Anti-vaxxer mom loses bid to prevent her kids from being vaccinated

An anti-vaxxer mother who believes that the COVID-19 vaccine may contain electronic chips, heavy metals and aborted fetal cells lost her bid to prevent her two children from being vaccinated.

In the latest of a growing number of COVID-related cases dealt by the courts, Quebec Superior Court Justice Steve Reimnitz withdrew the woman’s parental authority in health matters of her nine and fourteen-year old kids. Continue reading “Anti-vaxxer mom loses bid to prevent her kids from being vaccinated”

Damages awarded to victims of conjugal violence

A man who subjected his ex-wife to nine years of domestic violence was ordered by Quebec Superior Court to pay her nearly $47,000 in damages, the second time in less than a month that a Quebec court ordered an abusive spouse to pay damages for the violence they inflicted.

In a decision welcomed by family law experts and advocates against family violence who believe it is the harbinger of an emerging trend, Quebec Superior Court Justice Gregory Moore held that recent amendments to the federal Divorce Act (Act) “underline the sensibility that the the courts and parties must demonstrate faced with this challenge” to society. Justice Moore awarded more than $1,900 in damages, $30,000 in non-pecuniary damages and $15,000 in punitive damages.

“This is a developing trend because society in general rejects family violence, because there is heightened awareness by the courts over the issue of family violence, and because domestic violence is no longer viewed by the courts as being only a ground for granting divorce but as a possible cause of physical and psychological harm that must be compensated,” said Michel Tétrault, a family law expert who has written Droit de la famille.”

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Landmark ruling for trans rights

Quebec, once on the forefront of trans rights, is now joining the ranks of most Canadian jurisdictions after Quebec Superior Court declared unconstitutional several articles of the Civil Code of Quebec that discriminated against trans and non-binary people.

In a long-awaited ruling by trans, non-binary and intersex people, the “critically important” decision affirms that having your identity acknowledged and recognized by the State is a core aspect of the right to equality and the right to dignity, assert legal experts. The judgment, lauded as the most sweeping in its scope in Canada involving the constitutional rights of trans people, found that six provisions of the Civil Code violated rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

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Parent loses child custody during COVID-19

Non-respect of public health measures during a pandemic may be considered to be “reprehensible, even harmful, conduct to the development of a child,” held Quebec Superior Court Justice Claude Villeneuve in a child custody case.

He added: “Even if freedom of expression is a recognized right, it does not go so far as to permit an adult to denigrate and discredit, in the presence of a minor, citizens who respect rules enacted by the public health authorities in a pandemic linked to COVID-19.” Justice Villeneuve added that the parent’s message to his child is that it’s not important to respect the law nor the health and security of others, “which leads the Court to put into question the parental capacities… and as a result, the custody of the child.”  Here is the decision.

Paying rent during COVID-19

Paying rent during COVID-19

The obligation to pay rent during the pandemic is an issue the courts are grappling with. Quebec Superior Court Justice Peter Kalichman acknowledged that Quebec retailer Groupe Dynamite’s  ability to use certain leased premises to operate its stores was “severely limited by the Covid Restrictions.”

However, Justice Kalichman held that “where leased premises are occupied by a debtor and cannot be leased to anyone else, the landlord is not prevented from demanding immediate payment of rent regardless of whether or not the debtor is carrying on business.”

Or as law firm McCarthy Tétrault points out, the debtor is not relieved of the obligation to pay post-filing rent when it is asserting a right to sole possession of the premises and has not disclaimed the lease.

Hasidic community wins partial court victory

Hasidic community wins partial court victory

The Hasidic Jewish Council of Quebec won a partial legal battle after Quebec Superior Court decided that the provincial government’s order that a maximum of 10 people be allowed in a place of worship applies to each room within a building that has independent access to the street, and not just to the building in its entirety.

Quebec Superior Justice Chantal Masse, who did not weigh in on the constitutionality of the public health measures, left the door for the Quebec government to adjust the rules in the future.

Here’s a copy of the ruling, and here’s a story I wrote about the constitutional questions that have surfaced over the curfew imposed by the Quebec government.

Constitutional challenge over legal aid fees rebuffed by court

A Montreal criminal lawyer behind a constitutional challenge of Quebec’s legal aid disbursements’ system and a motion to revamp the legal aid fee system lost his bid after Quebec Superior Court held that it was a political matter.

In a long-awaited decision by the Quebec legal community, with several high-profile criminal defense lawyer’s associations as well as the Quebec Bar joining in the effort, Superior Court Justice Manon Lavoie held that while the issue deserved attention it was an administrative issue that had nothing to do with the constitutional rights of the litigant who raised the matter.

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Commercial landlord not entitled to rent due to force majeure, rules Quebec court

In one of the first Covid-19 related lawsuits to surface, a Quebec court held that a commercial landlord was not entitled to collect rent from its tenant because a Quebec government decree that suspended non-essential business activities for three months to stem the flow of the Covid-19 pandemic constitutes force majeure.

The closely watched case, the only one so far in Quebec that has been decided on the merits, is expected to have important ramifications for landlords and tenants, underlines the importance of carefully drafting force majeure clauses, and highlights the weight the courts will give to the notion of peaceable enjoyment, according to legal observers.

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Right to privacy trumps parental authority, rules court

A father who demanded that his 16-year old son hand in a copy of his passport as well as other personal documents learned the hard way that Charter-protected rights can trump parental authority.

Parents still remain gatekeepers. They still have the rights and duties of custody, supervision and education of their children. Parental authority still gives parents the right to make all decisions necessary to their children’s well-being.

But there are limits.

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Administrative adjudicators can be removed from cases in deliberation, rules court

In an unusually public and legal tiff between two arbiters of Quebec’s disciplinary process, Quebec Superior Court ruled that the chair of Quebec’s disciplinary council of presidents has the power to remove cases, even in deliberation, from administrative adjudicators who take too long to render judgment.

The precedent-setting ruling, the first that examined the scope of powers in the hands of the chair, follows in the footsteps of a pan-Canadian trend by the courts to hold that the long-standing principle that adjudicators decide must give way to timely decision-making to ensure access to justice, respect for natural justice and the protection of the public, according to disciplinary law experts.

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