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Government of Canada and public service unions announce compensation for federal employees impacted

Canada's public servants deserve to be paid properly for their important work and the Government of Canada continues to take action on all fronts to resolve Phoenix pay issues.

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Publication date : 2019-05-03
PSAC rejects compensation offer for Phoenix pay fiasco, other groups accept
PSAC rejects compensation offer for Phoenix pay fiasco, other groups accept

The federal government says it has reached a tentative deal with some groups on compensation for workers affected by problems with the Phoenix pay system. But the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents the majority of federal employees, has rejected the offer.

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Publication date : 2019-05-03
Applying the Jordan framework: Are courts placing too much of the burden on the defence?
Applying the Jordan framework: Are courts placing too much of the burden on the defence?

In R v. Jordan, the Supreme Court put a hard cap on the duration of criminal trials — sending a thrill of panic through the justice system in the process. The ruling is roughly two and a half years old now. Time for the training wheels to come off.Now, that backlog of pre-Jordan charges has been largely cleared — the transitional period is over. But Crown and defence lawyers alike report that trial times aren’t speeding up; statistics cited in a recent Law Times article show that in the Ontario Court of Justice, average times to disposition and the number of court appearances have not diminished since Jordan. If the SCC intended the ruling as a salutary shock to the system, it didn’t work.So what happens now?

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Publication date : 2018-12-18
RCMP’s forensic firearm testing backlog adding delays to justice system

The RCMP’s forensics labs are taking nearly four times longer to analyze firearms than they did just four years ago, adding delays to a criminal justice system under pressure to speed up after a recent Supreme Court decision.

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Publication date : 2018-12-16
Court delays persist, despite Jordan
Court delays persist, despite Jordan

The Supreme Court of Canada decision in Jordanand the problems it tried to address are still top of mind in the criminal courts in Ontario nearly two-and-a-half years after it was released.

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Publication date : 2018-12-03
The performance pay saga reaches a settlement
The performance pay saga reaches a settlement

The issue is the prorating of performance pay in relation to pre-promotion period for the year in which lawyers are promoted. If a lawyer was eligible for performance pay and was promoted during the year, the Employer, rather than pay out a prorated performance pay for the period pre-promotion, paid out nothing at all regardless of your performance rating for the year. The AJC originally filed a grievance in 2011 and in response to that grievance, TB had conceded in the context of the adjudication hearing that pre-promotion service should be recognized. Unfortunately, the adjudicator originally disregarded TB's concession in his decision of 2015, requiring the AJC to file an application for judicial review, which eventually resulted on December 22, 2016 in a remedy limited to the right to pre-promotion performance pay for the year 2010-2011. Thus, the AJC filed another policy grievance on July 27th 2016. The hearing was scheduled for October 2018. We are pleased to announce that we now have a signed Memorandum of Settlement on this matter with TB.  

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Publication date : 2018-10-30

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Should prosecutors be able to run for political office?


Len MacKay was part of an earlier committee that made a recommendation that would effectively grant prosecutors the right to run for office if they seek a leave of absence. Photo: Association of Justice Counsel.


Emilie Taman now has the support of the Association of Justice Counsel in her challenge of the decision. It cited the need for impartiality in precluding her from running in the upcoming federal election. Sources say Taman is seeking the NDP nomination in Ottawa-Vanier.


Association president Len MacKay says the union’s concern is the commission’s decision could set a precedent for a blanket ban on prosecutors who want to seek leaves of absence to pursue politics.


“We have taken up this application on her behalf to help protect her individual rights and freedoms, but of great concern to us as well is what precedent might be set by the process that was followed in Ms. Taman’s case,” says MacKay.


“In particular, it would appear that senior management strongly recommended that the prosecutor not be granted leave to run for office because of the impact on her impartiality.”


MacKay says Taman’s managers argued there was no way to protect the perception of Taman’s impartiality given her position and job description.


According to the association, the government could use the same reasons to deny any federal prosecutor the ability to run for office. The perception of impartiality is “a perfectly valid concept,” says MacKay.


“The problem we have, though, is if you look at the [commission’s] decision and the way they described the applicant’s duties, that description applies to virtually every prosecutor in the county, both provincial and federal,” he says.


The concern, then, is the bigger picture, he adds.


“Our concern is that this would amount to a blanket prohibition on at least federal prosecutors. We see it as a bigger battle as well.”


In her application for judicial review, Taman, a daughter of former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour, is seeking to set aside the commission’s decision and a declaration that it violates the Constitution.


The commission “based its decision without regard for the material before it, by rendering a decision without regard to the specific duties performed by the applicant; instead, the [commission] based its decision on broad principles of prosecutorial discretion and the mandate of the entire office of the director of public prosecutions,” the application says.


When reached via e-mail, Taman declined to comment on the matter.


MacKay says Taman’s job is to handle prosecutions and notes her duties are “relatively routine.” However, there are cases where it would be legitimate to deny a federal prosecutor leave to run for office, he says.


“I could probably put together a particular prosecutor job description where we would be reluctant to perhaps take this battle on,” adds MacKay, noting that would include “politically sensitive” jobs that involved dealing almost entirely with the Elections Act or the Lobbying Act.


In 2004, another public prosecutor, Maureen Harquail, challenged a decision by the commission denying her leave to seek a nomination in that year’s federal election. By the time Federal Court had dealt with the matter, however, the election had come and gone and the application was moot. Still, the court found problems with how the commission had arrived at its decision.


The commission ended up granting Harquail leave to run in the subsequent election and she’s again running as a Conservative candidate in Don Valley East in this fall’s federal vote.


“It’s a shame that 10 years later, we’re going through the same kind of arguments,” says Harquail, who’s now general counsel at the Ontario Racing Commission.


“Frankly, that was one of the main reasons why I left the Department of Justice. I didn’t want to go through this kind of battle every time I wanted to seek a nomination. I’ve been able to pursue a political life working with the Ontario government and it’s been a much easier process,” she adds.


Harquail says she understands the concept of impartiality but feels that principle should apply to people holding more senior roles within the public prosecutor’s office instead of stopping “line prosecutors” from putting their names on the ballot.


“I’m very passionate about the ability of a public servant to seek office and to serve the public in another way,” she says. “To limit someone’s ability to put their name on a ballot, I mean that’s what our country is made of. It’s democracy and to not be able to put your name on a ballot, that’s a big problem for me.”


Harquail says her duties in 2005, when the commission granted her leave to seek office, were the same as the work she was doing when it found otherwise a year earlier. Asked if she thinks her Federal Court challenge of the first decision influenced the second outcome, she says, “Who knows?”


In 1997, current Justice Minister Peter MacKay ran into the same hurdle when he sought leave from his job as a Crown to pursue a Progressive Conservative nomination in Halifax.


After a rejection by the prosecution services in Halifax and his subsequent challenge of that decision, the matter concluded in a settlement that permitted MacKay’s political pursuit and promised a review of the statute.


Len MacKay, then a provincial prosecutor in Halifax, was part of the committee that reviewed the legislation and made a recommendation that would effectively grant prosecutors the right to run for office if they seek a leave of absence.