N.S. Court Of Appeals Rules On Strang’s Attack On Free Assembly

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled a week ago on a challenge to a May 2021 injunction. Previously, the Provincial Supreme Court ruled ex-parte that Robert Strang could effectively suspend freedom of assembly on an indefinite basis.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, CCLA, applied to intervene to appeal the matter. It was granted on August 31, 2021. Due to the complexity of the issues, and other delays, it took a year for the case to be heard.

While the issue of infringing on civil rights did come up in the decision, it wasn’t front and center. Instead, there were many procedural errors cited. Still, the trio did make many findings which can be used at a later date. It wasn’t a total loss.

Strang got (rightfully) rebuked for his overreaching power grab, but it could have been done in a much more forceful way.

Overall, it’s a “meh” kind of ruling.

Issues:
1. Should the Court hear an appeal of an ex parte order?
.
2. Should the Court entertain a moot appeal?
.
3. Did the judge err by:
a) Granting an injunction order without the applicants having advanced any common law cause of action, statutory authority, or other right to a remedy;
b) Applying the test for an interlocutory injunction to the applicants’ request for a permanent injunction;
c) Stating and applying the wrong test for a quia timet injunction;
d) Granting an Injunction Order against all Nova Scotians without requiring evidence that such a remedy was needed against all Nova Scotians;
e) Granting an injunction order without considering that the order infringed the Charter rights of all Nova Scotians and that this infringement may not be justified in circumstances;
f) Accepting the evidence of a named applicant as independent expert evidence, without compliance with Rule 55 or the common law requirements for independent expert evidence.

Between the 3 Justices, there was some dissent on a few issues, although they seemed to agree for the most part. The more important things they were all in agreement on:

  • The Attorney General’s application should not have been ex parte;
  • The Court should hear this moot appeal;
  • Dr. Strang’s expert opinion was not admissible;
  • The Nova Scotia Supreme Court had the jurisdiction to issue a quia timet injunction to enjoin apprehended breaches of the Public Health Order made pursuant to the Health Protection Act;
  • The motion judge erred when he employed the test for an interlocutory injunction when he actually was asked for and did issue a permanent injunction;
  • The motion judge erred by not considering the impact on Charter rights when considering if he should issue the requested injunctive relief;
  • The motion judge erred by issuing injunctive relief that was far too broad.

There was dissent on the following:

  • The AGNS failed in its duty to provide full disclosure of information in its possession on the ex parte application;
  • The motion judge erred in law in finding the prerequisites for a permanent quia timet injunction had been made out;
  • Dr. Strang’s opinion about the risk of outdoor transmission should not have been accepted because he lacked the necessary independence and impartiality as set out in White Burgess.

In contrast to a few other recent decisions, the NSCOA decided to hear the case in spite of it being moot. The issues were of such a public interest that it should go ahead. This differed significantl from other recent cases, in which there was no inclination to do so.

(Para 47) The COA disagreed that applying for an injunction without notice was appropriate. Unless: (a) it’s impossible to give notice; or (b) giving notice may cause the event, this type of procedure shouldn’t be attempted. The Government could have given notice, but simply found it more expedient not to.

(Para 54) The Government chose a method that was designed for temporary measures, but the open-ended nature of the Order sought was effectively permanent, or semi-permanent. There was no end date provided.

(Para 56-57) The Government tries to argue that it would have met the test for a permanent injunction with the information it had the time. Additionally, the Court found that the wrong test had been applied for in seeking a permanent — as opposed to temporary — injunction.

(Para 61-63) The proper quia timet test was used. This is a test used to get injunctions based “on the fear of” something happening. Problem is, this test seems to be almost entirely subjective, and open to abuse.

(Para 64-69) The question came up as to whether or not there was even a valid cause of action. The Court decided that the likelihood of these Orders being violated, combined with the fear of disease spreading, was justifiable in and of itself.

(Para 127-140) The Order applied not only to certain people wanting to attend gatherings, but to Nova Scotians as a whole. The Court also said that this was overreaching given the overstated likelihood of infection.

(Para 141-148) The Court took issue with the fact that the original Order was obtained ex-parte, and there wasn’t enough consideration given to the Charter violations that would likely result.

(Para 149-168) Robert Strang, the Medical Officer of Health, should not have been qualified as an “expert”. Given his position, there was an inherent conflict of interest. He gave evidence in support of submissions that would validate his own demands. As such, he wasn’t separate enough.

[169] The Province incorrectly applied for a permanent ex parte injunction, but argued the test for an interim injunction described in RJR. The Province should have sought an interlocutory injunction on notice to which the RJR test properly applied. The Charter rights engaged should have been considered in the balance of convenience step of the RJR test.

[170] The Province did not establish a basis for granting either an interlocutory or permanent injunction because it did not tender admissible evidence of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 on which a finding of “high probability” of serious or irreparable harm could be grounded. The Chief Medical Officer should not have been qualified as an expert. In any event, the Order granted should not have been indefinite as to time, place and person.

(Para 200-218) The issue of mootness came up. Since the Orders have been rescinded, was there an issue to even be tried? The NSCOA decided to limit its scope to questions of law, and not revisit the factual findings from the Lower Court.

(Para 220-247) Robert Strang’s role as expert witness was questioned, given his conflict of interest. The NSCOA acknowledged that sections 8, 20, 24, 32 and 37 give him the right to issue directives based on his opinions and beliefs.

(Para 248-280) The ruling went on at length as to whether the proper test had been applied for permanent injunction. This was important, as it related to the concerns of Charter breaches. The Judges agreed that the test hadn’t been met.

(Para 281-303) The Court of Appeals took issue with the fact that the injunction would apply to everyone in the Province, and was done without the means to challenge in the first place. It was an error of due process to not allow others to confront accusers. This wasn’t limited to a select group, either.

(Para 303-328) The Panel avoided the question — for the most part — about whether these Orders were violation of Charter rights. A full analysis apparently wasn’t required. Instead, there was more of an issue with the roughshod way this was done. In short, there were more procedural than substantive problems.

