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CBA Influence | February 2018

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Broadening our influence

The CBA’s Policy Committee and member volunteers stay busy all year speaking to governments, courts and regulators on your behalf. And we’d like you to know more about it. This monthly newsletter features a compendium of blog posts about recent CBA initiatives, and status reports on proposed federal legislation, regulatory changes and government consultations.

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Help wanted: Leaders like you

You’ve been honing your skills – in leadership, judgment, assessing complex legal issues. You want new challenges. Want to be Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions? Interested in settling disputes in International Trade and International Investment? How about a seat on the federal bench? Well step right up – those positions and more are open, all you need to do is apply. Check out federal appointment opportunities and open positions on the bench. The government considers bilingual proficiency and diversity in filling these positions. Are they looking for you?

Preclearance should not come at the expense of Canadians’ rights

An appearance before the Senate Security and National Defence Committee in December gave the CBA another chance to reiterate its concerns with Bill C-23, Preclearance Act 2016. CBA Sections have five key concerns with the bill, including the way it enhances the powers of U.S. pre-clearance officers, and issues with the privacy of electronic information.

Improving Canada’s grade on UNCRC compliance reporting

It’s easier to get where you’re going if you have a map – and much easier if the map is a good one. The “map” created by Heritage Canada to guide this country’s mandatory five-year reports on its progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a good first step, but the CBA has ideas for making it better.

How tricky is consent? Let us count the ways

Who knew that consent would turn out to be the Schrodinger’s Cat of human interaction? It can be argued to be there and not there simultaneously, depending on your perspective, particularly when it comes to information collected for business purposes. CBA Sections comment on draft guidelines on collecting personal information.

Unified family courts will increase access to justice for everyone

Judges yes, but not just judges. One of the ways to take the burden off the justice system is to take a different approach to how, when and where people appear in court. This isn’t a new idea, Ontario’s been doing it for 40 years, and in her mandate letter the Justice Minister is directed to move on creating unified family courts. We wrote to the Minister to remind her.

Competition Bureau initiates discussion on Big Data

Bring together information of high volume, velocity and variety, and use technology and analysis to transform its value, and you’ve got Big Data. The Competition Law Section commented on a Competition Bureau discussion on the interaction of competition policy in Canada with big data and innovation.

Divorce Act needs to be updated to reflect new parenting realities

It’s time to amend the Divorce Act, the CBA’s Family Law Section says. It has written to the Justice Minister outlining its concerns about the 30-year-old Act and offering recommendations for amendments.

Focus in parenting legislation should be on the children, not the parents

A private member’s bill sponsored by Senator Anne Cools seeks to treat the parents in a marital breakdown as equals when it comes to parenting decisions. But the focus in these cases shouldn’t be on the parents’ wants and needs, the CBA’s Family Law Section says. It should be on the children.

Flagpoling pilot project unlawful, says Immigration Section

The Immigration Department’s decision to extend a controversial pilot program that limits flagpoling by foreign nationals to weekdays has dismayed the CBA’s Immigration Law Section, which believes the program is unlawful, and will likely end up in court.

Guatemalan lawyer faces death threats for actions against mining company

Lawyers practising in countries not governed by the rule of law can be open to threats and intimidation just for doing their job. That’s what happened to the Guatemalan lawyer representing rights of local people in a dispute with a Canada- and U.S.-based mining company.

One more time: Lawyers, not immigration consultants

This is the latest part of the conversation between the CBA Immigration Law Section and the federal government about who is best placed to offer professional representation for newcomers to Canada.

Cannabis laws could have disproportionate effect on immigrants

The changes to laws and regulations that accompanied the law to legalize cannabis in Canada contain some unintentionally harsh consequences for permanent residents and would-be immigrants.

30 is the new over-the-hill: Time to update language law

The reality of Canada’s two official languages is continually changing, but law that governs them is frozen in time, CBA President Kerry Simmons said in a letter to the Ministers of Heritage, Justice and Treasury. It’s time for an update.

Competition Bureau’s merger fee review would change more than the money

The Competition Bureau’s plan to increase fees for mergers signals not just a change in fees, but a whole new philosophy about how the Mergers Directorate is funded. The CBA says the rationale for this change “remains unclear”.

What every pension framework needs: Sustainability, clarity, harmony

The CBA Pension Law Section replied at the request of the Nova Scotia Branch to a discussion paper published by the Nova Scotia Department of Finance as part of its review of its pension funding framework.

How do you solve a problem like privilege?

Sometimes legislation tries to solve problems that don’t actually exist. That’s what’s going on with Bill C-58, An Act to Amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, the CBA said in a letter to the Treasury Minister and the Justice Minister.

Holding corporate feet to the fire for improper business practices

A deferred prosecution regime would reduce negative consequences for the innocent and encourage corporations to cooperate with investigations, but the plan to expand Canada’s toolkit to address corporate wrongdoing also has its drawbacks, say several CBA Sections.

Ten things important to me about the TWU hearing

Susan Ursel and co-counsel appeared before the Supreme Court in December on behalf of the CBA, which was intervening in the TWU case. Former CBA President Eugene Meehan, who was also in the room, asked her to write about her impressions of the day.

Focus on Parliament

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CBA Focus on Parliament is a regular compendium of federal government bills, draft regulations, selected private members’ bills and other government initiatives.