Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Devastated by cheating spouse

So devastated, in fact, that even years after her husband Gary walked out on her for another woman, Sherry Leskun was too transfixed by the injustice to tackle the job market: a British Columbia court ruled that she was “bitter to the point of obsession with his misconduct and in consequence has been unable to make a new life.” Reason enough to maintain support payments at a level set to compensate for her lack of earnings? The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to decide soon. (Bruce Cheadle, “Supreme Court set to rule on whether a cheating spouse is debilitating”, CP/Maclean’s, Jun. 20).

Update: Canadian residential schools litigation

“Lawyers who have been representing survivors of Canada’s residential school system are expected to get the biggest payment ever recorded for a Canadian class action case.” The federal government will pay about C$80 million in fees, of which half will go to the Regina-based Merchant Law Group and half to a consortium of other lawyers. (“Lawyers set to be paid $80M in school abuse deal”, CTV, May 8; “School abuse deal includes $80M for lawyers”, CBC, May 8). The fees are part of a $2 billion deal intended to resolve portions of the litigation over the federally-sponsored, church-run Indian schools, which were originally accused of permitting the infliction of physical and sexual abuse on some of their students; later the litigation expanded to include charges of “cultural deprivation” and alienation on behalf of thousands of Native Americans who attended the schools, which were geared toward assimilation into Canadian culture (FAQ from CBC on settlement). More: Aug. 23-24, 2000.

Update: Canada high court rejects social-host liability

In a ringing reaffirmation of personal responsibility, the Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously rejected an attempt (see May 2) to hold party givers financially liable for a car crash caused by a drunken guest:

“A person who accepts an invitation to attend a private party does not park his autonomy at the door,” wrote Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

“The consumption of alcohol, and the assumption of the risks of impaired judgment, is in almost all cases a personal choice and an inherently personal activity.”

Unlike tavern owners, said the court, social hosts can’t monitor their guests’ drinking, may be inebriated themselves, and aren’t trained to detect whether departing guests are intoxicated.

Moreover, “the law does not impose a duty to eliminate risk.

“It accepts that competent people have the right to engage in risky activities,” said the judgment. “Conversely, it permits third parties witnessing risk to decide not become rescuers or otherwise intervene.”

(Bruce Cheadle, “Top court rejects drunk guest lawsuit”, CP/Canoe, May 5; Kathleen Harris, “”, Winnipeg Sun, May 6; opinion, Childs v. Desormeaux; Ann Marie McQueen, “Case boils down to personal responsibility”, Ottawa Sun, May 6; Michelle Mann, “Supreme Court couldn’t rule on compassion in party host case”, CBC, May 5). Numerous U.S. states have embraced social-host liability, whether through legislation or through unilateral court reinterpretation of common law doctrine.

Canada high court to consider social-host liability

Various American jurisdictions impose liability on party-givers who it’s argued should have done more to prevent guests from drinking and driving. Now the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to consider a case in which Zoe Childs of Oxford Station is suing Dwight Courrier and Julie Zimmerman, who threw a New Year’s party attended by Desmond Desormeaux, an alcoholic who drove off and into Childs’ car, severely injuring her. (cross-posted from Point of Law). Update May 7: court unanimously rejects liability.

Update: CAIR using litigation to silence critics?

The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has settled its Canadian lawsuit against the Web site, the Canadian terrorism expert David Harris, writer David Frum, and the National Post. The settlement is secret, but there was no retraction of the claim that CAIR is a “terrorist-supporting front organization . . .founded by Hamas supporters” that aims “to make radical Islam the dominant religion in the United States.” David Frum has details in the April 25 National Post, and expresses optimism that free criticism of terrorism supporters can now take place.

Update: As Bob B points out in the comments, elsewhere in the blogosphere, Israpundit, LGF, and Powerline. Daniel Pipes also writes with extensive detail. It reasonably appears CAIR dropped the suit, to avoid submitting to discovery: an important lesson for every libel plaintiff. Three cheers for Greenberg Traurig LLP, which did pro bono work that was actually pro bono.

If I could sue like the animals

Canadian photographer Gregory Colbert is starting an outfit he calls the Animal Copyright Foundation whose intent is to collect royalty payments on behalf of animal species as compensation for the use in advertising of, for instance, the Budweiser Clydesdales, Target’s spotted dog, the Hartford’s stag, and other furred, finned or feathered creatures, the proceeds to be distributed to conservation causes that benefit animals. In all fairness, media accounts describe Colbert as seeking not obligatory rules requiring payment of the 1 percent royalties when a photo or video is used, but rather a “seal of approval” system in which advertisers vie for consumer favor by voluntarily pledging the set-aside. One almost hesitates to publicize the idea, however, for fear it will percolate in the law schools and emerge after a few years as an asserted new legal entitlement, as “animal standing” has done. (WSJ law blog, Mar. 16; Tim Nudd, AdFreak, Mar. 10; Lunch Over IP, Feb. 25).

Should Health Care Workers be Able to Refuse Treatment to Gun Owners?

That”s the polling question of the day in Canada, on morning television. The story involves an elderly woman in Nova Scotia who suffers from multiple sclerosis and cannot walk. She was receiving health assistance from employees of Northwood Home Care. One morning, the Northwood sent an employee who had never been to the home before. In the home, the worker saw an unloaded hunting rifle, with the safety on, and a trigger lock.