(Para 329-350) Is this “virus” transmissible, and was there proper disclosure? Here, the NSCOA seemed to avoid that, and simply stated that Strang was offering full disclosure with whatever available information he had. He was able to get the injunction without introducing actual evidence. The Court didn’t seem too bothered by that.

In a sense, this was academic, as there’s currently no Order in place. Still, there’s a ruling now, and the good parts may be useful later.

SOME THOUGHTS ON THIS

It was helpful to have a (somewhat) favourable ruling from Nova Scotia. However, the problems go much deeper than just the Charter, or some Officer of Health. To date, it doesn’t seem that any lawyer has brought this forward.

1908: International Public Health Office to be created
1926: International Sanitary Convention was ratified in Paris.
1946: WHO’s Constitution was signed, and it’s scary.
1951: International Sanitary Regulations adopted by Member States.
1969: International Health Regulations (1st Edition) replaced ISR. These are legally binding on all Member States.
2005: International Health Regulations 3rd Edition of IHR were ratified.

2005 Quarantine Act, Bill C-12
2004 creation of PHAC
Health Canada’s Real History

Although probably outside the scope here, it would be nice to see the Public Health Acts themselves challenged in Court. No one ever voted for this, but the W.H.O. is able to write our laws to include medical tyranny.

If laws are put in place that aren’t written in this country, shouldn’t that be grounds to have them challenged and struck down?

Also, it’d have been preferable to fully address the issue of civil rights violations. Freedom of assembly, especially when protesting Government overreach, is an important ability to have. Without it, there’s no open society.

The NSCOA acknowledged that the May 2021 Order violated Charter rights, but didn’t really dive into it. Instead, they seemed more content to focus on the many breaches of procedure that had taken place.

The panel also seemed to go out of their way to give Strang the benefit of the doubt. He took the rights of a million people away. He needs to be held to account, not given deference.

On the bright side: there are parts of this ruling which could be the basis for future actions at a later date, such as restricting the use of ex-parte injunctions. It wasn’t a complete loss. Another Judge might quote portions of this to come to favourable conclusions elsewhere.

Guess we’ll see what happens next.

(1) https://nslegislature.ca/legc/bills/59th_1st/1st_read/b026.htm
(2) https://www.canlii.org/en/ns/laws/stat/sns-2004-c-4/latest/sns-2004-c-4.html
(3) https://www.canlii.org/en/ns/nssc/doc/2021/2021nssc170/2021nssc170.html
(4) https://www.canlii.org/en/ns/nsca/doc/2021/2021nsca65/2021nsca65.html
(5) https://www.canlii.org/en/ns/nsca/doc/2021/2021nsca65/2021nsca65.html

Following Up On The Recent Gill SLAPP Ruling, Appeal(s)

Given the developments since the costs decision was handed down against Kulvinder Gill and Ashvinder Lamba, it seems that a follow-up piece is required. Justice Stewart decided that the failed defamation lawsuit — dismissed as a SLAPP — merited full indemnity against the Plaintiffs. The price tag is about $1.1 million.

As an aside, it appears that National Post, as well as several mainstream outlets have covered the decision, and even credited this site for the research. That’s interesting. The comments pictured above are from this article.

However, it seems from the comments posted that a lot of people don’t really understand what happened, or why. Gill and Lamba weren’t in Court because someone tried to censor their speech. Instead, they sued 23 people and organisations for $12.75 million in order to silence them for their ideas, beliefs and opinions.

Gill and Lamba didn’t sue the CPSO, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, for their practices. This was aimed primarily at critics on Twitter.

Moreover, this wasn’t for some nominal amounts, designed to make a point. Gill and Lamba demanded damages to the degree that would have bankrupted people, had they been successful.

Most readers here have already gone through the Statement of Claim filed in December 2020, and the February 2022 dismissal as a SLAPP, or strategic lawsuit against public participation. If not, they are essential for background information.

Not only were the Defendants faced with losses — roughly $500,000 each, had they lost — but they were forced to pay large sums of money to lawyers to protect themselves. The above includes the amounts that the Defendants claimed.

Gill and Lamba objected, stating that there was considerable duplication in the work done, and that the costs seem absurd. They have a point. That being said, they brought this on themselves. What exactly did they think would happen?

People in the freedom community would be outraged if some “lefty” or “commie” attempted to use the courts as a weapon to silence free speech. They would call this out as censorship and of weaponizing the legal system. It would never be tolerated.

However, Gill and Lamba did exactly the same thing — or at least tried to — and many of these freedom lovers celebrate them as heroes. The lack of awareness is amazing.

Had someone sued Gill for millions of dollars because she called them an “idiot”, many would rally to her defense. Meanwhile, she did just that to Amir Attaran, and there is complete silence. $7 million for two rude tweets is ridiculous.

According to the February ruling, some Defendants who sent rude tweets to Gill had since offered public apologies to her, and she still filed suit against them. Not at all a good look.

That’s right, apologies were made, but Gill tried to bankrupt them anyway.

The point is: if someone supports free and open discourse, regardless of how testy it can be, then it has to be done consistently. We cannot selectively censor, depending on one’s beliefs.

Gill and Lamba filed Notice of Appeal in March 2022. This was against the SLAPP decision. In a nutshell, they argue that the case should not have been dismissed, but sent to Trial instead. Costs were not factored in, as the cost ruling hadn’t happened at that point.

From the National Post:

Jeff Saikaley​, Gill’s lawyer, said neither he nor his client would comment as she is appealing both this week’s decision on costs, and the ruling in February that dismissed the lawsuit.”

Taken at face value, it implies that a second Appeal is coming, with this specific to the cost award that just came down. One has to ask what kind of advice these doctors are getting. Both Appeals are doomed, and here’s an explanation of why:


Appeal #1: Dismissal As Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation


To understand why this is baseless, look up s.137.1 Courts of Justice Act for Ontario. The criteria is laid out pretty clearly.

