Author: Stephen Neil


BULLETIN: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Threatens to sue Ex-Staffers for Statements Made to Police

As yesterday’s City Council proceedings were crawling towards a close, Justice Ian Nordheimer of the Ontario Superior Court ordered that certain previously redacted sections of the now infamous Project Brazen 2 ITO be unsealed. (Note: the entire ITO, which is a document filed to obtain a search warrant, with yesterday’s unsealed information, can be viewed here and here.) Most of the new revelations–which detail the Mayor’s alleged marijuana, cocaine and OxyContin use, his alleged association with escorts, his alleged racist and sexist slurs and his now-confirmed propensity to drink and drive–were brought to light by statements given to police by Ford’s...


What the Ontario Court of Appeal Did and Did Not Say in R v Fearon

As a general rule, individuals should be free from interference by the state unless the law specifically authorizes such interference (see e.g., R v Wong [1990] 3 SCR 36, para 28).  In the context of investigating crimes, this means that the police, again, as a general rule, may only search a person or place likely to contain evidence relating to a crime if they have obtained a search warrant authorized by a member of the judiciary. The principal exception to this rule, however, is the common law doctrine of “search incident to arrest,” which permits officers who have made a...


For Ford Supporters and Critics Alike, Divisional Court Decision in Magder Should be Embraced

On January 25, the Divisional Court released its decision in Magder v Ford 2013 ONSC 263, the much publicized conflict of interest case surrounding Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford. In a judgment that shocked, delighted, and disappointed all at once, the court granted Ford’s appeal, overturned the decision of Justice Hackland, and confirmed that Rob Ford will indeed be the mayor of Toronto until at least 2014. In this post, I will attempt to trace the law and explain exactly why the Divisional Court granted Ford’s appeal. While there remains the prospect of an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,...


BULLETIN: Governor in Council Refers 6 Questions on Senate Reform to Supreme Court

Back in September, I wrote about some of the key constitutional law issues that could  arise on a hypothetical reference case before the Supreme Court of Canada dealing with Bill C-7, or the Senate Reform Act. Earlier today we learned that the Government of Canada was indeed referring questions to the Supreme Court on its Senate reform plans. Moments ago, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform, Tim Uppal, announced the form those questions will take (as reported by the CBC’s Kady O’Malley):  The Governor in Council has referred the following questions to the Supreme Court of Canada:


Supreme Court Clarifies the Law of Duress, Ends Nicole Ryan’s Tragic Ordeal

“This appeal raises a novel question,” Justices LeBel and Cromwell’s majority decision starts out: “[M]ay a wife, whose life is threatened by her abusive husband, rely on the defence of duress when she tries to have him murdered? While the lower courts took a more expansive view of the defence of duress—as being available to an accused when his or her conduct is morally involuntary—the Supreme Court declined to relax the restrictive doctrinal elements of the defence. As a matter of law, for reasons I will explore below, the defence of duress was not available to the accused.


Language, Politics and the Law at Issue again as Quebec’s Bill 101 Heads Back to Court

An interesting dispute is afoot in the province of Quebec that involves the Charter, language, politics, commerce, and the market. Quebec’s Office Québécois de la langue française (“OQFL”), the watchdog agency responsible for ensuring compliance with the Charter of the French Language, CQLR c C-11 [Charter of the French Language] (s. 159), recently launched a microsite insisting that all enterprises in the province modify their brand names to incorporate the French language. Six of the province’s largest retailers—Walmart, Coscto, Best Buy, Gap, Old Navy, and Guess—have initiated proceedings to challenge the move, primarily on the grounds that while the recent pressure is...


Opitz v Wrzesnewskyj: When It Comes to ‘Entitlement’, Majority Treats That Which is Necessary as Sufficient

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its long awaited judgment in Opitz v Wrzesnewskyj, [2012] 3 SCR 76 [Opitz]. The material facts and the operative parts of the lower court decision on the matter have been covered by here and here. As a result, in this post, I focus only on the Supreme Court of Canada’s judgment. Mr. Opitz appealed Lederer J’s Superior Court decision, which voided the results of the 2011 Federal Election in Etobicoke-Centre, directly to the Supreme Court of Canada as of right (pursuant to s. 532(1) of the Canada Elections Act, SC 2000, c 9). One need not look...


BULLETIN: Supreme Court Rules in Opitz v Wrzesnewskyj, No Byelection in Etobicoke-Centre

Today, at 9:45 AM, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered judgment in Opitz v Wrzesnewskyj 2012 SCC 55. The case was launched by defeated Liberal incumbent Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who lost his Etobicoke-Centre seat in the 2011 Federal election to Conservative Ted Opitz by 26 votes. Wrzesnewskyj and his lawyers were able to convince Justice Lederer of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that, as a result of irregularities at a number of polling stations, at least 79 votes had been compromised. In some cases, individuals were able to vote without properly registering; in others, individuals were able to vote without being properly...


Law Enforcement Wins at the Expense of Internet Privacy in R v Ward

Yesterday, after weeks of incessant prodding by Apple, I finally decided to upgrade to the latest version of iTunes. Before doing so, however, a window emerged before me with a dizzying and seemingly endless block of text. Like most people faced with an ominous set of “Terms and Conditions,” I scrolled directly to the bottom of the page, clicked “Agree,” and carried on with my day. Digital consumers are faced with these non-negotiable “contracts of adhesion” on a regular basis, which take their namesake from the fact that the customer has two choices: adhere to its terms or take your...