Shiozaki v Aboriginal Mother Centre Society and another, 2020 BCHRT 10

Ms. Shiozaki has no reasonable prospect of proving discrimination against non-Aboriginals working for the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society, therefore the complaint is dismissed.

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Ms. Shiozaki worked for the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society [“Society”] for about three months before being placed on administrative leave and eventually fired. She identified as “Japanese in origin”. Ms. Shiozaki alleged the President of the Society’s Board of Directors held discriminatory attitudes towards non-Aboriginal people and thought that only Aboriginal people should be working for the Society. She said her race, ancestry, and colour, as well as disability were factors in her negative treatment by the Respondents. The Society denied discriminating. They say that they never treated Ms. Shiozaki adversely because of characteristics protected by the Human Rights Code. Her employment was terminated because she committed fraud and breach of trust and bullied other employees.

The decision addressed three issues: 1) Ms. Shiozaki’s request for further document disclosure; 2) the Respondents’ application for dismissal; and 3) Ms. Shiozaki’s application for costs arising out of what she argues was improper conduct by the Respondents in the course of this complaint.

Ms. Shiozaki said the Respondents failed to comply with an earlier Tribunal order respecting seven categories of documents. The Respondents produced all documents ordered by the Tribunal. They were not required to create and produce affidavits about issues in contention, nor were they required to disclose documents protected by solicitor-client privilege. Therefore Ms. Shiozaki’s request for further orders respecting disclosure was denied.

There was no evidence to suggest that, generally speaking, the Society was an organization that favoured the interests of its Aboriginal staff. Because she felt she had been treated unfairly, her race must have been a part of that. Further, because she was on medical leave when a number of adverse decisions were made, that must have amounted to discrimination based on disability. This revealed a deep misunderstanding about discrimination and the context of Aboriginal people in Canada. This extended to the functioning of the Society itself, where Ms. Shiozaki argued the Society was engaging in discrimination by only providing services to Aboriginal mothers. The argument is further belied by the fact that the person hired to replace Ms. Shiozaki was not Aboriginal. Any connection between the Respondent’s conduct and Ms. Shiozaki’s protected characteristics was purely conjecture. The Respondent’s conduct was supported by sworn affidavits and documentary evidence. This complaint had no reasonable prospect of success and therefore dismissed.

Ms. Shiozaki argued that the Respondents engaged in improper conduct by using documents they obtained in the course of this complaint to fight her application for EI benefits. As the documents were all in the Society’s possession independently of this process, the Society was entitled to use them in other proceedings. The two pieces of information Ms. Shiozaki argued the Society had acted improperly on were not confidential to this process and therefore, there was no evidence the Respondents acted improperly in the course of this complaint and the application for costs was denied.

R c Dubé, 2019 QCCQ 7985

After interpreting the new provisions that codify the consideration of Gladue principles at bail, specifically s 493.2(a) of the Criminal Code, the Court found no basis for detention of the accused if supervisory measures are established.

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The accused, Mr. Dubé, is an Aboriginal person and a member of the Opitciwan Atikamekw community. He is charged with a number of offenses, but he undertakes to respect all the conditions that the Court may impose. The prosecution objected mainly on the ground of the substantial likelihood that he would not comply with any potential conditions, as had been demonstrated by numerous past breaches. The accused has regularly found himself before the courts for assaults, threats, mischief, and thefts. There are about 20 breaches of conditions related to recognizances or probation orders and he has had several stays in prison.

The Court considered the new provisions of the Criminal Code that came into force concerning the principle of restraint, s 493.1, and the particular attention that must be paid to Aboriginal accused who are overrepresented in the prison system, s 493.2. Section 11(e) of the Charter enshrines the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause. Release is to be favoured at the earliest reasonable opportunity and on the least onerous grounds (R v Antic, 2017 SCC 27). The Supreme Court of Canada [“SCC”] examined the principles governing interim release and noted that nearly half of the individuals in provincial jails are accused persons in pre-trial custody, where the conditions are dire; Indigenous individuals are overrepresented in the remand population, accounting for approximately one quarter of all adult admissions; such a situation can have serious detrimental impacts on an accused person’s ability to raise a defence in addition to proving costly for society; and therefore, pre-trial detention is a measure of last resort (R v Myers, 2019 SCC 18).