Order to dismiss
(3) On motion by a person against whom a proceeding is brought, a judge shall, subject to subsection (4), dismiss the proceeding against the person if the person satisfies the judge that the proceeding arises from an expression made by the person that relates to a matter of public interest. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

No dismissal
(4) A judge shall not dismiss a proceeding under subsection (3) if the responding party satisfies the judge that,
(a) there are grounds to believe that,
(i) the proceeding has substantial merit, and
(ii) the moving party has no valid defence in the proceeding; and
(b) the harm likely to be or have been suffered by the responding party as a result of the moving party’s expression is sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting the proceeding to continue outweighs the public interest in protecting that expression. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

Without going too deep, this is how it works. First, the Defendant must convince the Judge that the speech or expression is of a public interest matter. This is the “threshold burden” and it’s very low.

At that point, the burden shifts to the Plaintiff, who must show:
(a) There is substantial merit;
(b) There are no valid, reasonable defenses; and
(c) The harm outweighs public interest in allowing this expression

In the February ruling, Justice Stewart ruled that the Plaintiffs consistently failed to meet this 3-part test. Keep in mind: if any part fails, then all of it fails. Simply meeting 1 or 2 parts isn’t enough.

For most of the claims, the Plaintiffs couldn’t even meet a single branch of it.

This isn’t to agree with, or justify what the Defendants had to say. The purpose of anti-SLAPP laws is to keep public discourse going by filtering out just these kinds of cases.

Here is the Factum of the Medical Post and Tristan Bronca. All the Factums (arguments) follow this basic formula: (a) expression meets threshold burden; and (b) Plaintiff can’t meet test to avoid dismissal.

There’s significant case law in that Factum, and is worth a read.

The standard for review is given by Housen v. Nikolaisen, 2002 SCC 33. It describes the standards used to review: (a) errors of fact; (b) errors of law; and (c) mixed fact and law.

Prediction: this Appeal will go nowhere.


Appeal #2: Full Indemnity Costs Against Gill/Lamba


Going back to s.137.1 of the Courts of Justice Act:

No further steps in proceeding
(5) Once a motion under this section is made, no further steps may be taken in the proceeding by any party until the motion, including any appeal of the motion, has been finally disposed of. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

No amendment to pleadings
(6) Unless a judge orders otherwise, the responding party shall not be permitted to amend his or her pleadings in the proceeding,
(a) in order to prevent or avoid an order under this section dismissing the proceeding; or
(b) if the proceeding is dismissed under this section, in order to continue the proceeding. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

These anti-SLAPP laws are quite powerful. Once a Motion is started, then the case is stayed, and nothing else can happen. This also prohibits Plaintiffs from making necessary amendments to pleadings in order to avoid a dismissal.

It also provides guidance on costs.

Costs on dismissal
(7) If a judge dismisses a proceeding under this section, the moving party is entitled to costs on the motion and in the proceeding on a full indemnity basis, unless the judge determines that such an award is not appropriate in the circumstances. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

Costs if motion to dismiss denied
(8) If a judge does not dismiss a proceeding under this section, the responding party is not entitled to costs on the motion, unless the judge determines that such an award is appropriate in the circumstances. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

Damages
(9) If, in dismissing a proceeding under this section, the judge finds that the responding party brought the proceeding in bad faith or for an improper purpose, the judge may award the moving party such damages as the judge considers appropriate. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

Full indemnity (100% of costs) is seen as the starting point in these kinds of cases. Justice Stewart is entirely within her discretion to do this.

According to Volpe v. Wong-Tam, 2022 ONSC 4071 (CanLII), paragraph 25, there’s significant, and recent history in handing down full indemnity on SLAPP cases.

(i) $164,186.76 in Canadian Thermo Workers, at para. 147,

(ii) $132,000 in Bernier v. Kinsella, 2022 ONSC 1601, at paras. 10-14,

(iii) $151,741.51 to the moving party Al Jazeera in Levant, ordered by the Court of Appeal at para. 92,

(iv) $131,076 in Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, at para. 23,

(v) $129,106.61 plus HST in Fortress Real Developments, at para. 76, and

(vi) $122,286.94 to the defendant Ms. Mohammed and $126,438.55 to the defendant Ms. Barclay in United Soils Management, at paras. 10, 17, and 43.

Granted, the $1.1 million award here is much higher than any listed above. However, with 23 people and businesses sued, it was bound to be messy.

Arguably, Gill and Lamba dodged a bullet. The Judge could easily have included damages, given how frivolous it was.


Defendants Already Going After Their Money


A source confirmed that the Defendants are already looking at ways to recoup their money. This includes attempting to seize assets, and to get Gill’s and Lamba’s wages garnished. Being public doctors, they are presumably paid through OHIP.

Apparently, the LSO, Law Society of Ontario, has also been approached. There is a compensation fund set up for victims of malpractice or misconduct committed by lawyers. If Gill goes bankrupt or otherwise refuses to pay, it may be the only recourse for some of the Defendants. Not all of them have insurance.

The current Appeal on the dismissal has little to no prospect of success. Anti-SLAPP laws were designed to weed out these kinds of cases. A separate Appeal is being considered for costs, but that would be a tough sell, considering costs are discretionary.

As for the suit with the University of Ottawa and Amir Attaran, Gill would be well advised to discontinue that before she’s faced with another anti-SLAPP Motion. The filing has zero chance of success.

When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

It would be nice to know what kind of advice they’ve been getting. These decisions aren’t something that intelligent, fully informed people typically make.

And for true supporters of free speech and open discourse: be very careful about embracing Gill and Lamba as heroes. What they tried to do is downright shocking.

