, the families won a court ruling in favour of their position, but the decision was overturned by the Ontario Court of Appeal.  Continue reading SCC won’t hear appeal for autism treatment funding

Canada’s Supreme Court to rule on therapy for autism

Canada’s highest court is expected to rule today on whether Ontario should offer therapy for autistic children in schools across the province.

Supreme Court of Canada (stock photo)

CTV News– Critics say Intensive Behavioural Therapy, or intensive behaviour initiative (IBI), is far too costly for most families.

“That’s the terrible thing,” Taline Sagharian, who has a 10-year-old autistic child, told on Wednesday.

“Parents who can’t afford to pay for it, they can’t provide it for their children, and their children are not progressing the way they could be, and they should be.”   Continue reading Canada’s Supreme Court to rule on therapy for autism

VIA Rail must make cars wheelchair accessible: Supreme Court of Canada

Pat Danfroth of the Council of Canadians in the Supreme Court of Canada lobby after victory over Via Rail
The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld a decision by federal regulators that will force VIA Rail to make their passenger rail cars more wheelchair accessible.
CTV News

“Basically the judges have upheld the right of the Canadian Transportation Agency to order VIA Rail to make changes to accommodate disabled people, specifically those in wheelchairs, on their fleet of (French-built) Renaissance cars,” CTV’s Roger Smith said from the SCC.

“That means VIA rail will have to make changes on 40 of the 139 cars to ensure that there’s at least one car that can accommodate disabled people on each train.”

The judges ruled 5-4 in favour of the changes.

The Crown rail corporation said the ruling will cost them between $48 million to $92 million.

In 2003, the transportation agency called for upgrades on the cars including better bedroom and washroom access and expanded tie-down areas for wheelchairs.

In 2005, a Federal Court ruled that VIA Rail did not have to make the upgrades to the cars.

But the decision was appealed by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, who have been fighting for the changes since 2000.

The cars are used in the busy Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor and on routes between Montreal and the Maritimes.

“I’ve been on those cars and the difficulty with them is that they’re very narrow trains,” council member Pat Danforth told Canada AM. “The door widths are not wide enough to accommodate a standard wheelchair.

“As well there’s not enough room to allow for a standard wheelchair to be tied down on the rail cars.”

Danforth said the washrooms are also too small to accommodate a standard wheelchair.

Lawyer David Baker said Canadian standards are far behind U.S. regulations.

“There’s not a single wheelchair accessible rail car in the country at the present time,” said Baker. “In the United States there is not a single rail car that is not wheelchair accessible.”

Advocates say the ruling could be key in establishing a legal precedent in other areas like airline and bus services.

VIA has argued that incidents where a disabled person has encountered an obstacle on their passenger cars is rare.