The SCC pointed out the recurring problem of the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the prison system. Based on section 718.1(e), the Court proposed a special approach to sentencing in light of the particular circumstances of these offenders whose lives are far removed from the experience of most Canadians. Judges were encouraged to take judicial notice of the broad systemic and background factors affecting Aboriginal people generally (R v Gladue, [1999] 2 CNLR 252; R v Ipeelee, [2012] 2 CNLR 218).

The Gladue factors, with the necessary adaptations, are applicable to the hearing on interim release (R v Hope, 2016 ONCA 648). This Court places the accused’s lengthy criminal history with respect to breaches in the above context. The accused’s release plan with various supervisory measures put in place, while imperfect, makes sense given this Aboriginal context.

Note: French translation of R c Dubé, 2019 QCCQ 7985 found here.

R v Matchee, 2019 ABCA 251

There were errors of law present in the sentencing judge’s assessment of the offender’s Gladue factors and moral blameworthiness. The sentence has been reassessed.

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Mr. Matchee appealed his seven-year custodial sentence on the basis that the sentencing judge erred by not giving effect to Gladue factors. The sentencing judge’s desire to avoid the appearance of a “race-based discount” was demonstrated by an error of law that Gladue factors do not apply to serious offences – Gladue factors apply to all offences. There was a failure to recognize a connection between the offender’s mother and grandmother’s attendance at residential schools and his current circumstances. In turn, Mr. Matchee’s mother’s substance abuse led to his eventual placement in foster care and abuses suffered there during the first 10 years of his life. The sentencing judge made an error to deny the link. Lastly, the view of any community on what is an appropriate sentence is not an animating principle of sentencing law in Canada – to the extent these comments impacted the sentence, this was an error. Due to these reasons, sentencing must be assessed again.

The harm to society in the undermining of people’s security and safety in their homes, as well as the harm to the victim, is significant in assessing the gravity of the offence. Mr. Matchee had many opportunities to leave but chose not to. He was on probation at the time of the offense and has a long-related record. The pre-sentencing report indicated a failure to take responsibility for his actions or has not taken any positive steps to try to address the underlying issues that have been identified. The factors identified above, in particular the lack of any stable home until 10 years of age, sexual and physical abuse, no meaningful connection with his mother or father, an interrupted connection with his Aboriginal culture, lack of education and employment, diminish his blameworthiness for the current offences.

Taking into account the errors in the application of Gladue factors and the inadequate assessment of Mr. Matchee’s moral blameworthiness, a fit sentence for this offender and these offences is a period of six years incarceration. The other sentences and ancillary orders are unchanged. The net sentence, after the deduction of three years 7.5 months credit for pre-sentence custody, is two years 4.5 months.

 

R v Georgekish, 2019 QCCQ 2341

After weighing the sentencing principles with information provided by a Pre-Sentence Report and a Gladue Report, it was determined that deterrence and denunciation should heavily shape a fit sentence due to the gravity of the offence.

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The offender was intercepted by police on the highway in possession of a large quantity of cocaine she was sent to purchase with money from her sister, before she got back to her home community where she intended to sell it. The offender plead guilty and at the time of the offence, she only had a few prior convictions. She is a member of the Cree Nation and a mother of six children. The Court ordered a Gladue Report to be written in which it was determined that both her parents attended residential schools, and was the victim of years of neglect, violence and abuse. The offender suffered with addictions throughout her life starting at a young age, and she was placed in a youth protection program for multiple years away from her family. She had lost a child the year prior to the offence and had not received any grievance support or services.

