This week the Supreme Court of Canada released two decisions and
granted leave to appeal in one case likely to be of interest to
The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from the Quebec Court of
Appeal in Immeubles Jacques Robitaille inc. v. Québec
(City), 2014 SCC 34. The appellant developer had
challenged an offence notice issued by the municipality for
permitting or tolerating non-conforming parking use contrary to the
municipality's zoning and planning by-law. The developer, in
challenging the notice, relied in part on acquired rights based on
the use of the parking lot. The question that was raised was
whether the doctrine of estoppel could be pleaded by a defendant in
penal proceedings dealing with an application of a provision of a
municipal zoning by-law.
In dismissing the appeal, the Supreme Court reviewed the test
for promissory estoppel in public law but went on to say that the
doctrine of estoppel must yield to an overriding public interest
and cannot be invoked to challenge the application of a specific
provision in the law.
In a second decision, the Supreme Court reversed the decisions
of three lower courts when it extended maternity leave benefits to
contract workers in Dionne v. Commission scolaire des
Patriotes, 2014 SCC 33.
This case involved a substitute teacher who had just become
pregnant when she signed a contract for a few days of work with the
respondent school board. Just prior to signing the contract,
the teacher's physician had determined that her unborn
child was vulnerable to a virus common in schools and the teacher
should have an alternate placement. The province's health and
safety commission informed her that she was entitled to receive
maternity leave benefits due to her condition. The school board
challenged the decision, arguing that the teacher's inability
to enter a classroom negated the contract.
Three lower tribunals and courts had held that the teacher's
inability to fulfil her contractual duties from the outset rendered
the contract null and void and that she therefore had no working
relationship with the school board and no entitlement to
The Supreme Court, however, took an expansive view of the
occupational health and safety regime in the province, and held
that the legislated right of a pregnant worker to withdraw from an
unsafe workplace cannot be used to conclude that such withdrawal
negates the formation of the contract of employment. The Supreme
Court went on to say that the teacher's pregnancy was not an
incapacity that prevented her from performing the work, it was the
dangerous workplace that prevented it.
Finally, the Court granted leave to appeal from the Quebec Court
of Appeal's unanimous decision in Bombardier inc.
(Bombardier Aerospace Training Center) c. Commission des droits de
la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, 2013 QCCA 1650.
This decision will mark the first time the Supreme Court will
consider the degree to which Canadian companies that are subject to
U.S. security standards must evaluate the impact of such standards
on Canadians in order to comply with Canadian laws.
The case involves a Pakistani Canadian pilot employed by
Bombardier, who was to receive training that was offered by
Bombardier in Texas and Quebec. The pilot, who held both US and
Canadian pilot's licences, used his US licence to apply for the
training in Texas. However , Bombardier received notice from the
U.S. Department of Justice stating that the pilot was considered by
the US to be a threat to aviation security. The pilot then used his
Canadian licence to apply for the training in Quebec but Bombardier
refused to provide the Canadian training, on the grounds that the
company had to submit to the American decision and that he could
only be trained if the U.S. authorities granted him clearance.
The Quebec Human Rights Tribunal found Bombardier had
discriminated against the pilot but the Court of Appeal of Quebec
reversed the Tribunal's decision, noting that it had "no
jurisdiction to issue the order."
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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