KULVINDER GILL/ASHVINDER LAMBA CASE:
(1) Gill/Lamba Defamation Lawsuit December 2020
(2) Gill/Lamba Factum Of Medical Post Tristan Bronca
(3) Gill/Lamba Case Dismissed As A SLAPP
(4) Gill/Lamba Notice of Appeal and Appellants’ Certificate
(5) Gill/Lamba Appeal – Notice of Intention to Dismiss Appeal for Delay, May 12, 2022
(6) Gill/Lamba July 15 Letter To Obtain New Counsel
(7) Gill/Lamba Case Conference Brief July 29, 2022
(8) Gill/Lamba Endorsement New Counsel Cost Submissions August 3, 2022
(9) Gill/Lamba Case $1.1 Million In Costs Ordered October 31, 2022

KULVINDER GILL/ATTARAN/UOTTAWA CASE
(1) Gill-Attaran Statement Of Claim
(2) Gill Attaran Affidavit Of Service
(3) Gill-Attaran Notice Of Intent

Kulvinder Gill Hit With $1.1 Million Cost Award For Bringing SLAPP

An Ontario doctor is facing financial ruination over a decision to sue almost 2 dozen parties over pretty harmless comments. Another is looking at a significant amount as well. It’s hard to imagine why they thought taking this on would be a good idea.

On December 11, 2020, Kulvinder Gill and Ashvinder Lamba brought a $12.75 million defamation lawsuit against 23 individuals and organizations. While portions had to do with the CPSO, the bulk related to comments (mostly on Twitter) over “pandemic” measures.

Absurdly, many in the “freedom community” celebrated this lawsuit. Instead of suing, for example, the CPSO. this was aimed primarily at online critics.

Author’s note: originally, Gill and Lamba were represented by Rocco Galati. He left in the Spring of 2022, and the pair obtained new (and separate) lawyers. Jeff G. Saikaley took over for Gill, and Asher Honickman for Lamba. Gill and Lamba are now trying to get money back from their former lawyer, but more on that coming up.

Yes, Twitter is a cesspool, and people are often nasty and rude. However, that doesn’t justify attempting to bankrupt and destroy them. Cooler heads prevailed, and on February 24, 2022, the lawsuit was dismissed as a SLAPP, or a strategic lawsuit against public participation.

Ontario, like many jurisdictions, has laws on the books designed to quickly throw out claims that are brought to shut down speech and expression on issues of public concern.

Gill and Lamba served Notice of Appeal in March of 2022. That is still before the Court of Appeals, and will be addressed later on. In the meantime, there’s still the issue of costs from the Trial Court, specifically fees from the various Defendants’ lawyers.

Costs has been resolved, at least for this portion. Justice Stewart handed down a $1.1 million award, primarily against Gill, the main actor in the suit.

Why was this so high? Partly, because of the number of lawyers involved, but also because of the fairly unique way that SLAPP award are handed out.

For a bit of background on why SLAPP costs are calculated in an unusual manner, consider the sections from 137.1 of the Courts of Justice Act.

Costs on dismissal
(7) If a judge dismisses a proceeding under this section, the moving party is entitled to costs on the motion and in the proceeding on a full indemnity basis, unless the judge determines that such an award is not appropriate in the circumstances. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

Costs if motion to dismiss denied
(8) If a judge does not dismiss a proceeding under this section, the responding party is not entitled to costs on the motion, unless the judge determines that such an award is appropriate in the circumstances. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

Damages
(9) If, in dismissing a proceeding under this section, the judge finds that the responding party brought the proceeding in bad faith or for an improper purpose, the judge may award the moving party such damages as the judge considers appropriate. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

From Sections 137.1(7) through (9) we can see full indemnity (100% of costs) is the standard if the Defendants are successful in getting the suit(s) dismissed. Should they fail, the Plaintiffs aren’t automatically entitled to their costs. There’s also a provision to allow for damages if a case is ever brought in bad faith.

Two other provisions worth noting: a case is considered “stayed” until all SLAPP issues are resolved, including appeals. This means that a claim can’t be amended, nor can it be discontinued. It’s “frozen in place”, so to speak.

No further steps in proceeding
(5) Once a motion under this section is made, no further steps may be taken in the proceeding by any party until the motion, including any appeal of the motion, has been finally disposed of. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

No amendment to pleadings
(6) Unless a judge orders otherwise, the responding party shall not be permitted to amend his or her pleadings in the proceeding,
(a) in order to prevent or avoid an order under this section dismissing the proceeding; or
(b) if the proceeding is dismissed under this section, in order to continue the proceeding. 2015, c. 23, s. 3.

One thing to consider, a lawsuit can be dismissed as a SLAPP if any of the defenses are likely to succeed. This is a much lower threshold than what’s used for Summary Judgement.

Given this structure, there really isn’t a reason for Defendants not to at least attempt this procedure, if it’s applicable. Of course, it relates to topics of public interest, not private disputes.

These are the cost submissions from the various Defendants. Keep in mind, full indemnity is the default position, and of course everyone asked for it.

This probably caused panic in Gill and Lamba, with reality setting in about what they’re facing. Given that they attempted to bankrupt people over mean words, it’s unlikely any mercy would be shown.

What did they think would happen?

Obviously, attorney-client communications are confidential, but one has to wonder why Gill and Lamba attempted this lawsuit in the first place. Many people who read it could tell that this would go nowhere, and that a high cost award was very likely. Were they fully informed about the risks ahead of time?

Things would get stranger still.

Shortly after filing the Notice of Appeal, Galati, lawyer for Gill and Lamba, filed a Motion to be removed as counsel of record. He claimed to be too ill to continue. Much of the version publicly available is redacted as it contains privileged information. May 12, 2022, Justice Gillese granted it, leaving them scrambling to retain new counsel.

This came at a time when the pair were still dealing with the cost submissions. They did eventually find someone to take the Appeal, and for the cost submissions. Gill and Lamba then threw Galati under the bus, claiming that his prior cost submissions were entirely inadequate. This is very plausible, considering the $1 million (or more) at stake.

There was “case management” during the summer, with the issue of costs at the forefront. Gill and Lamba now had separate lawyers. This made sense since their interests now diverged. Lamba, a relatively minor player in this, seemed to think that a split on costs with Gill was unfair to her financially.