The Court considered multiple aggravating factors such as the quantity of drugs the accused had in possession, the nature of the drugs, the risk of reoffending, past convictions, the lack of empathy and to take responsibility, but also the vulnerability of the community where the drugs were to be sold. The Court also considered the mitigating circumstances such as the guilty plea, the offender’s collaboration with the police, the crime being one transaction, and the historical and systemic factors as an Aboriginal offender. With these considerations in mind, the Court sentenced the offender to a 20-month detention sentence and a 3-year supervised probation.

Peepeetch v R, 2019 SKQB 132

Application granted for a publicly-funded Gladue report. A Gladue report, however, is not required on every occasion on which an Indigenous offender is being sentenced and a full Gladue report is not the only possible or appropriate source of such information.

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The applicant was convicted after a trial on charges of impaired driving and refusing to provide a breath sample. During the trial, he also pled guilty to a charge of possession of brass knuckles, a prohibited weapon. Following the trial, sentencing was adjourned so that a Pre-Sentence Report [PSR] could be prepared. Since the applicant is of Aboriginal heritage, the court directed that the report should contain information, such as Gladue factors (R v Gladue, [1999] 2 CNLR 252; R v Ipeelee, [2012] 2 CNLR 218), particular to Mr. Peepeetch’s circumstances as the Gladue analysis is mandated by the Criminal Code. The applicant’s counsel submitted an application for a publicly-funded Gladue report as the applicant did not have the resources to cover the costs himself.

It was determined that when evaluating whether a publicly-funded Gladue report should be ordered, the following parameters must be met: i) the assistance of the Gladue report must be essential to the judge discharging their judicial function in the case at hand; and (ii) the authority to order for the preparation of Gladue reports should be used sparingly and with caution, in response to specific and exceptional circumstances (Ontario v Criminal Lawyers’ Association of Ontario, 2013 SCC 43; R v Sand, 2019 SKQB 18). Such circumstances exist where a PSR prepared by a probation officer is not capable of providing the information necessary to conduct the proper analysis under ss. 718.2(e), and there is no other effective method of obtaining the necessary information and bringing it before the court in a timely fashion.

When deciding if a publicly-funded Gladue report was appropriate in this case, the court considered a number of factors including the nature of the analysis called for by ss 718.2(e), the sufficiency of the information provided in the current PSR, and if that report is lacking the availability and likely effectiveness of other measures that may be taken to address the deficiencies. Further, the court decided that a Gladue report is not required on every occasion on which an Indigenous offender is being sentenced and a full Gladue report is not the only possible, nor the only appropriate source of such information. Whether or not such a report is required is based on the context of the situation. It is the duty of the sentencing judge to ensure that the information they receive is relevant and necessary for such analysis. Overall, it was determined that the information contained in the PSR report was not sufficient for the court to carry out its judicial function in sentencing the applicant and thus, a publicly-funded Gladue report was ordered.

R v McGinn, 2019 ONSC 4499

Joint submission for sentencing granted. After considering the Gladue report and at the offender’s request, part of the sentence will be spent in the penitentiary to take advantage of programming specific to Aboriginal offenders.

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After a search of his vehicle, the offender was arrested for drugs and weapons offences. The nature of the drugs involved in this case, are highly addictive substances and this was an aggravating factor. The offender also had a lengthy criminal record, which is reflective of an individual with a substance abuse problem.

The mitigating factors included a guilty plea, as well he expressed insight into his problems. Drug and alcohol abuse, as well as suicide and mistreatment within his family were present in his experiences as a child. His childhood and adolescence were traumatic for reasons that were not of his making. The drug abuse that he fell into has contributed to his involvement within the criminal justice system. The offender recognized that drug addiction had led him down a bad path. His paternal grandparents remain supportive of him and are willing to have him live with them on his release from jail.

The offender’s Aboriginal background no doubt had an impact on him but he appears to have benefitted from involvement in programs for Aboriginal offenders while in custody. The joint submission was accepted, modified slightly to accord with the offender’s request to be housed in the penitentiary to take advantage of programming. The offender was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail, less days spent in presentence custody.

R v Boysis, 2019 ABQB 437

An Indigenous man may have propensity for recidivist violence, but the Gladue factors support a reduced moral culpability.

