⚖️ Fight power with power

To: Hearsay Readers

There’s a great ChatGPT trend circulating on Twitter — ask for an image, then keep prompting the AI to make it more exaggerated. My favourite is the smug Twitter poster who keeps getting more and more smug, but here’s my on-topic contribution:

— Dylan Gibbs

TODAY’S DOCKET

  • Federalism: Alberta reveals measures to fight back against clean electricity rules

  • Open court: No access to statistical information about court delays

  • Round up: Misappropriating foster child benefits, improper heritage designations, failed anti-SLAPP against teacher accused of discriminatory conduct

FEDERALISM

Alberta reveals first sovereignty measures

Power plant set in the mountains with wind turbines behind it

As expected, Alberta invoked the Sovereignty Act yesterday. The motion tabled by the government asserts Canada’s proposed Clean Electricity Regulations are unconstitutional and harmful to Albertans. And the government is pitching a few responses to that affront.

  • “To the extent legally permissible”, provincial bodies will treat the Clean Electricity Regulations as illegitimate — Alberta won’t lift a finger to implement or enforce the federal rules. The regulations don’t appear to ask for Alberta’s help, but now Ottawa knows not to even think about it.

  • The province is contemplating changes to its electrical system — including the possibility of creating a government-controlled power company.

  • Plus, Alberta plans to fight the regulations in court (how dull and traditional).

The second measure is the juiciest. Smith says the province can use a Crown corporation to continue running the same high-emission power plants that would get private companies in trouble under the Clean Electricity Regulations.

Some people might argue that’s possible, but it sure seems risky. A court could very well conclude the Clean Electricity Regulations bind the provincial Crown just as much as anyone else. Wouldn’t it suck to create a public power company just to be told it has to follow the same rules?

Scene from Captain Phillips with caption: "Look at me, I'm the power generator now"

OPEN COURTS

No obligation to release statistical information about court proceedings

Courthouse with locked database on front steps

A lawyer wanted statistical information to evaluate civil trial delays, but Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice shut him down.

The lawyer’s argument was that the open court principle obligates the court to provide public access to its records management database. The Court said the open court principle doesn’t go that far. Anyone can access individual files and compile statistical data themselves — but the government doesn’t have any obligation to aggregate bulk data or make reports for the public:

The applicant’s complaint is not that he has been denied the ability to attend a court hearing or to view or copy a court document. Instead, he complains that [Ontario] has failed to aggregate, sort and categorize bulk data for the purposes of generating one or more reports that can then be provided to him. [T]he applicant’s demand is a bridge too far.

The lawyer’s previous conduct probably didn’t do him any favours. The court gave him the data he wanted in response to an earlier (more narrow) request. He wasn’t supposed to use that data without seeking approval, but he went ahead and posted it on his website.

HEARSAY ROUNDUP

Canadiana

👶 Alberta is the third province to be sued for allegedly misappropriating a federal benefit intended for foster children. A proposed class action alleges Alberta treated the benefit payments as general revenue instead of distributing the money directly to intended recipients. Saskatchewan is facing a similar lawsuit, Manitoba was held liable for the same conduct last year, and the lawyer representing plaintiffs in Alberta also expects to sue British Columbia.

🏡 The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia criticized Halifax for designating a building as a heritage property through a biased and unfair process. Dalhousie University bought a residence located on its campus and planned to tear it down — the building is filled with mould and asbestos. A group of concerned residents prompted Halifax to intervene in the demolition and designate the building as a heritage property. The Court said the responsible decision makers proceeded with a closed mind, didn’t give Dalhousie a fair chance to participate, and ultimately reached an unreasonable conclusion.

📢 A defamation lawsuit against a school board in Waterloo and its former chair can proceed to trial. Last year, Carolyn Burjoski attended a school board meeting and shared her concern about books with transgender characters. Board chair Scott Piatkowski kicked her out of the meeting, then told the media Burjoski had been questioning the right of trans people to exist. Burjoski sued for defamation. The board argued Burjoski’s lawsuit was an illegitimate SLAPP suit, but the Superior Court of Justice disagreed. The Court said Burjoski’s claim has “substantial merit” and it doesn’t seem like Piatkowski or the Board have a viable defence.

SHARE HEARSAY

Don’t keep us a secret. Get your friends to sign up and you’ll be rewarded. You can find your custom referral link in the email version of Hearsay.

Referral rewards include coffee, sticker pack, t-shirt, book, crewneck, and a $500 prepaid credit card