Keep in mind, all of this was still going on while there was an active challenge to the SLAPP ruling. It must have been stressful.

Going to the Court of Appeals might be seen as a Hail Mary, in an attempt to ward off financially crippling costs. But in the end, it will just dig them in deeper. It seems extremely unlikely the C.O.A. will help them at all. We will get to that further on.

Now, Gill is faced with a cost award of over $1 million.


Kulvinder Gill has other suit pending against University of Ottawa


On March 15, 2021, Gill filed a $7 million lawsuit against the University of Ottawa, and Amir Attaran, one of its professors. The Claim lists 2 (two) rude and insulting tweets that Attaran had made. Apparently, the University is vicariously liable, being his employer.

This idiot is a doctor in Ontario. Sort of a female version of Dr. Scott Atlas.

Looks like the flying monkeys are out today for Dr. Gill.
Research shows the Russian military intelligence (the GRU) are behind the anti-science COVID conspiracy social media.
So with love from Canada.

Are these comments worth $7 million in damages?

July 13, 2021, a Notice of Intent to Defend was filed on behalf of Attaran and the school. It doesn’t appear that anything has happened since then.

If Gill were wise, she would discontinue that case before she’s faced with another anti-SLAPP Motion. She’d presumably be on the hook for a further $50,000 to $100,000.


Gill/Lamba are taking Galati and Coomara to Court now


In an interesting turn of events, Gill and Lamba are asking a Brampton Court for nearly $5,700 from their (now former) attorneys. Given the small amount, this seems likely to be a refund for disbursements. Samantha Coomara works at the same firm, and is a junior associate.


Gill/Lamba Appeal pending, but has zero chance of success


Gill and Lamba did file a Notice of Appeal, along with their Certificate Respecting Evidence within the 30 day time limit.

Then things started happening. Or rather, not happening.

It really doesn’t help when the Appellant’s counsel suggests that the Trial Judge may have been biased in making determinations. It was raised a few times in the Notice.

Nor does it help when the Appeal itself is baseless. Anti-SLAPP laws exist to throw out suits that clearly have little to no merit. The issue isn’t who is the better expert, but whether the Defendants have the right to express themselves on certain topics. Name calling or insults alone are not actionable.

May 12, 2022, the Court of Appeals issued a notice that it was considering dismissed the Appeal for delay. Timelines are very short, and this can happen, unless proper permission to extend time is obtained. It seems that no material had been submitted by this point.

Counsel for Gill and Lamba bailed from the Appeal, claiming to have a prolonged illness, making it impossible to continue the work. In spite of that, the following happened:

  • May 25, 2022, he filed a suit in Federal Court over workers who were fired
  • May 31, 2022, he attended an Application to Strike (Action4Canada case)
  • June 28, 2022, he sued an anti-lockdown group in BC
  • July 12, 2022, he sued the Law Society of Ontario
  • August 28, 2022, he filed a Notice of Appeal in BC (Action4Canada)
  • October 12, 2022, he attended hearings for 2 Ontario cases

This is in addition to several ongoing fundraisers with groups like Action4Canada and Vaccine Choice Canada. There’s still money to be made in this.

He just wanted off the Gill case — for whatever reason — and illness was a pretext.

Gill and Lamba have new counsel for their Appeal, but the problems remain. Specifically, that they sued many parties over content that isn’t actionable. When the Appeal is eventually thrown out, they’ll be on the hook for those costs as well.

The Appeal deadlines have been extended (yet again), and it’s unclear when the materials will ever be submitted. A wise move at this point would be to discontinue, but that’s a decision the Appellants have to make. They’re digging themselves in deeper. True, they have new lawyers, but that doesn’t make the Appeal any less frivolous.

While Section 137.1(7) typically allows for full indemnity (100% costs) for successful anti-SLAPP Motions, this would apply to the Appeals of those decisions. It’s not too farfetched to see Gill and Lamba — or, primarily Gill — hit with another $200,000 to $400,000. This would be in addition to the $1.1 million that they’re already on the hook for.

As for the Defendants, who still have to deal with an Appeal: they want their pound of flesh. There won’t be any sympathy. There’s already talk about getting liens, and having garnishment done. Unless Gill has significant assets to sell, she’s looking at bankruptcy.

One has to wonder what kind of legal advice Gill and Lamba have received since 2020. Anyone with a working knowledge of anti-SLAPP legislation could have foreseen this outcome.

It would be interesting to see if a Law Society complaint gets filed, or already has been. With so much money at stake, things are going to be messy.

KULVINDER GILL/ASHVINDER LAMBA CASE:
(1) Gill/Lamba Defamation Lawsuit December 2020
(2) Gill/Lamba Case Dismissed As A SLAPP
(3) Gill/Lamba Notice of Appeal and Appellants’ Certificate
(4) Gill/Lamba Appeal – Notice of Intention to Dismiss Appeal for Delay, May 12, 2022
(5) Gill/Lamba July 15 Letter To Obtain New Counsel
(6) Gill/Lamba Case Conference Brief July 29, 2022
(7) Gill/Lamba Endorsement New Counsel Cost Submissions August 3, 2022
(8) Gill/Lamba Case $1.1 Million In Costs Ordered October 31, 2022

KULVINDER GILL/ATTARAN/UOTTAWA CASE
(1) Gill-Attaran Statement Of Claim
(2) Gill Attaran Affidavit Of Service
(3) Gill-Attaran Notice Of Intent

VACCINE CHOICE CANADA COURT DOCUMENTS:
(1) VCC – Statement Of Claim Unredacted
(2) VCC – Discontinuance Against CBC
(3) VCC – Mercer Statement Of Defense
(4) VCC – Mercer Affidavit Of Service

VACCINE CHOICE CANADA LAWSUIT (2019):
(1) VCC – Statement Of Claim, October 2019 Lawsuit