The worker immediately fled the home in fear, because the locked, unloaded rifle was not in a gun cabinet. The elderly woman’s husband is a hunter, whose gun is lawfully registered, but he had forgotten to return the locked, unloaded gun to his gun cabinet.

Northwood Home Care refuses to send employees back to the home. According to a Canadian Press Association report, “The agency said its workers fear for their safety because of the hunting rifles.” (“Rifle kills home care,” Halifax Chronicle Herald, March 21, 2006.)

The health care workers themselves would seem to be in need of mental health treatment. The Northwoods workers plainly suffer from a serious case of hoplophobia. (From the Greek word “hoplo”, meaning “weapon.”)

Just as many normal people dislike spiders, many other normal people dislike guns. A few mentally ill people have such debilitaing fear of spiders (aracnophobia) that their fear impedes their functioning in their daily lives. Similarly, hoplophobes suffer from such extreme and irrational fears of guns that their daily functioning is impaired. A health care worker who refuses to provide health care would obviously be suffering from impairment of her normal daily functioning.

I hope that the publicity surrounding the incident persuades Northwood Home Care (Halifax, N.S.) to resume providing health care to the elderly woman, and also encourages Northwood to seek mental health treatment for the hoplophobics among its employees.

One-stop Shopping for Gun Thieves

In today’s National Post, Canadian columnist Lorne Gunter reports an interview with John Hicks, the former Webmaster for the Canadian Firearms Centre (CFC). The CFC is the national gun control center, which is supposed to maintain the registry of all rifles and shotguns which was created by the former Liberal government in 1995 legislation. According to Gunter, Hicks “contends that anyone with a home computer, an Internet connection and a little patience can hack into the national firearms database and find out who owns guns, where they live and what makes and models they possess.” The CFC computers are known to have been breached 306 times between 1995 and 2003. The computer registry has cost over half a billion Canadian dollars so far, and still doesn’t work. Gunter reports that last December, the contractor “flew in folks from around Canada with the intention they would stay in Ottawa and do testing for six weeks.” But “After one day, all were sent home because the application crashed over 90 times with over 30 Severity-1 crashes.” The new Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised to abolish the dysfunctional long gun registry, and spend the savings on the police; however, Harper leads a minority government so it is not clear if he will be able to accomplish his objective. A research paper by professor Gary Mauser for the Fraser Institute provides the full story on the long gun registry debacle.

Sued by politico, Canadian blogger backs down

Mark Bourrie, who puts out the blog Ottawa Watch, indulged in some unkind comments at the expense of Warren Kinsella, a prominent operative in Canada’s Liberal Party. Then Kinsella filed a libel action demanding C$600,000. (Jorge Barrera, Ottawa Sun, Feb. 15; Jay Currie, Feb. 15). Although numerous well-wishers urged Bourrie to resist in court, the two sides settled the case within about a week and Bourrie published an apologetic note on his blog. Sequence of posts at Ottawa Watch: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh.

“No one is being force fed soda”

My op-ed on the litigation against Big Cola (see Feb. 2) draws an L.A. Times reader letter (Feb. 7). Also welcome Andrew Sullivan readers (Jan. 27). More by Sullivan: “Hey, these adverts are making me fat”, The Times (U.K.), Jan. 29; blog posts including Jan. 25 and Jan. 26. And see Philip Wallach, “There Are Deeper Pockets than ‘Big Soda'”, The American Enterprise, Dec. 15; John Luik, “Sponge Bob, Wide Pants?”, TCS Daily, Jan. 25; and Rogier van Bakel, Jan. 23.

On allegations of a link between food advertising and childhood obesity, see Todd Zywicki, Dec. 21 and links. According to John Hood (“Bill Won’t Stop War on Ads”, Carolina Journal, Nov. 11):

American children are now gaining weight even as they watch somewhat less commercial television than previous generations did. One study estimated that children saw about 15 percent fewer TV ads in 2003 than their counterparts did in 1994. Alas, that does not mean today’s kids are playing outside more. They simply have many more commercial-free alternatives such as premium cable, tapes and DVDs, and video and computer games.

Another unfortunate fact for advocates of regulating food advertising is that their pet idea has already been done to the max – that is, in the form of outright bans of ads targeting children – in places such as Sweden and Quebec. The obesity rate of Swedish children differs little from that of British children, however. The same is true in Quebec vs. other Canadian provinces.

Meanwhile, Jacob Sullum (“Dora the Exploiter”, syndicated/Reason, Jan. 25) comments on the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s suit against Viacom/Nickolodeon and Kellogg (see Jan. 20):

The plaintiffs say it’s not about the money. I believe them. This lawsuit, which CSPI and its allies plan to file under a Massachusetts consumer protection statute prohibiting “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” is really about censorship. By threatening onerous damages, CSPI aims to achieve through the courts what it has unsuccessfully demanded from legislators and regulators for decades: a ban on food advertising aimed at children.

Earlier, Sullum reported on the CDC venturing into West Virginia to stalk obesity “vectors” (“Watching the Detectives”, syndicated/Reason, Aug. 26).