⚖️ Explicit content

Censorship or protecting children? Plus the major conflict caused by a lawyer working too closely with their spouse, a rocky patch for the Trans Mountain pipeline, and another First Nation annuity lawsuit.

Finally some good news for Elon Musk — the federal government is ramping up the transition to electric vehicles. Canada is expected to announce an Electric Vehicle Availability Standard this week, which will force auto manufacturers to sell nothing but zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

If you want to get ahead of the game and buy an EV on the cheap, try this one trick Big Auto doesn’t want you to know:

— Dylan Gibbs

TODAY’S DOCKET INCLUDES

  • House Committee set to review explicit online content legislation

  • Mixing business with personal lands a lawyer in hot water

  • Trouble for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

  • Another First Nation annuity lawsuit

INTERNET REGULATION

Explicit online content law passes second reading

Child at computer shocked by what he sees

Bill S-210 requires every organization that “makes available sexually explicit material on the Internet to a young person” to verify the age of its web visitors using government-approved methods. Last week, the House of Commons voted to send it to the Public Safety Committee for further study.

It’s tough to vote against an “An Act To Restrict Young Persons' Online Access To Sexually Explicit Material”, but the vote at second reading was split 189-133. The bill has attracted significant opposition because of concerns about censorship and privacy.

  • As drafted, the law seems to require age verification for websites that only incidentally make explicit content available — like Google. The law might end up putting all sorts of harmless content behind a verification wall.

  • The law also gives the government sweeping powers to shut down websites for non-compliance, including by restricting access to ordinary, non-explicit, content.

  • And though the law doesn’t spell out how age verification would need to be accomplished, some think an effective system would almost certainly require facial recognition.

So, how do you feel about having a selfie attached to each search in your history?

SNL scene in courtroom. Text: "To prove he was home alone, I would like to present my client's internet search history from that evening." Defendant: "I'd rather just confess to the murder."

SNL/nbc

HEARSAY ROUNDUP

Canadiana

👩‍⚖️ There’s a new Associate Chief Justice at the Tax Court. The Prime Minister appointed the Honourable Anick Pelletier to the position on Friday. ACJ Pelletier joined the Court just last year.

🪨 The long overdue Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is in the home stretch — but it’s a rocky one. Trans Mountain Corp. says it will face catastrophic delays unless the Canada Energy Regulator lets it use a different type of pipe for a firmer-than-expected stretch of terrain in B.C. The regulator already rejected the proposed change, but Trans Mountain Corp. is taking another kick at the can. The government-owned corporation says the consequences of rejecting the proposed change are more severe than it realized when it first made the request.

⛺️ Despite cooling temperatures and the approaching holiday season, it’s still all the rage to clear out homeless encampments. Police in Edmonton planned to shut down an encampment on public property today, but a judge halted that effort on Friday. For now, the sweep is only paused until later today. The Court needed time to rule on an interim injunction application made by the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights. If granted, the interim injunction would protect the encampment until a full injunction hearing takes place in January.

💵 More First Nations are suing Canada for not increasing annual annuity payments. A proposed class action filed last week alleges the government needs to increase payments made to Manitoba First Nations under Treaty 5. The treaty grants an annuity of $5 per person — an amount that hasn’t been adjusted since 1875. The claim resembles one from Ontario that was recently argued at the Supreme Court of Canada and a similar class action related to Treaty 1.

Beyond the border

🤐 Jimmy Lai’s trial kicked off today in Hong Kong. The 76-year-old newspaper founder is facing national security offences for his connection to pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020. The protests didn’t sit well with the Chinese government. Lai’s prosecution has been heavily criticized by human rights organizations and Western democracies. He faces life in prison if convicted.

⛪️ Cardinal Angelo Becciu was the first cardinal to face a trial in the Vatican court — and now he’s the first cardinal convicted after trial. He was sentenced to five and a half years in jail for embezzlement.

ETHICS

Lawyer’s conflict with expert firm leads to mistrial

Lawyer and doctor hold hands in courtroom while judge looks on

A trial about a car accident turned into a train wreck for the plaintiff’s counsel. The judge ordered a mistrial because of a “shocking conflict of interest” between the law firm representing the plaintiff (Masgras Professional Corporation) and their proposed expert witnesses.

  • The plaintiff’s law firm hired experts through Meditecs, a company that provides independent medical examinations. The issue is that the head of the law firm (Georgina Masgras) is married to the owner of Meditecs (Mr. Irshidat).

  • Ms. Masgras’s firm sent the plaintiff a letter explaining the apparent conflict of interest, but the plaintiff never responded to confirm it was okay. The firm took his silence as acceptance.

  • Making things worse, the judge found that Meditecs doubled the fees charged by the expert doctor it hired and passed that marked-up cost on to the plaintiff.

All of that left Regional Senior Judge Edwards pretty unimpressed — especially since this isn’t the first time the conflict between Ms. Masgras and Meditecs has attracted scrutiny. He granted a mistrial, removed Ms. Masgras’s firm as lawyers for the plaintiff, and indicated that he might hold Ms. Masgras personally responsible for the costs of the mistrial.

To allow plaintiff’s counsel to continue to act for [the plaintiff] in a situation where he had never consented to the conflict of interest between Masgras, Meditecs and Mr. Irshidat would, in my view, fundamentally reflect a lack of concern as it relates to the obligation that Ms. Masgras and the Masgras law firm had to their client, both as a fiduciary and as a solicitor. The duty of loyalty and the duty of candor were completely ignored by Ms. Masgras. The court cannot countenance such conduct. To do so would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

Steve Harvey Cringe GIF by ABC Network

abc/Giphy

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