ACTION4CANADA COURT DOCUMENTS:
(1) A4C Notice of Civil Claim
(2) A4C Response October 14
(3) A4C Legal Action Update, October 14th 2021 Action4Canada
(4) A4C Notice of Application January 12
(5) A4C Notice of Application January 17
(6) A4C Affidavit Of Rebecca Hill
(7) A4C Response VIH-Providence January 17
(8) A4C Response to Application BC Ferries January 19
(9) https://action4canada.com/wp-content/uploads/Application-Record-VLC-S-S217586.pdf
(10) https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BfS_MyxA9J11WeYZmk8256G7GsWEFZ62/view
(11) Notice_of_Discontinuance_Federico_Fuoco_Fire_Productions
(12) Notice_of_Discontinuance__Amy_Muranetz_
(13) A4C Notice Of Appeal September 28 2022

CHILDREN’S HEALTH DEFENSE CANADA/ONTARIO STUDENTS:
(1) Notice Of Application — April 20, 2021, Masks On Students
(2) Schools – Rule 2.1.01 Decision
(3) Schools — Notice Of Appearance Robert Kyle
(4) Schools — Notice Of Appearance Halton Durham

POLICE ON GUARD/OFFICERS:
(1) Notice Of Application — April 20, 2021

FEDERAL VACCINE PASSPORT CHALLENGE:
(1) Statement Of Claim, Federal Workers Forced Out

Canada Firearms Act, And Other Backdoored Legislation

Most people think that substantial changes to existing legislation happen with the introduction of new Bills. While this is true, it’s not the full picture. Regulations within that area can be unilaterally changed by an Order In Council.

One such Act is the Canadian Firearms Act. Section 117 allows major changes to be made by the Governor in Council, which bypasses Parliamentary debate. In recent years, several Orders have turned gun rights on their head.

It might be fair to say that legislation covers broad outlines of what is going to happen, while regulations are the specifics of the policies.

As an example, Part “L” gives the Governor in Council power to make unilateral changes:

[For certain classes of people]
(l) regulating the storage, handling, transportation, shipping, acquisition, possession, transfer, exportation, importation, use and disposal or disposition of firearms, prohibited weapons, restricted weapons, prohibited devices, prohibited ammunition and explosive substances

[Overall]
(m) regulating the keeping, transmission and destruction of records in relation to firearms, prohibited weapons, restricted weapons, prohibited devices and prohibited ammunition;

Other sections related to ranges, clubs, gun shows, sales and transfers of restricted and prohibited weapons, among many different things.

There’s really no need to ban firearms if the laws can be rewritten in such a way that makes gun ownership impractical, if not impossible. If they cannot be imported, they cannot be purchased. If they are suddenly “prohibited” to own, they can never be transferred, sold, or passed down.

There’s nothing wrong with minor changes, or appointing bureaucrats by an Order. That’s quite fine. However, this isn’t what this piece is about.

O.I.C. 2020-0298 (May 1, 2020) suddenly turned some 1,500 models of firearms into prohibited weapons, meaning that they couldn’t be transferred ever again. There seemed to be no logic or consistency in what standards were applied in making the determinations of what qualified.

O.I.C. 2021-0599 (June 17, 2021) put in place new background check information requirements, including fuller disclosure on certain behaviours and police interactions. While the previous form asked for information about the previous 5 years, the new forms covered the applicant’s entire life.

O.I.C. 2022-0447 (April 29, 2022) changed what information had to be kept by gun stores, and was effectively a backdoor gun registry for non-restricted and non-prohibited weapons.

O.I.C. 2022-1144 (October 20, 2022) banned sales and transfers of handguns altogether. Now, it wouldn’t kick in for a few weeks, but if a transfer hadn’t at least been initiated, it would no longer be possible to do so.

For reference, Section 12 of the Export and Import Permits Act also allows the Governor in Council to make changes in regulations that wouldn’t specifically need to be approved by Parliament.

This isn’t to say that all O.I.C. are necessarily bad or intrusive. For example, various amnesties have been issued which would have prevented gun owners from becoming criminals as regulations changed.

But when laws are changed with a signature, on the pretense that certain groups of people can’t be trusted, it’s difficult to see this as anything other than spite or intentional.

Worse, given the inconsistency of how things are applied, this can’t be good faith.

  • Bill C-75 reduced the penalties for terrorism offences
  • Bill C-75 also cut criminal penalties for many child sex offences
  • Bill C-238 was defeated, which would have increased punishment if a gun was obtained in the commission of a crime
  • Bill C-5 would eliminate mandatory prison sentences for many serious gun crimes

All of the above came from the Trudeau Government.

One has to ask: what’s the goal here? Chaos? Anarchy? Disarmament? If there was a uniform hardline approach to crime, punishment, and guns, that would be much more understandable. If there was an overall permissiveness, that might be explained. Instead, we have an approach that puts the screws to law-biding gun owners. It does nothing to prevent crime from happening.

And the backdoored legislation — like the Firearms Act — permits exactly this to happen. There’s no need to ban anything when it can be regulated out of existence.

Anyhow, these are just some thoughts on the issue. We don’t really have rights if significant details can be changed with a signature, and without any referendum or democratic mandate.

(1) https://www.laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/f-11.6/FullText.html
(2) https://orders-in-council.canada.ca/
(3) https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-19/

Bill C-27: Digital Charter Implementation Act Returns, With AI Provision

Bill C-27, the Digital Charter Implementation Act (or Dee CIA), has been brought back. In the last session, this was Bill C-11.

Contrary to what many might assume, this is not about gun control. Instead, it concerns digital privacy, and the way and means that personal information will be shared.

In fact, a lot of the Bills in this current session are recycled versions of legislation that died in previously. This is no exception.

One major difference here is something that was created:

The Artificial Intelligence and Data Act

[Section 2: definitions]
artificial intelligence system means a technological system that, autonomously or partly autonomously, processes data related to human activities through the use of a genetic algorithm, a neural network, machine learning or another technique in order to generate content or make decisions, recommendations or predictions.

