Nunatsiaq News
COMMENTARY July 11, 2018 - 10:17 am

Legal Ease, July 11

What is criminal assault?

JAMES MORTON

The concept of criminal assault is a fairly simple one: it is a criminal offence to hit other people.

Unfortunately, as with many legal concepts, the simplicity of a basic assault gets complicated because life is complicated.

First, as a technical matter, an assault takes place whenever you touch...

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COMMENTARY July 10, 2018 - 2:15 pm

Beyond the headlines, July 10

In an era of Facebook and “fake news,” media literacy is more important than ever

THOMAS ROHNER

If you trust news outlets to hold government and corporations accountable, who holds the media accountable? The short answer is people like you, readers of Nunatsiaq News.

But that’s not always an easy task. Even with Nunavut’s slow internet speeds and low internet access, Nunavummiut are...

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COMMENTARY July 04, 2018 - 10:29 am

Legal Ease, July 4

What is a conditional discharge?

JAMES MORTON

After a criminal trial where there is a conviction, or following a guilty plea, the judge has the difficult job of sentencing the accused.

In Canada, the sentencing process is very discretionary, and judges, in most cases, can legally impose sentences ranging from (in effect) telling the accused...

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COMMENTARY June 07, 2018 - 10:30 am

Legal Ease, June 7

Complaint letters

JAMES MORTON

Life doesn’t always work the way it should. Sometimes you order something and when it arrives it’s defective, or it performs badly.

In theory you can sue in court, but even if you go to small claims court, a lawsuit is expensive and time-consuming.

Trying to avoid court is a good idea. That said,...

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COMMENTARY June 05, 2018 - 8:00 am

The Nunavut carbon price two-step

“Canada and Nunavut need to get their collective act together”

SPECIAL TO NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ALEX BUCHAN
Nunavut Vice President
Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Exploration companies and mineral producers in Nunavut spend a great deal of time, effort and money dealing with fossil fuels.

This is for good reason. It is our biggest cost factor in operating in this remote,...

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COMMENTARY May 29, 2018 - 12:00 pm

Legal Ease, May 29

How to fire your lawyer

JAMES MORTON

When you have a lawyer, that lawyer has a duty to protect your interests as best they can.

But your lawyer is your agent, and if you do not feel satisfied with what your lawyer is doing, you can always fire your lawyer.

Similarly, in some but not all circumstances, your lawyer can...

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COMMENTARY May 18, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Legal Ease, May 18

How do appeals work?

JAMES MORTON

As I write this column, I am waiting to be heard by a judge on a motion to extend the time to bring an appeal.

What that means is the person who lost at trial did not bring an appeal within the allotted time, and so, unless an extension is granted, the appeal will be dead.

One of the elements to...

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COMMENTARY May 11, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Legal Ease, May 11

Bad neighbours

JAMES MORTON

Sometimes it’s hard having neighbours.

It’s true that a neighbour can be a genuine lifesaver if, say, your house catches fire, or there is a medical emergency and you need someone to help right away.

But sometimes neighbours can be loud and obnoxious and cause all kinds of grief.

The law is...

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COMMENTARY May 04, 2018 - 9:30 am

Legal Ease, May 4

Special rules for Nunavut courts

JAMES MORTON

About a year ago I wrote a column on the right to a speedy criminal trial.

A speedy trial in criminal cases ensures that justice is done promptly and that witnesses who testify do so when their memories remain reasonably fresh.

A speedy trial is good for the accused, the complainant and the...

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COMMENTARY April 27, 2018 - 10:30 am

Legal Ease, April 27

Legal interpretation

JAMES MORTON

Legal language in statutes, or laws passed by legislative bodies, is sometimes hard to figure out.

That’s because a statute has to write down a general rule that applies to all cases, and that is more difficult than you might expect.

Consider, for example, a criminal law against cutting people...

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COMMENTARY April 20, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Legal Ease, April 20

What does a waiver mean?

JAMES MORTON

Almost any time you go into any sports or recreational activity you have to sign a waiver.

It’s the sort of thing written in fancy language that’s hard to follow in detail, but which amounts to a statement that no matter what happens, you can’t sue anyone for anything.

The idea is to protect the...

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COMMENTARY April 17, 2018 - 10:30 am

Legal Ease, April 17

Does the judge have to accept a plea deal?

JAMES MORTON

Plea deals are a central part of criminal law.

For better or worse—and there are reasonable arguments saying plea deals are not a good idea—our criminal justice system is based on the fact that the vast majority of cases are resolved without a trial.

If that were not the case, the number of...

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COMMENTARY April 09, 2018 - 8:00 am

More than one in 100 Nunavut infants have tuberculosis

"Nobody fully knows the extent of the outbreak."

