Canada's Surrogacy Laws are in Dire Need of Reform
Bill C-75 offers mixed bag of reforms but fails to address key factors behind delays in justice system
A Liberal MP is trying to change Canada’s surrogacy laws and expand reproductive rights for Canadians. Anthony Housefather has announced his plans to introduce a private member's bill, which would repeal the current legal prohibitions against paying for a surrogate.
Current laws are surrogacy in Canada are vague...and simultaneously harsh.
If a person is found guilty of such offences, the penalties are severe. They could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a $500,000 fine.
Ultimately, there is no need for this kind of paternalistic legal intervention and the laws are in dire need of reform.
Sarah Leamon Law: Law Talks Radio - Episode 1
Last week, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced a massive, 300-page bill, aimed at overhauling our criminal justice system.
While many aspects of Bill C-75 are intended to curb courtroom delay, others are focused on ending intimate partner violence and diversifying juries.
But will this legislation be effective in achieving its objectives?
Some critics are doubtful…but while the bill is far from perfect, there are some positives aspects.
I read Bill C-75 over the weekend so you don’t have to. Here’s what you need to know...
Power & Politics - Bill C-46 and the Future of Drug Impaired Driving in Canada
Welcome to Sarah Leamon Law: Law Talks Radio!
On our very first episode, I am joined by two guests to discuss the issue of both drug and alcohol impaired driving under the 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme.
My guests and I explore how the law is currently enforced under the Motor Vehicle Act in the province of British Columbia. We also touch on the future of drug impaired driving law, given the impending legalization of marijuana in Canada.
You can stream Episode 1 by clicking on the link.
I hope you enjoy, and will tune in next month when I dive deeper into the issues around cannabis & the law!
Thanks for listening!
Calling All Women In Criminal Law
On March 30, 2018, a special edition of Power & Politics, focusing on the future of cannabis in Canada, aired on CBC.
I was invited on the program, along with Professor Robert Solomon, legal director for MADD Canada, to debate the future of drug impaired driving in Canada.
While Professor Solomon supports a zero tolerance approach to drugs and driving, and total criminalization, I make a case for more principled measures to educate and deter people from mixing marijuana and motor vehicles once the drug becomes legal.
You can watch my appearance, starting around the 12 minute mark, by clicking the link.
Fertility Law In Canada Might Be In for Some Big Changes Very Soon
Last week, I launched the Women's Association of Criminal Lawyers - British Columbia.
This peer-driven, non-profit organization is geared towards the advancement of women in criminal law.
WACL-BC has been developed as a ground-up organization that is driven by the women whom it serves. It is committed to fostering diversity within the criminal bar and to creating a
supportive community of female criminal lawyers.
So...WACL-BC wants to hear from YOU! Please weigh in and let your voice be heard. We welcome all women who practice in the area of criminal law, and we are a LGBTQ2 inclusive space.
Check out our website for more information, and join the movement.
Together, let's raise the bar for women in criminal law!
What Happens When A Self Driving Car Kills Someone?
It is currently illegal to pay for the services of a surrogate or receive money for a sperm or egg donation in Canada. These offences are punishable with fines up to $500,000 or ten years in prison..and while these are severe penalties, many lawyers and fertility consultants remain unclear about what exactly the laws even mean.
In order to avoid this mess, many Canadian couples and hopeful parents are seeking reproductive services abroad.
But should our laws be updated?
I sat down with Roundhouse Radio's Gene Valaitis this morning to discuss this topic, and the future of fertility law in Canada. You can listen to the full interview here.
Social Media Is Changing Our Criminal Justice System
Self-driving cars are becoming more and more common on our roadways...but some people are becoming worried.
Last weekend, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber in Arizona. Pilot projects involving self-driving Ubers were immediately halted throughout North America, including in Toronto.
As technology develops, there will surely be bugs to work out. But what happens when a self-driving car is involved in a major accident? Who is held accountable? What are the legal repercussions?
I sat down with Roundhouse Radio's Gene Valaitis to discuss this topic. You can listen to the full interview here.
The Federal Government Wants to Share Your Confidential Tax Information with Foreign Governments
Over eighty per cent of Canadians use the internet and have engaged in the use of social media. Things like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are household names and you can't seem to avoid them.
When we think about social media, we don't necessarily think about crime...but these global platforms are having a big impact on how crimes are committed, investigated and prosecuted.
From online confessions to accidentally incriminating selfies, social media is creeping into our court rooms more and more. But how will our criminal justice system keep up? And are new laws necessary to help combat the prevalence of online crime?
I discussed this, and other issues around social media and crime, this morning with Roundhouse Radio's Gene Valaitis.
Listen to the full interview here.
Expert Legal Evidence On Bill C-46 In Canada's Senate
The federal government's 2018-19 budget has been released, and it contains a rather unexpected surprise.
Attached to all the usual financial plan is a 78-page annex. While few people will ever read this document, it contains an unusual provision. This provision seeks to create a legal mechanism to share the confidential tax information of Canadians with more than three dozen foreign governments, including the U.S., Russia, and China.
The government says this is necessary to aid in the fight against global crimes, such as terrorism, money laundering and drug dealing.
But if that's the case, then we are left wondering why this controversial provision was so curiously buried in the fine print of a much larger document, and asking how our privacy rights as Canadians will be protected.
You can read the full article, which appears in The Georgia Straight, here.
How Can We Balance Privacy Rights with Protecting Vulnerable Populations?
Earlier this week, I was honoured to honoured to be personally invited to appear before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in order to advise them on bill C-46.