[Section 3] Interestingly, this Act, and the limitations, do not apply to:
(a) the Minister of National Defence;
(b) the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service;
(c) the Chief of the Communications Security Establishment; or
(d) any other person who is responsible for a federal or provincial department or agency and who is prescribed by regulation.

The legislation then gets into how the Act would be applied, and what the limitations would be. There’s a provision to prevent “biased outcomes” from being determined by artificial intelligence.

[Section 5(1)]
biased output means content that is generated, or a decision, recommendation or prediction that is made, by an artificial intelligence system and that adversely differentiates, directly or indirectly and without justification, in relation to an individual on one or more of the prohibited grounds of discrimination set out in section 3 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, or on a combination of such prohibited grounds. It does not include content, or a decision, recommendation or prediction, the purpose and effect of which are to prevent disadvantages that are likely to be suffered by, or to eliminate or reduce disadvantages that are suffered by, any group of individuals when those disadvantages would be based on or related to the prohibited grounds.

For reference, the Canadian Human Rights Act lists: “race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered”, as protected grounds

In other words, AI can be used to pander to specific groups of people. However, “noticing” things would presumably violate the law.

[Section 6] lays out a requirement to add safeguards to anonymized data, which actually a really good idea. Guess we’ll have to see what those protections are later.

[Section 11] states that anyone or group that is involved in running a high-impact system must publish information — in plain terms — how the system works, and what safety protocols are in place.

(from the Bill) High-impact system means an artificial intelligence system that meets the criteria for a high-impact system that are established in regulations. However, the regulations haven’t been established yet.

[Sections 13, 14] allows Cabinet Ministers to require the disclosure of certain records, particularly if there is the risk of “biased outcomes” in what the AI is generating.

[Section 26] lists others who may be able to access confidential information, including:
(a) the Privacy Commissioner;
(b) the Canadian Human Rights Commission;
(c) the Commissioner of Competition;
(d) the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission;
(e) any person appointed by the government of a province, or any provincial entity, with powers, duties and functions that are similar to those of the Privacy Commissioner or the Canadian Human Rights Commission;
(f) any other person or entity prescribed by regulation.

[Section 28] gives the Minister the authority to publish information about people or a group (without their consent), if it’s believed that doing so will prevent harm from coming to them. However, it’s not stated what “reasonable grounds” actually means.

[Section 29] gets into Administrative Monetary Penalties, and the stated goal of ensuring compliance with the The Artificial Intelligence and Data Act.

[Section 30] states that it’s an offence to violate Sections 6-12, as well as providing misleading information to the Minister, or anyone acting for the Minister.

[Section 36] is a backdoor provision, which exists in many pieces of legislation. It allows the Governor in Council to make regulations without the need to Parliamentary oversight.

[Sections 38-40] lay out penalties, both monetary and potential prison time, for violations of this Act. Fines can be up to $25,000,000 + 5% of revenues. Prison time can be up to 5 years (if proceeded by indictment), and 2 years less a day (if proceeded summarily).

Aside from the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act being included, this legislation is essentially just Bill C-11 from the last session of Parliament.

Consumer Privacy Protection Act

The Consumer Privacy Protection Act was the bulk of the last version of this Bill, and was in this one as well. While name appears to take privacy seriously, it’s worth noting that that Section 4 states that it doesn’t apply to:

(a) any government institution to which the Privacy Act applies;

(b) any individual in respect of personal information that the individual collects, uses or discloses solely for personal or domestic purposes;

(c) any organization in respect of personal information that the organization collects, uses or discloses solely for journalistic, artistic or literary purposes;

(d) any organization in respect of an individual’s personal information that the organization collects, uses or discloses solely for the purpose of communicating or facilitating communication with the individual in relation to their employment, business or profession; or

(e) any organization that is, under an order made under paragraph 122(2)‍(b), exempt from the application of this Act in respect of the collection, use or disclosure of personal information that occurs within a province in respect of which the order was made.

In other words, personal information can be shared with just about anyone.

[Section 8(1)] requires that organizations designate someone to be responsible for the security of this information, and that their contact information be furnished if requested.

[Sections 9-11] outline how a privacy safety management program must be established, and some considerations in setting it up.

[Section 18] lists how and when businesses can collect personal information, or disclose it, and when consent isn’t required to go through with it.

[Section 19] says that no consent or knowledge is required from the individual to share personal information with a service provider in the course of business.

[Sections 20-22] permit research to be done using customer information as data, although it’s expected that it would be anonymized. It’s also okay to do this for prospective business transactions that haven’t yet been approved.

[Sections 23-24] are about disclosure during the course of employment. This has been the norm for a long time, as companies routinely share data for things like payroll.

[Sections 25-28] says information can be shared without knowledge or consent for the purposes of disclosure to a notary, obtaining witness statements, suspected fraud, and debt collection.

[Section 35] allows information to be disclosed without the person’s knowledge or consent if it’s being done for statistical purposes, study or research, if obtaining consent is impractical.

[Section 36] gets into the disclosure of “records of historic or archival importance”, which again, can be done without knowledge or consent.

[Section 38] allows journalists, artists and people performing literary purposes to disclose information without the knowledge or consent of other parties involved.

[Sections 43, 44] mean that Government employees would be able to access personal records without the knowledge or consent of others, if done for the purpose of administering laws.

The Act then goes on at length about procedures that would be in place if these other rules were violated.

Bill C-27 would make various changes to other acts such as: the Canada Evidence Act; the Access to Information Act; the Aeronautics Act, the Competition Act; the Telecommunications Act; and the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

While it sounds great to enshrine digital privacy, there are so many exceptions written in that one reasonably has to wonder what protections are really offered.

Of course, there is a bit of a conflict of interest here. Reporters and journalists require access to information in order to do their jobs. While doxing isn’t acceptable, the ability to dig deep is essential in order to properly prepare a broadcast or newspaper.

Bill C-11, (the last version of this), didn’t get far in the last session, and it doesn’t appear to be urgent now. Who knows if this will actually pass?

