Same-sex marriages now possible immediately, says Monahan

Despite Alberta’s resistance to homosexual marriage, the fact that Ottawa has decided not to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling last week allowing same-sex marriage is a persuasive legal argument for gays in other provinces to be permitted to marry immediately, said Patrick Monahan, associate dean and a constitutional expert at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. He was quoted by CanWest News Service in a story carried in major daily newspapers from Vancouver to Montreal June 18. “It seems to me that someone in another province would be able to get a court order on the basis that the government is conceding,” he said. Though Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has threatened to block gay marriage, legal analysts say there is little provincial governments can do, considering the definition of marriage is federal jurisdiction.

Universities wrestle with double-cohort acceptances

Several Ontario universities have exceeded or are nearing their student-acceptance targets as they struggle to accommodate the glut of high-school graduates in the province’s double-cohort class, reported The Globe and Mail June 18. At York University, Sheila Embleton, vice-president academic, said it’s necessary for universities to be as close to their targets as possible. “The numbers were all done to make sure it all adds up across the system,” she said. “So if somebody’s over, by definition, somebody must be under, unless they’re all wrong about the number of students actually there.”

Pilots’ award splits the difference, says Lazar

Air Canada pilots are furious over a new arbitrator’s award that gives their former Canadian Airlines counterparts higher placement on the merged carriers’ seniority list, reported The Globe and Mail June 17. Airlines expert Fred Lazar, economics professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said the arbitrator’s award “tends to split the difference” between the competing views of the Air Canada pilots and those who joined from Canadian Airlines. The Air Canada’s Pilots Association initially argued that the Canadian Airlines pilots should be at the bottom of the seniority list because their employer was about to fail at the time Air Canada took it over, Lazar said. But the Canadian Airlines pilots responded that it was a merger of equals and seniority should be based on original date of hire.

Ottawa trying to “weasel out” of pot law

Health Canada is asking the Ontario Court of Appeal to suspend a lower court ruling released over five months ago ordering the federal government to provide a legal source of pot for people with medical exemptions, reported a CanWest News Service story printed June 17 in the Montreal Gazette and the Ottawa Citizen. Toronto lawyer Alan Young, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School who represents two of the eight people who successfully challenged the regulations, has accused Health Canada of trying to “weasel out” of its obligations. “They are trying to stop the clock from ticking as opposed to helping sick people,” he added.

Judicial appointments not political in Canada

Few expect a political slant when the prime minister names another Supreme Court justice to replace the retiring Charles Gonthier, reported Canadian Press in a story picked up June 17 by several papers across Canada including The London Free Press. “In the United States you have Republican presidents and Democrats who really try to mold the court in a particular direction,” said Patrick Monahan, associate dean at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “Our appointment process has been much more driven by linguistic and regional differences than by a political agenda. The appointments Mr. Chrétien has made have not been political.”

Retiring judge a ‘modest judicial ego’

Jamie Cameron, professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, commented in a Globe and Mail story June 18 on the legacy of Mr. Justice Charles Gonthier, who is retiring from the Supreme Court of Canada. “Justice Gonthier’s more modest judicial ego made him more willing to go along with the majority,” said Cameron. “He did not seek out a leadership role on the court. He doesn’t ever seem to have had that burning ambition some other judges have had to make a mark.”