News & Publications

Revamping the Law of Prior Consistent Statements: R. v. Khan

Anna Wong

An evidence revolution has been afoot for some years with the gradual ascendancy of a
principled approach to admissibility in favour of the traditional rules-and-exceptions approach.

Marking the latest milestone in the revolution is the new analytical framework for admitting
prior consistent statements articulated by Justice David Doherty in R. v. Khan.

PDF IconRevamping the Law of Prior Consistent Statements: R. v. Khan
Toronto Law Journal – May 2017

Charitable pledges: Are they enforceable?

Anna Wong

Charitable giving has a long and honourable tradition, as the names of many university buildings and hospital wings attest. Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management is a tribute to its namesake, whose family has donated over $27 million to the university. Earlier this year, the main campus of Toronto Ease General was rechristened Michael Garron Hospital after the Garrons donated $50 million.

PDF IconCharitable pledges: Are they enforceable?
The Lawyer’s Daily – May 23, 2017

Dismantling the Roadblocks to Judicial Diversity

Anna Wong

Over a century ago, without his knowing it, legendary jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes spawned the case for judicial diversity in ten words: “the life of the law is not logic, but experience.” Bursting from these words is a truth we have known all along. Legal issues often pose uneasy choices. In choosing whose stories to believe and which principles to prioritize, a judge draws on not only legal precedents, but also personal experiences, values and beliefs.

PDF IconDismantling the Roadblocks to Judicial Diversity
Slaw – February 21, 2017

Court Approves Settlement with Bell Mobility Inc.

On June 6, 2016, Justice Veale approved the settlement agreement entered into between the class representatives and Bell Mobility Inc., and approved Class Counsel’s fees. Please read the Notice of Court Approval of Settlement in Anderson et al. v. Bell Mobility Inc. below as your rights may be affected. Please also read Justice Veale’s Order dated June 6, 2016, which can be found below.

PDF IconNotice of Court Approval of Settlement
Justice Veale’s Order

CBC News: N.W.T. judge approves $1M Bell Mobility 911 settlement

‘You’ve done a great service to Northerners to bring this matter forward,’ judge tells plaintiffs

CBC News Posted: Jun 06, 2016

An N.W.T. judge has approved a $1 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against Bell Mobility for billing Northern customers for a 911 service that doesn’t exist.

PDF IconCBC News article

Court Examines Duty to Defend Parents of Alleged Bully

Anna Wong

One in three adolescent students in Canada have been bullied recently. Physical fighting has increased since 2002, with 21 per cent of grade six boys reported participating in a fight in the past 12 months back then, compared with 24 per cent in 2010. With the growing popularity of social media, cyber-bullying has also been on the rise.

PDF IconCourt Examines Duty to Defend Parents of Alleged Bully
The Lawyers Weekly – March 25, 2016

Lifting the Corporate Veil a Rare Occurrence

Anna Wong

Corporate law is by and large built on a legal fiction: the fiction of the corporation as an entity separate from its shareholders, directors and officers. This conferral of separate identity allows corporations to operate as people by owning properties, entering into contracts, suing and being sued.

PDF IconLifting the Corporate Veil a Rare Occurrence
The Lawyers Weekly – March 11, 2016

Driving Away From Bankruptcy: License Suspensions Attracts Paramountcy Scrutiny

Zachary Silverberg

Drivers whose licenses have been suspended due to unpaid judgment debts arising from motor vehicle accidents, who go on to file for bankruptcy after the judgment, may have their licenses reinstated after their discharge from bankruptcy.

Legislative and Constitutional Background

Section 198 of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) mandates that the driver’s license of every person who fails to satisfy a judgment debt occasioned by a motor vehicle accident, shall be suspended. The HTA also specifically precludes the discharge of these judgment debts by way of discharge in bankruptcy.

As a result of this section of the HTA, a driver would be unable to have his licence’s suspension lifted despite declaring and being discharged from bankruptcy.

The federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) is premised on providing people who are discharged from bankruptcy the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves financially. Therefore, all of a discharged bankrupt’s past indebtedness must be forgiven without future burdens stemming from that debt.

The federal and provincial governments of Canada are mandated exclusive and separate spheres of power by sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867. Bankruptcy and Insolvency is explicitly defined by the Constitution as a federal head of power whereas Licensing is provincial.

As the result of s.198, the provincial HTA and the federal BIA appear to be in conflict and therefore ought to attract scrutiny based on the constitutional law doctrine of federal paramountcy.[1]

Alberta (Attorney General) v. Moloney

On November 13, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada came out with their decision in Alberta (Attorney General) v. Moloney.[2]

In Moloney, a challenge was brought against s.102(2) of the Alberta Traffic Safety Act (the Albertan equivalent of s.198 of the HTA) premised on the doctrine of federal paramountcy.

Moloney argued that the Albertan legislation frustrated the purpose of the federal BIA and as a result ought to be rendered inoperable to the extent that the provisions conflict. He submitted that s.102 of Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act imperils the bankrupt’s ability to rehabilitate by creating a new class of debt that survives bankruptcy. This class of debt was not intended by parliament to survive bankruptcy or else it would have been expressly provided for in the BIA.

One purpose of the BIA is to rehabilitate the debtor, as provided in s.178(2) of the BIA. This was laid out by Gascon J. (for the majority) at paragraph 83 of his decision:

The rehabilitative purpose of s. 178(2) is not meant to give debtors a fresh start in all aspects of their lives. Bankruptcy does not purport to erase all the consequences of a bankrupt’s past conduct. However, by ensuring that all provable claims are treated as part of the bankruptcy regime, the BIA gives debtors an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves financially. While this does not amount to erasing all regulatory consequences of their past conduct, it is certainly meant to free them from the financial burden of past indebtedness.

At paragraph 90, Gascon J. concludes that “the province cannot withhold the respondent’s driving privileges on the basis of an unsatisfied but discharged judgment debt.”

The Supreme Court held that the s.102(2) of the Alberta Traffic Safety Act,[3] was inoperable to the extent that it is used to enforce a debt discharged in bankruptcy. It was beyond Alberta’s constitutional authority to interfere with the federal parliament’s discretion with regard to classes of debts that survive bankruptcy.

[1] This doctrine of constitutional law provides that when federal and provincial laws are in conflict with each other, the federal law prevails and the provincial law is rendered inoperable to the extent that it conflicts with the federal law.
[2] 2015 SCC 51.
[3] R.S.A. 2000, c. T─6.