(1) https://www.parl.ca/legisinfo/en/bill/43-2/c-11
(2) https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/C-11/first-reading
(3) https://www.parl.ca/legisinfo/en/bill/44-1/c-27
(4) https://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/44-1/bill/C-27/first-reading
(5) https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/h-6/page-1.html

Four Applications To Federal Travel Mandates All Struck As “Moot”

The other day, the Federal Court released its reasons for dismissing various Applications challenging air and train vaccination mandates. The ruling came from Associate Chief Justice Gagné (2022 FC 1463). The specific challenges were:

  • T-145-22: Nabil Ben Naoum
  • T-247-22: Maxime Bernier
  • T-1991-21: Shaun Rickard, Karl Harrison
  • T-168-22: Brian Peckford, Leesha Nikkanen, Ken Baigent, Drew Belobaba, Natalie Grcic, Aedan MacDonald

All of these challenges were heard together, since they cover essentially the same issues. This isn’t surprising, as it can theoretically free up other courts.

To be clear, the cases weren’t struck or dismissed based on the merits, evidence, or arguments of the case. Instead, they were struck since the orders themselves had expired. The Judge decided it wasn’t worth hearing anyway, to ward off any potential return of these restrictions.

In the ruling, it came down to 2 questions: (a) are the cases moot; and (b) if so, should they be heard anyway?

[14] The Applicants and the Respondent both agree that the applicable test on a motion for mootness is the one articulated by Justice Sopinka in Borowski v Canada (Attorney General), 1989 CanLII 123 (SCC), 1989 1 SCR 342. Unsurprisingly, they take very opposite positions on both of the two key stages as set forth in Borowski. Namely, they disagree on i) whether the issue is moot, and on ii) whether the Court should exercise its discretion to nonetheless hear the case, if it is found moot.

[15] The Respondent’s motion therefore raises the following issues:
(a) Are the issues raised by these Applications for judicial review moot; is there a live controversy?
(b) If the issues are moot, should the Court nevertheless exercise its discretion to hear the merits?

“Mootness” in the legal context means that the underlying issues have already been resolved in some way, or the circumstances have changed in a way that makes it impossible to determine. In this instance, the Federal Government argued that since the travel mandates had expired, there was no remedy to seek.

The Applicants, however, were concerned that these measures — or very similar ones — could be brought back, and it could happen at any time. They wanted this issue dealt with once and for all.

In their eyes, travel mandates were hardly “theoretical”, as they had already happened. Should the Court refuse to intervene, Ottawa would be able to reimpose them at a later date.

[20] The Applicants argue that there remains a live controversy because of statements by the Government of Canada that travel restrictions have only been “suspended”, suggesting that they may be re-implemented at any time if the COVID-19 public health situation worsens. In that sense, the Respondent’s motions would be premature. The Applicants rely on a press release issued by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, statements made by Ministers at a June 14, 2022 press conference, and in an interview that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs gave to the CBC shortly afterwards.

[21] Firstly, the hearing of these Applications for judicial review is set for five days commencing on October 31, 2022. Since the hearing of this Motion, Transport Canada has removed the requirement to wear a mask on planes and trains and repealed the last remaining IO. In my view, the situation is as likely to improve as it is to worsen by the time the hearing of these Applications on their merits is over. The Applicants’ argument is highly speculative and does not support their position that the controversy is still ongoing.

[22] Secondly, a comment made by a Minister to a journalist, taken outside its context, does not amount to a decision by that Minister and it is no more an indication of a live controversy. Even if the Minister called what occurred in June 2022 a suspension, the reality is that all IOs/MO that had contained a vaccination mandate have legally expired and none that contain such a mandate have been reissued since June.

The ruling goes on some more, with the Judge explaining why this wasn’t worth continuing, since the orders had all lapsed.

The case was ultimately thrown out for “mootness”. The Judge declined to hear the merits anyway.

And therein lies another problem with this Court. Is there really justice when a Judge can simply pick and choose which cases they want to hear, and which ones they can decline? What exactly was the remedy that they should have sought? And where?

[48] For the above reasons, these Applications will be struck as moot. The air and rail passenger vaccine mandates were repealed, as have other related public health measures. The Applicants have substantially received the remedies sought and as such, there is no live controversy to adjudicate.

[49] There is no important public interest or inconsistency in the law that would justify allocating significant judicial resources to hear these moot Applications.

[50] Finally, it is not the role of the Court to dictate or prevent future government actions. If the air and rail vaccine mandates are re-introduced in the future, they can be properly challenged and should be weighed against the reality in which they are implemented.

Apparently, the inability of millions of people to fly and exercise their Section 6 Charter rights (mobility) isn’t a concern for the Court. After all, the mandates are gone — for now. If this isn’t worth spending judicial resources on, what exactly is?

Interestingly, the Judge says it’s not the place of the Court to dictate or prevent future government actions, but suggests that the cases can be brought back again if travel mandates are reinstated.

Suppose that does happen — and that the vaccine passport does return — what’s to stop Ottawa from temporarily pulling it (again) to ward off another challenge? Perhaps this is old fashioned, but it would be nice to see the issue resolved once and for all.

The Applicants who initiated these suits are now on the hook for the costs of losing this motion. While their initial filings were compelling, letting the orders expire then doing this was a dirty trick. It’s unclear what cost scale would be used, but the parties could very well settle it on their own.

Had a Prothonotary issued this ruling, it could be reviewed under Rule 51. But this came from a Justice, so the next step would be challenging this at the Federal Court of Appeals. There has been talk of doing this, especially in light of the Associate Chief Justice refusing to hear it altogether. We will have to see if that happens in the next few weeks. There is a 30 day time limit to file notice.

For reference, the standard for review is also available online. It addresses findings of fact, law, and mixed fact and law.

(1) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2022/2022fc1463/2022fc1463.html
(2) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2022/2022fc1463/2022fc1463.pdf
(3) https://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/522361/1/document.do
(4) https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/sor-98-106/index.html
(5) https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/2002/2002scc33/2002scc33.html

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