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February 2018
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David Frum is a Canadian born, living in the USA, author who just released a book about Donald Trump that details his attacks on the pillars of Democracy in the USA. There has been a lot of press about this lately and it has all been focused on the USA.

Last week, Canada experienced another chipping away at our Canadian Democracy by our Federal Government and as lawyer, this one has me smokin’ mad.

In case you’re not Canadian, or have not heard, on February 9, 2018 a Saskatchewan farmer was acquitted of murder charges in the death of an Indigenous Youth on his property. This acquittal was by a jury of 12 non-Indigenous people, who listened to evidence presented to them for two weeks. The Jurors deliberated for over 30 hours. During the deliberations they re-heard testimony, at their request, and then returned with a not guilty verdict.

Canada’s Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould tweeted after the verdict:

” My thoughts are with the family of Colton Boushie tonight. I truly feel your pain and I hear all of your voices. As a country we can and must do better – I am committed to working everyday to ensure justice for all Canadians.”

This statement makes it clear that our Justice Minister believes that the verdict was wrong. Subsequent tweets from the Prime Minister have implied that the 12 jurors were racist.

This is political interference in the Judicial System. This is an attack on Democracy.

As lawyers we are bound by Rules of Conduct that specifically prevent us from making comments that would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Our Minister of Justice and Prime Minster just did that.

Minister Wilson-Raybould should be removed from her role given the violation and the Law Society of BC should open a disciplinary investigation.

Inga B. Andriessen JD

The Canadian Federal Government is legalizing recreational marijuana use the year. The issue of marijuana use in rental units is an issue residential landlords need to be aware of.

The Ontario Provincial Government has indicated it will ban the use of recreational marijuana in public spaces and workplaces, allowing it only in private residences. The Province says that medical marijuana use will be permitted anywhere that cigarette smoking is allowed.

How does the legalization of marijuana affect the residential landlord? Any lease a landlord currently has in effect cannot be changed to reflect that marijuana use is not allowed. However, the Government advised that if your lease has a term that cigarette smoking is not permitted, that term will most likely also apply to marijuana use. It will be interesting to see how the Landlord and Tenant Board will interpret a no smoking term to marijuana use.

Many leases are unfortunately silent on smoking, which will become an issue if the landlord does not want marijuana use at their premises. It can be very expensive to repair a unit where a tenant was smoking marijuana in the unit.
When entering into a new lease with a tenant, make sure your terms are up-to-date to ensure that your investment is protected.

If you would like us to review your current leases, would like assistance in drafting a new lease for future tenants, give us a call, and we would be more than happy to assist you.

Murray S. Brown, Paralegal

Many times when we meet with our clients to discuss their estate planning, the question of what happens if your spouse and all of your children fail to survive you, triggers a blank reaction. More often than not, this consideration of a common disaster occurring is something that tends to be overlooked.

Usually a married couple will look to the other surviving spouse to be the primary beneficiary of their estate and as the guardian of any children. But unfortunately, as we have seen time and time in the news, it is not a far-fetched possibility that a family goes on a roadtrip and experiences a fatal accident. In this scenario, if all the beneficiaries simultaneously die, who will inherit the deceased’s estate?

A common disaster provision in a will is an important clause to ensure that an alternate beneficiary is designated in the event all of your primary beneficiaries die at the same time, which is preferable than having your estate distributed in accordance with the law if you do not make such a designation.

We all want to best control the outcomes of our estates when we die and to leave legacies to our loved ones of our choosing. Having a properly drafted will covering a common disaster scenario is something we encourage everyone to think about when planning your estate, and is something we can definitely help out with.

Michelle Eames, LLB, LLM