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Supreme Court permits use of drug-sniffing dogs

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the use of drug-sniffing police dogs on suspects is legal, as long as officers have “reasonable suspicion based on objective, ascertainable facts” that their suspects are engaged in illegal activity.

This case stems largely from a 2006 case in which Benjamin MacKenzie was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. The police claimed that his eyes appeared red and called in drug-detecting dogs, which led to the discovery of 14 kilograms of marijuana in MacKenzie’s trunk.

Critics of the decision have argued that while the police may catch offenders like MacKenzie this way, the permission to use methods like sniffer dogs means that police more frequently infringe upon the rights of innocent individuals based on a subjective understanding of what constitutes suspicious behaviour.

“[The ruling] has the effect of giving an enormous amount of deference to the instincts and subjective views of police officers, at the expense of some of the liberties we assumed were in place since the Charter came,” Benjamin Berger, law professor at York University, told The Globe and Mail.


Alberta named fastest growing province

New numbers released by Statistics Canada last Thursday show that Alberta has the fastest growing population in Canada. Alberta’s population increased by 3.4 per cent last year, while the entire population of Canada grew by only 1.2 per cent.

Statistics Canada attributes Alberta’s growth to “record levels of international migration and inter-provincial migration.” According to the report, Alberta has been the frontrunner in population growth over the last 30 years, with an increase of 50.8 per cent.

“Our relative economic conditions compared to the rest of Canada are really explaining why we’re seeing such an increase, particularly in inter-provincial migration,” Kate White, chief economist for the Alberta government, told The Edmonton Journal. “Compared to the rest of the world, which is still struggling to walk away from the great recession, the relative opportunity in Alberta is very good for international migrants as well.”

Following Alberta in growth were Nunavut (2.5 per cent) and Saskatchewan (1.9 per cent). All provinces showed some population growth with the exception of New Brunswick (-0.1 per cent), the Northwest Territories (-0.2 per cent), and Nova Scotia (-0.5 per cent).


Victims of bus accident to file lawsuit against company

The company involved in a Sept. 18 bus accident in Ottawa faces legal action following the incident. The potential multimillion-dollar lawsuit comes after the collision of a bus with a Via Rail train resulted in the death of six people, including the bus driver.

According to lawyers in Toronto, one person who was injured in the accident is looking to file a lawsuit against OC Transpo on behalf of all involved in the crash. This could include a class action lawsuit representing everyone involved in the crash, which could cost the company over $20 million, and a group action lawsuit representing the families of those killed, which could cost the company over $10 million.

Those injured in the collision, however, face potential complications regarding a court case because they have to complete several steps in the insurance process before they are able to sue for pain or suffering. However, this does not affect the families of those killed in the crash, who can file for death and funeral payments from their own insurers or the bus insurer.


Canada Revenue Agency faces allegations of corruption

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) came under fire last Wednesday when Radio-Canada revealed that the agency sent a refund cheque for over $380,000 to Nicolo Rizzuto, a jailed Quebec mob boss owing $1.5 million in unpaid taxes in 2007. Andrew Treusch, CRA commissioner, said the agency will be launching an internal investigation to discover the source of the cheque.

Over the course of Radio-Canada’s investigation, several former CRA employees have come forward with accusations of corruption within the agency. According to the employee who discovered the cheque, Jean-Pierre Paquette, it took the agency over a year to address the concerns he raised after discovering the incident.

“It’s become endemic; senior managers who are involved in a file take their retirement and a month later have become legal advisers or consultants on the same files for the other side,” the CBC quotes Paquette as saying. “It’s a huge conflict of interest.”

Eventually, these concerns resulted in a yearlong RCMP investigation, which has resulted in over 100 criminal charges against people who previously worked for the CRA.


New app encourages public to pressure businesses to comply with Bill 101

The Montreal chapter of the French language advocacy group Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste has released an online application designed to encourage the public to pressure businesses in the city to comply with Quebec’s French language laws.

First passed in 1977, the Charter of the French Langauge, also known as Bill 101, defines French as the language of the majority in Quebec, and outlines basic language rights in areas such as parliament, labour relations, and businesses. The app is called “Moi, j’achète en français,” and allows customers to rank and comment on a business based on their service in French.

The theory behind the app is that if Francophone Quebecers know that a business does not provide its service to their language standard, the business will lose profits. According to the organization, the application does not report businesses to the police for not properly adhering to Bill 101.

“A team of volunteers will follow up on the most pertinent files, and will take the actions necessary to find a solution with the businesses that have the worst scores,” the website explains.

The application is available online and as a smartphone application.

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