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The accused was convicted by a jury for manslaughter and aggravated assault. The accused has a criminal record which included a prior conviction for manslaughter and other crimes of violence. A high risk of violent recidivism is present which requires intensive supervision and active management if he is to be released in the community. Concerns about the accused’s potential for recidivist violence and the safety of the public must be borne in mind during the proportionality analysis.

The accused is an Indigenous male of Cree descent and the Gladue factors in this case point to impacts of intergenerational trauma from the accused’s mother and maternal grandmother’s residential school experience. The impacts include alcohol and drug abuse, violence, low educational achievement, criminal involvement, loss of language, culture, and traditions. Gang activity is common in the accused’s home community, as well as family violence, extended periods of poverty and homelessness, childhood neglect, chronic unemployment, low income, suicide among immediate family members, and physical and sexual abuse.

The accused was remorseful and had made efforts to disengage from the previous gang connections and lifestyle. He also understands he needs help with his emotional and mental wellness. The reduced moral culpability played a significant role in determining a fit and proper sentence.

Taking into account all the circumstances, including the aggravating and mitigating factors, the accused’s reduced moral culpability, the range of sentence indicated by the authorities and the principles of sentencing set out in the Criminal Code, a fit and appropriate sentence for the manslaughter conviction is 9 years and aggravated assault is 4 years.

R v Newborn, 2019 ABCA 123

Appeal dismissed. An accused is entitled to a fairly chosen representative jury, not to one with a particular composition. As well, the jury is entitled to have competing evidence on a critical issue before them.

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The Appellant was charged with murder for physically beating a man so severely that he died from the injuries two days later. The offence occurred on a train in front of other passengers, and was recorded by security cameras. The Appellant argued that the Crown could not prove the intent necessary for murder as the accused had a limited intellectual capacity with an IQ of 59 and a moderate cognitive impairment. The Appellant also challenged the jury selection process arguing that his right to a trial by an independent and impartial jury selection under s 11 (d) and (f) of the Charter had been violated, arguing that s 4(h)(i) of the Jury Act excludes persons who have been convicted of a criminal offence. This according to the Appellant is unconstitutional because it disproportionately excluded Aboriginal persons.

An accused is entitled to a fairly chosen representative jury, not to one with a particular composition (R v Kokopenance, 2015 SCC 28). The focus is on the process to select the jury, which must include the delivery of notices to citizens randomly selected from broadly based sources and the deliberate or systemic exclusion of segments of the population is not acceptable. Some limits on jury eligibility, however, are permissible.

It was concluded that the Appellant did not offer any satisfactory rational while his expert witness opinion would be admissible and beneficial to the jury, but the Crown’s rebuttal evidence on the same topic would not. While the Crown and defence experts approached the issue from slightly different perspectives, that does not reflect any error. Neither the Crown nor the defence is required to approach an issue in the way the other side frames it (R v DD, 2000 SCC 43). All of the evidence was relevant and admissible, despite its different assumptions and approaches. ­­The jury was given acceptable instructions regarding expert evidence from the trial judge.

Taseko Mines Limited v Tsilhqot’in National Government, 2019 BCSC 1507

Interlocutory injunction granted in favour of the Tsilhqot’in Nation against Taseko Mines Limited work permit, on the basis that it infringes their Aboriginal rights.

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Taseko Mines Limited [“Taseko”] applied to prohibit members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation [“Tsilhqot’in”] from blockading its access to an area where the mining company wants to carry out an exploratory drilling program [“NOW program”]. Taseko has access pursuant to a notice of work permit [“NOW permit”] issued under the Mines Act. That application is now moot since the Court decided Tsilhqot’in’s application will succeed for an injunction prohibiting Taseko from carrying out its NOW program until the Tsilqot’in’s underlying claim to quash the NOW permit is heard.

