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Steam Whistle Brewing v. Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission: Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta Applies the R. v. Comeau Doctrine in the Latest Beer Case

On June 19, 2018 Steam Whistle Brewing and Great Western Brewing scored an historic victory against the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission: Madam Justice Marriott of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench declared Alberta’s beer mark-up regime unconstitutional, and awarded the brewers over $2 million in restitution. The full decision can be read here. The decision also marks the first time a court has been called on to apply the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent statement of the law in?R v. Comeau?with respect to the proper interpretation of s. 121 of the?Constitution Act as it relates . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Aluminum & NAFTA Negotiations – a New Era of Global Trade?

Since the summer of 2017 Canada, Mexico and the United States have been negotiating with the objective of agreeing on a revised NAFTA—sometimes called NAFTA 2.0. Most observers take the view that the talks have not gone well to date. The U.S. Administration is now signaling that it wants to take a hiatus until after the Congressional mid-term negotiations in November. This, in spite of renewed pushes from Canada and the newly elected Mexican President’s calls to accelerate the talks. It seems that the parties cannot even agree on the timetable, and it has grown increasingly clear that there is . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Voluntary Associations: Courts, Mind Your Own Business. SCC: Okay.

*Update:* Since this post was written, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in?Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University,?2018 SCC 32. In short, the court upheld the law societies’ right to regulate accreditation of law schools, in the context of competing LGTBQ and religious rights.

Plus: We’re Not Done With Dunsmuir

During the playoffs, ice hockey is the delight of everyone, to paraphrase Brown J in Canada (Attorney General) v. Igloo Vikski Inc., [2016] 2 SCR 80. But who is the greatest hockey player of all time? The Hockey Writers weighed in . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Can You Hear Me Now?

It is not just cellphone mascots who desire to be heard. Many people who have matters before administrative decision makers expect to be heard; often that expectation is that they will be able to make oral submissions. In my personal experience, I find that many people believe that they can present their case better orally than in writing. The reasons may vary: they might not believe themselves capable of presenting a strong written case; they might not have the level of schooling that makes it easy for them to make written presentations; there might be language issues; or they might . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Nova Scotia’s Unfiltered Brewing Challenges Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation’s “Regulatory” Charges

Canada’s liquor control and licensing regimes remain under siege; for how much longer provincial governments will be able to enforce their antiquated monopolies over the import and sale of alcohol is anyone’s guess, but the forthcoming Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Comeau is expected to go a long way in answering this increasing controversial question.

While Comeau will be decided along Constitutional rather than regulatory lines, for administrative law practitioners the field of liquor control and licensing remains a rich source of beverage for thought.

For brewers and distillers, especially those of the “craft” or “micro” ilk, . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Canada-EU – Old Ties, New Trade Partners

For Canadian business, the threat of U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA is the biggest and most immediate challenge. Without progress that satisfies the U.S. Administration, the current NAFTA negotiations may end with the U.S. issuing a Notice of Withdrawal that starts the six month clock on formal U.S. withdrawal from the Agreement and the market uncertainty that will likely follow.

Canada can and will survive the U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA. Canada and the U.S. have deep economic ties and market integration that will result in trade between the countries continuing, but on different terms. To address the problem of dependence on . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Presenting the Bills: Who Calls the Tune?

Who gets to participate in making the rules that affect them, and to what degree? This is a fundamental question in Canada (Governor General in Council) v. Mikisew Cree First Nation, 2016 FCA 311 (“MCFN”), an appeal of a judicial review proceeding. In MCFN, the core question is whether indigenous groups in Canada entitled to a role in drafting legislation that affects their treaty rights.

This case is unique in Canadian jurisprudence. Until now, cases regarding the duty to consult have been about the obligation to consult indigenous peoples in the course of making a regulatory decision. MCFN is . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Regulation, Statutory Interpretation, and Questionable Libation

Generally speaking, products we ingest like food, beverages, drugs and nutritional supplements are subject to basic regulations so we as consumers know what we are putting into our bodies. Things like ingredients, quantity, and source come to mind as basic information that should be available on packaging, or otherwise be readily discernable when interacting with these regulated products. Unfortunately, and to the detriment of consumers and producers alike, the legislation and administrative regimes in Canada that strive to ensure that food and beverage labeling and classification is intuitive and transparent remain works in progress. Shifting consumer demands and habits, developments . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Regulatory Offences: The Duty to Cooperate, and the Right to Silence

In highly regulated fields and industries, participants are often under a statutory obligation to cooperate with the auditors, inspectors and peace officers who investigate contraventions of the applicable regulatory regime, typically comprised of an Act, Regulations and sometimes the terms of a licence. This coerced cooperation comes in many forms: from retaining and turning over records and documents, to permitting access for physical inspection, to answering probing questions. More often than not inspections occur without warning, and happen quickly before the individual or entity subject to inspection is fully able to take stock of the situation. While this element . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Stand by Me – if You Have Standing

As the old song goes, we all need somebody to lean on. However, we can’t always have somebody to stand with – or against – us. In administrative law matters, there are two aspects of standing. One is the ability of a decision making body to participate in or commence judicial review proceedings. The other, which is the focus of this article, is the ability of individuals or corporation to appear before a tribunal or in judicial review proceedings.

One of the fundamental tenets of natural justice and procedural fairness is the right to a hearing, whatever form that might . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Food & Beverage Law: An Emerging Species of the Admin Law Genus

Administrative law as a practice area sometimes gets a bad rap for being comprised of Byzantine rules of procedure (often completely unique to the specific tribunal in question), frustrating decision makers, and shifting standards of review. The name itself “admin law” is also guilty of being a little boring, and is not nearly as descriptive as other practice areas like “criminal law” or “immigration law”. To the uninitiated, administrative law is a practice area that can come across as broad, dry, and overly technical. For those that feel that way, the profession has done you a disservice.

In practice, admin . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Two Tales From Alberta

1. Be careful what you ask for…

“Maybe it’s opposite day! Maybe all these X’s mean that my answers are correct! Maybe your “A” is really an “F”! That must be it! I win the bet!”

– Calvin, Calvin & Hobbes

To me, the suggestion that the topic of the Standard of Review is the great Canadian passion, at least for practitioners of administrative law, is firmly tongue in cheek. While I have acknowledged that the standard of review is at the heart of judicial review, there is so much more to administrative law. I would suggest that . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law