In a self-parody of “comparable worth” theory (see also POL Aug. 17), the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Air Canada flight attendants may sue for gender discrimination on the grounds that they’re paid less than the male-dominated pilots union. Couldn’t possibly be because of supply and demand for differently trained and skilled groups, because the flight attendants and pilots work for the same organization in the same business. Air Canada will still be permitted to argue that flight attendants’ passing out of pillows is not “equal work” to the pilots’ flying the plane. The Court criticized litigation tactics that created “enormous expense” over the course of the 15-year litigation—but it was somehow Air Canada that was the target of the criticism, rather than the flight attendants for bringing the risible case. (Richard Blackwell, “Flight attendants win case against Air Canada”, The Globe and Mail, Jan. 26; Canada (Human Rights Commission) v. Canadian Airlines International Ltd., 2006 SCC 1) (via Bashman).
“The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments [last] Wednesday about a case that will decide if hosts are responsible for the behaviour of their alcohol-consuming guests. The issue stems from a 1999 New Year’s Eve drunk driving accident caused by Desmond Desormeaux, who left a house party near Ottawa after consuming 12 beers.” A victim in the subsequent crash “has been seeking compensation from Desormeaux’s hosts, Julie Zimmerman and Dwight Courrier, for letting him drive home drunk.” The Ontario courts have thus far ruled against her case. (CTV, Jan. 19). See Sept. 12, 2002. Many but not all American states have embraced social-host alcohol liability, and the topic has also stirred controversy in Australia, where the high court of the largest state, New South Wales, rejected the principle recently (Feb. 23, 2005).
Canada: “A Vancouver woman is suing the city and the B.C. government for allegedly failing to keep the streets safe after her pet cat was killed by two coyotes….In a statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, [Judith] Webster says she’s suffered and continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress and/or adjustment disorder, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of past and future earnings.” (CanWest/Vancouver Province/Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Jan. 4).
“Canadian auto regulators are testing a system that would enforce speed limits by making it harder to push down the car’s gas pedal once the speed limit is passed, according to a newspaper report. The system being tested by Transport Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Department of Transportation, uses a global positioning satellite device installed in the car to monitor the car’s speed and position. If the car begins to significantly exceed the speed limit for the road on which it’s travelling the system responds by making it harder to depress the gas pedal, according to a story posted on the Toronto Globe and Mail’s website.” (“Device stops speeders from inside car”, CNNMoney, Dec. 4). Kaimipono Wenger at Concurring Opinions (Dec. 4) says the idea “seems wrong on so many levels it’s hard to list them all” and should not necessarily be viewed as pro-safety, since speeding in some circumstances — say, on rural roads in an emergency on the way to a hospital — can be vital to life and limb.
The government of Great Britain looked at the idea a few years ago (“Go slow — like it or not”, BBC, Oct. 23, 1998; “‘Spy in the sky’ targets speeders”, BBC, Jan. 4, 2000). A 2002 research paper (PDF) funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation on New England traffic recommended speed governors as the “most effective way of achieving speed compliance” (p. 4). Last year a Gallup poll for NHTSA (PDF) found that the idea was generally not popular with the public, commanding only 35 percent support (pp. 11, 64); Eastern, female, Hispanic and black respondents were relatively favorably disposed. Back on Oct. 26, 1999 we took note of a report that trial lawyers were taking a look at trying to get courts to hold automakers liable for not installing speed governors on vehicles.
“Alberta has become the first province in Canada to enact legislation allowing children to sue their mothers for injuries suffered in the womb. But the law applies only to damage suffered in car accidents.” The idea isn’t really to foment legal strife between infants and their moms, but just to give the family a new way to tap its auto insurance policy, quite possibly with the support and connivance of the mother who will be the ostensibly adverse party in the case:
Jim Rivait, spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says the new law is going to have an impact on insurance premiums right across the country.
“Any time you have an increase in claim costs, it has to flow through to what policy holders pay for auto insurance premiums,” said Rivait.