In the course of my appearance, I was asked to provide the Committee with five minutes of testimony in relation to the bill. Afterwards, I was questioned by the Senators for fifty minutes.
What resulted was a very broad and interesting conversation about the constitutional implications of this proposed law and the state of impaired driving.
You can watch a video link or read a complete transcript of the appearance, which is archived here.
Verdict in Colten Boushie killing should open door for genuine reforms around juries
The case of a B.C. doctor who was recently forced to undergo fingerprinting with the RCMP is raising from eyebrows.
The doctor says that his civil rights were violated. He is worried that the RCMP will force more doctors to undergo fingerprinting in the future and he feels that this is a serious invasion of privacy.
But protecting vulnerable and at-risk populations is of utmost importance.
So how do we balance these two seemingly competing interests?
This morning, I saw down with Roundhouse Radio's Gene Valaitis to talk about protected Charter rights, privacy and the public interest.
Listen to the interview here.
The Colten Boushie Trial Raises Serious Questions About Justice, Racism & Politics in Canada
If anything, the Boushie trial served as a judicial microcosm, dramatically playing out long-standing racial tensions that are much bigger than just two men whose paths tragically crossed one late summer day.
So where do we go from here?
Perhaps the most solemnly consequential change that could come about as a result of this case could be jury reform.
Jury reform is long overdue in our country, and should occur in two major ways. First, in ensuring more equitable and proportional representation on jury panels and, secondly, in allowing jurors to talk about the reasons for their findings after judicial proceedings have concluded.
Read the full article here.
The B.C. Government Reveals Its Plan to Create a 90-day Drug-Impaired Driving Scheme
The Colten Boushie trial has rocked the Canadian media and everyone seems to have an opinion - including our own Prime Minister.
But is it appropriate for politicians to weigh in on judicial decisions that are still currently before the court? Was the decision wrong? Was racism a factor? Can the Crown appeal?
And - perhaps most importantly - how can we find justice for the Boushie family and First Nations people in this country?
B.C.'s Answers to Some Big Cannabis Questions Leaves Much To Be Desired
Our provincial government has released a plan to deal with cannabis once it becomes legal.
Amongst other things, it has revealed an intention to create a 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme for drug-impaired drivers. It is likely that this scheme will be similar to the one already in place for alcohol-impaired drivers.
Of course, no one is pro-impaired driving...but will innocent people be unfairly punished? And what does this mean for our Charter rights?
I sat down with Roundhouse Radio's Gene Valaitis to discuss some of the potential problems with our governments plan to curb drug-impaired driving.
You can listen to the full interview on Roundhouse Radio here.
Global BC - New B.C. pot laws include 90-day ban on drug-impaired drivers, but what is ‘impaired’?
Yesterday afternoon, the B.C. government made an announcement in relation to the use of recreational marijuana in our province.
We now have some more clarity around how the use, regulation and sale of the drug will look in B.C. will look once it becomes legal.
And while the announcement answered some big questions, it also left a lot hanging in the balance.
So let's get to it and break this announcement down into three topics - tenancy issues, drug-impaired driving and public use - in order to find out what it might mean for you.
You can also read the full article, as it appears in The Georgia Straight, here.
Could You Face Legal Consequences for Sending a 'Sext' Message?
On February 5, 2018, our provincial government released plans for how it will deal with marijuana legalization. Amongst other things, they intend to create a 90-day Immediate Roadside Prohibition scheme for drug-impaired drivers. They will also implement a zero tolerance policy for 'N' drivers and marijuana.
While this may sound reasonably prudent and necessary at first, difficulties arise when you consider that there are no reliable means to determine marijuana impairment at the roadside.
Global BC covered this story. Reporter Grace Ke reached out to me for an interview.
You can watch the full news clip here.
Riding With An Unsecured Pet In Your Vehicle Could Result In Hefty Fines
Sexting is defined as sending sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone. It seems trivial, and even trite, but could there be legal implications?
This week, on Roundhouse Radio, I sat down with Gene Valaitis to discuss the possible legal consequences of sexting - both for teens and adults.
So before you press that 'send' button, make sure to listen to the full interview here.
Allegations of Wide Spread Sexual Misconduct Plague the RCMP
It might surprise you to learn that riding with an unsecured pet in your vehicle could potentially result in a substantial traffic ticket.
Drivers have the responsibility of ensuring that they exercise all the care and attention necessary to be a safe road user. Case law has stated that driving without due care and attention does not end with your mobile device - it focuses on the manner in which a vehicle is operated overall.
Last week, I spoke to 604 NOW about distracted driving laws and what this could mean for pet owners on the go. You can read the entire article here.
If You're Thinking That it's Okay to be Impaired in a Driverless Car, Guess Again
When a case action lawsuit involving sexual harassment and the RCMP was approved to go ahead, lawyers estimated that they would receive about one thousand claims.
So far, there are over 2,400 claimants, and many more coming forward. Lawyers are now expecting over 4,000 claimants before it's all over.
Many have expressed shock and outrage at the fact that such a toxic workplace could exist for so long, under the eye of the government.
Earlier this week, I sat down with Roundhouse Radio's Gene Valaitis to discuss sexual misconduct in the RCMP and beyond. You can hear the entire interview here.
Driverless cars are coming to a highway near you, and they have many people asking: should impaired driving charges become a thing of the past?
As the law stands right now, a person can be charged with impaired driving if they are found either to be driving or in care or control of a motor vehicle while their ability to do is either impaired by a drug or alcohol or their blood-alcohol concentration exceeds 0.08 percent.
This means that a person can be charged, even if they aren’t technically driving...but should laws adapt to technological advancements in the auto industry?