In this matter, the issue is whether granting Tsilqot’in the interim injunction prohibiting Taseko from undertaking the NOW program would amount to a final determination of the action, which would effectively remove any benefit of proceeding to trial. The NOW permit will expire in July 2020, and if Taseko is enjoined until the action is heard, it is very unlikely the trial could be completed in time to for the 4-6 weeks required to complete the NOW program. In the Court’s view, the extension is essentially mechanical and concludes that Taseko will have until July 2022 to complete the NOW program, because Taseko can extend the NOW permit by two years under s 5(1) of the Permit Regulation.

Issues pertaining to infringement and justification, which will be the focus of the trial, are not new to the parties. Because some of the factual and legal elements have been argued before different courts for years, the discovery process will not be as time consuming as it would be if the issues were new to the parties. Based on the evidence and submissions before the Court, if the parties prioritize the matter, the timeline should be adequate to prepare for trial. The injunction is not tantamount to granting relief nor is it bound to impose a hardship removing any benefit of trial. The threshold merits test is the serious question to be tried standard (R v Canadian Broadcasting Corp, 2018 SCC 5). This threshold is relatively low as a prolonged examination of the merits is generally neither necessary nor desirable (RJR-MacDonald Inc  v Canada, [1944] 1 SCR 311).

It was determined that given the nature of the harm to the Tsilhqot’in, and the waiving of the undertaking as to damages, there was a material risk of irreparable harm to both parties. When there is a risk of both parties suffering a material risk of irreparable harm, the court should favor the status quo (AG British Columbia v Wale (1986), 9 BCLR (2d) 333 (CA)). It was determined that the NOW program would change the status quo as it would disturb the land. The Tsilhqot’in stand to suffer greater irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted. Despite that the Tsilhqot’in pursued a self-help remedy of a blockade outside the courts, the imperative of reconciliation was such that the balance of convenience was in the Tsilhqot’in’s favour.

Alton Natural Gas Storage Inc v Poulette, 2019 NSSC 94

Permanent injunction order granted. The Applicant company may make a place on its lands where protestors could gather and be seen by the public. The Respondents and their belongings are confined to this permitted area.

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Alton Natural Gas Storage Inc [“Alton”] was seeking a permanent injunction against Respondents who oppose Alton’s plan to use hydro technology to construct a vast underground cavern system. Discharge construction water would flow as a result into the Sipekne’katik River [“River”]. The Mi’kmaq people have used the waterway for over 4,000 years. The Sipekne’katik First Nation and other First Nations have significant interests in the River. Alton was proposing to construct a system of caverns in the land beside the River to store natural gas and had acquired over 40 acres of land bordering the River. To do so, Alton planned on creating the caverns by pumping the River water into salt deposits underground. Alton expressed that the brine was to be injected into a mixing channel adjacent to the River, diffused, diluted, and returned to the River at a salinity level within the natural range.

Numerous First Nations, however, expressed their fears that the brine would pollute the River. A camp was built near the front entrance to Alton’s land and its guardhouse. Alton alleged that the camp prevented the heavy equipment needed to create a pump system. Protestors continued to impede access to Alton’s property at various times after 2016. The court determined that for Alton to receive a motion for an interlocutory injunction it must show three things: 1) that its claim raises a serious issue to be determined on the hearing of the application for a final injunction; 2) it will suffer irreparable harm if there is no temporary injunction before the hearing of the application; and 3) the balance of inconvenience must favour Alton over the Respondents (RJR MacDonald v Canada, [1995] 3 SCR 199 [“RJR”]).

Alton proved title and occupation to the land along the River where the protestors were camped and had established a serious issue to be tried. Evidence of threats from Youtube was sufficient to establish irreparable harm (RJR). Assessing the balance of convenience involved “determining which of the parties will suffer the greater harm from the granting or refusing of an interlocutory injunction, pending trial” (Maxwell Properties Ltd V Mosaik Property Management Ltd, 2017 NSCA 76).  The Court expected something more than an assertion of Aboriginal or treaty rights to establish a balance of inconvenience favouring the Respondents. Therefore, the balance of convenience was determined to be with Alton.