Not to mention the wear and tear on the principles underlying a legal system if collusive and tactical litigation comes to be winked at. (“New Alberta law will permit some lawsuits against mothers”, CBC/Sympatico-MSN, Dec. 3) (via KevinMD).
Canadian “Jan Luedecke was acquitted of sexual assault after a judge ruled he was asleep during the attack — a disorder known as ‘sexsomnia.'” His alleged victim was drinking at a party, fell asleep on a couch, awoke to find Luedecke having sex with her, and immediately went to the police to charge him with sexual assault. She says she will appeal Justice Russell Otter’s decision. Otter further ruled that, though Luedecke claims not to be able to control his sleep-sex, he does not have a mental disease requiring review of his condition by a mental health board.
The Toronto Sun has an entertaining interview with another man who claims to suffer from sexsomnia: “His symptoms are brought on by alcohol, he said. He rarely remembers having sex upon waking up. … [It] came close to ending his marriage. After a party one night, the man found himself in bed with his wife’s friend.” And cads everywhere cheer the new excuse, as “I was really drunk” gives way to “I was asleep.” (Natalie Pona, “It’s ruled sleep sex”, Toronto Sun, Nov. 30; Natalie Pona, “She’ll fight it all the way”, Toronto Sun, Nov. 30; Natalie Pona, “Sexsomnia nightmare”, Toronto Sun, Dec. 1 (hat-tip to W.F.)).
“SLAPP” suits sighted in Canada, too: Activa Holdings Inc., a large developer in the Waterloo, Ont. area, is suing stay-at-home mother Louisette Lanteigne for C$2 million because of a website she has put up complaining of allegedly hazardous environmental conditions. The company charges defamation. (CP/CTV, Nov. 14; Mike Oliviera, CP/Macleans, Nov. 13)(Slashdot thread)(cache of her now-overloaded site).
In our continuing series (see Jul. 5): the family of 58-year-old Gerald Glover, who became ill following the recent Toronto outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease, is suing. “It’s never been about the money,” said his daughter Cheryl. The suit seeks class action status and asks C$600 million. (“Legionnaires’ class action suit seeks $600M”, CTV, Oct. 26) (via KevinMD). Other suits that were not about the money: Apr. 30, Jun. 15, Jun. 30, and Jul. 5, 2005; Aug. 16, 2004; Mar. 27-28 and Sept. 3-4, 2002; Apr. 24 and May 9, 2001; Jul. 26-27, 2000. And one that was: Jun. 14, 2001.
Prime Minister Paul Martin incorrectly blamed the United States for gun crime in Canada by using an unsubstantiated figure to assert that 50 per cent of this country’s gun crimes involve smuggled firearms, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins said yesterday.
Mr. Wilkins said that Canadian officials admitted in meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week “that that figure was just grabbed out of thin air.”…
The figure, which others have used previously, is not based on any statistical study that could be traced by The Globe and Mail, and police forces and other authorities said yesterday it is not verifiable.
“I know that figure of 50 per cent has been bandied about, but no one can substantiate that figure,” said Staff Sergeant Paul Marsh, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
As noted Oct. 24, Martin’s government says it is considering suing American gun manufacturers for failing to prevent the smuggling of their products across the border. (Campbell Clark, “Don’t blame U.S. for gun crime, Canada told”, Globe and Mail, Oct. 27).
Teachers should forego traditional classroom Halloween celebrations because they are disrespectful of Wiccans and may cause some children to feel excluded, says a Toronto District School Board memo sent to principals and teachers this week.
“Many recently arrived students in our schools share absolutely none of the background cultural knowledge that is necessary to view ‘trick or treating,’ the commercialization of death, the Christian sexist demonization of pagan religious beliefs, as ‘fun,’ ” says the memo.
Showing more common sense than the school board, an actual Wiccan priestess interviewed by the newspaper, Nicole Cooper, said she didn’t feel threatened by costumes or trick-or-treating: “If I had children I wouldn’t deprive them of that — it’s a really fun thing to do. It’s engaging in the spirit of the season; it’s exciting for kids,” she said.