Annual General Meeting October 2018
Chairman's Report October 20, 2018
Dear Directors and supporters of the Canadian Justice Review Board (CJRB),
I have prepared this report on behalf of Ted DeCoste who passed away unexpectedly on February 16, 2018. A notice and a copy of his obituary was posted on the CJRB website to commemorate his life.
Over the past year Ted wrote to the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) on several occasions concerning access to files held by the Assessment Review Board of Ontario (ARB). In particular the CJRB seeks to review the unpublished decisions of the ARB's vice-chairman that purport to cancel decisions that have been in favour of property owners. The Assessment Act makes clear that the jurisdiction to review ARB decisions rests solely with the Superior Court of Ontario (Divisional) with leave. The ARB (and its chairmen including Paul Muldoon) appear to have no inherent jurisdictions to re-adjudicate or cancel ARB decisions at the request of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). Consequently, there is an appearance that the ARB is not independent of the interests of MPAC.
As noted in Ted's report last year, the IPC attempted to mediate and then gave notice that the matter would proceed to a full inquiry. The IPC has not yet announced any decision or orders in the matter but the newly elected Ford government has announced that it will be Ontario government policy to look for efficiencies. In that regard, the Assessment Review Board did not receive a favourable review from the Auditor General of Ontario. Among other things, the Auditor touched on questionable appointment practices at the ARB.
In July we were pleased to learn that our colleague Al Rosen (past chairman 2012) was appointed as one of the three person commission assigned to examine and report on the state of Ontario's finances and debt. In announcing the quality of Al's appointment at a news conference, premier Ford commented that "it doesn't get much better than that".
Our colleague Allison Kooijman has been actively pursuing improvements to health care legislation in British Columbia. The current legislation forces people with damages that arise from medical errors to incur costly court proceedings. A far less costly process would be adjudication by a tribunal, in a manner similar to the workers' compensation tribunals. Ms.Kooijman's communications with the B.C. minister of health the Hon. Adrix Dix advocate that a "health care" tribunal should be able to access a compensation fund in the same way that employers contribute to the workers' compensation fund. At the present time public money (in the millions of dollars) goes to the Canadian Medical Protective Association instead, and is used to hire lawyers to fight claims in the courts. Earlier this year Ms. Kooijman became the co-chair of Patients for Patients' Safety Canada, a division of The Canadian Patient Safety Institute and attended a conference in Ottawa on this matter funded by Health Canada.
In April our colleague Tony Kaluzny made good use of his 40 years of experience in the electrical field and provided a reply to an email that the CJRB received from Catherine Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell delivered a report on a community meeting in Smithville Ontario titled "Understanding Stray Voltage and Industrial Wind Turbines" . Apparently overloading of single return wires (ground wires) causes eighty percent of the power that would normal return to the substation to be instead "dumped" into the ground as "stray voltage". This is a problem for farms with livestock that are located near wind turbines.
Our colleague Elizabeth Marshall has raised concerns about Bill 40-Human Rights Bill Amendment Act (genetic characteristics). https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-1/bill-40 This includes the right to equal treatment if a person refuses to undergo or disclose the results of a genetic test. Insurance contracts are permitted to differentiate or make a distinction, exclusion or preference on reasonable and bona fide grounds because of genetic characteristics. The Federal government has challenged the allowance of genetic testing and won. This unfortunately has not influenced the provincial government. Ms. Marshall has also examined the Green Energy Repeal Act and is concerned that the government merely moved sections of the former Act into the Electricity Act which does nothing to halt new wind turbine projects. She believes that allowances for these projects under the Planning Act remain in force.
The Cannabis Act and the inclusion under Smoke Free Ontario Act poses another conundrum . Ms. Marshall points out that the Conservation Authorities, under Bill 139, are now granted even more powers, including warrantless entry and are pushing forward with larger and larger set backs from rivers and streams that boil down to duplication of fees for permits- and little else.
I believe that I can speak for Ted DeCoste in saying that he was pleased with the accomplishments of the CJRB during the period of his chairmanship from October 2015 to February 2018. We welcome director Larry Elford of Lethbridge Alberta as our incoming chairman. No doubt Larry will continue with Ted's initiatives on behalf of the CJRB and will have some suggestions about new lines of inquiry. We also welcoming Glenn Lucas' nomination and election to the Board. Glenn brings a wealth of experience in the field of property assessments and appeals heard by the Assessment Review Board. The CJRB will rely on that knowledge in pressing forward with Ted DeCoste's application to the Information and Privacy Commission that seeks transparency in the decision-making processes of the Assessment Review Board.
I am pleased to say that the CJRB website has received many more visitors this year compared to last. Many have read and utilized Bruce Haines' past commentary on the rules of the ARB, as well as the various other reports and information posted by other lawyers, journalists, and writers concerning the state of the justice system. Excluding a short period this summer when the CJRB website was off-line for repairs and software updating, page views range from 10,000 to 20,000 per week.
The CJRB Facebook page has also attracted substantial attention. For example, the CJRB posted a newspaper report about an obscure clause buried in the spring 2018 mammoth budget bill that is headlined "One legal system for corporations and one for the rest of us" (click to open). It was read by 5,981 people over a two day period and (according to Facebook data) was shared by 96 others. Our colleague and incoming chairman Larry Elford can be credited for setting up and substantially managing the CJRB Facebook page. With Larry's energetic chairmanship I believe the CJRB can achieve considerably more in the upcoming years.
On behalf of the late Ted DeCoste,
W.G. Craig (vice-chairman)