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

SARAH GILES
University of Ottawa

Canada’s simmering tuberculosis outbreak in northern communities is likely much worse than suspected.

A report newly obtained through an access-to-information request (embedded below) reveals that the incidence rate of TB among Nunavut’s infants—under one year of...

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COMMENTARY April 07, 2018 - 12:45 pm

Required reading: new owners in our own land!

“To build a Nunavut economy on one of our greatest strengths—minerals and the mining of them”

SPECIAL TO NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ALEX BUCHAN
Nunavut Vice President
Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

A few weeks ago, I shared some thoughts with readers from a presentation I gave at the Northern Lights Conference in Ottawa. I reminded the largely southern audience that it was 25 years ago this year that we...

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COMMENTARY April 06, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Legal Ease, April 6

Joining the RCMP

NUNATSIAQ NEWS

There is no more responsible or important job than being a police officer.

Society, rightly, gives special powers to police officers to enforce the law and make sure the community is protected and safe.

And the work of the RCMP is not limited to law enforcement—the RCMP is a part of the larger...

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COMMENTARY April 02, 2018 - 2:30 pm

Legal Ease, April 2

Who gets the dog if we break up?

JAMES MORTON

When a couple splits up, they divide up their stuff.

Entire legal careers are based on the division of assets, and there is an extensive legislative and case law history about who gets what when couples split.

Obviously, it is better to divide up your stuff on the basis of mutual agreement.

But...

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COMMENTARY April 02, 2018 - 11:30 am

Remembering Louie Kamookak, a wellspring of Inuit traditional knowledge

“His like will not be seen again”

SPECIAL TO NUNATSIAQ NEWS

RUSSELL POTTER

In the history of the modern revival of interest in the fate of the Franklin expedition, there’s really only one man whose presence links it all together: Louie Kamookak.

He played a central role for more than three decades in one of Canada’s most enduringly fascinating mysteries:...

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COMMENTARY March 26, 2018 - 11:30 am

Legal Ease, March 26

Urgent orders

JAMES MORTON

Civil law cases are painfully slow.

Even the simplest case in small claims court takes months to complete and more complex cases can go on for years.

Unfortunately, lawsuits take time and no fair legal system can make them run much faster.

Facts have to be gathered, witnesses interviewed,...

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COMMENTARY March 17, 2018 - 11:29 am

Legal Ease, March 17

Why can't the jury hear the whole story?

JAMES MORTON

In the recent Kwasi Benjamin murder trial in Montreal, the jury was not allowed to hear about Benjamin’s previous conviction for physical abuse of the woman he killed or his breaches of a court-ordered condition that he stay away from her.

The jury didn’t know Benjamin had been released from jail...

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COMMENTARY March 09, 2018 - 1:30 pm

Legal Ease, March 9

If charged with a crime, can you be fired?

JAMES MORTON

Can you be fired from your job if you are charged with a criminal offence?

The answer, like so many in law, is maybe.

First, if you are a member of a union, the process requires a grievance and you have to work through your union representative—but this article deals with non-unionized...

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COMMENTARY March 01, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Legal Ease, Mar. 1

Can I use emails as proof?

JAMES MORTON

I recently had a case where my clients had done something very implausible.

They planned to buy a house but started renovating the property before they owned it. In the end they invested over $100,000 in the property and the transaction failed.

My clients had invested a fortune in someone else’s...

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COMMENTARY February 22, 2018 - 9:30 am

Legal Ease, Feb. 22

Do we need jails?

JAMES MORTON

Prison is such a standard part of the criminal justice system that it is seldom that anyone thinks about it. And yet the reasons we have jail sentences can be challenged.

Section 3.1 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the law that governs federal prisons, reads: “The protection of...

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COMMENTARY February 22, 2018 - 8:00 am

The Nunavut mining industry is back

"We negotiated our land claim agreement with mineral development as our economic foundation"

SPECIAL TO NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ALEX BUCHAN
Nunavut Vice President
Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to tell delegates at the recent Northern Lights conference in Ottawa about our new Nunavut mining industry, and I want to share that with you here.

I say “new mining...

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COMMENTARY February 14, 2018 - 1:30 pm

Legal Ease, Feb. 14

How can lawyers exclude jurors?

JAMES MORTON

In a Canadian criminal jury trial, both the prosecution and the defence are allowed to block a certain number of people from sitting on the jury without giving any reasons for excluding them.

The right to block someone from sitting on the jury without any explanation is known as a peremptory...

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COMMENTARY February 02, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Legal Ease, Feb. 2

Intermittent sentences or “weekends”

JAMES MORTON

In most occasion when people are sentenced to a prison term, they are taken directly from court to start serving whatever time in jail the judge has allotted to them.

An exception to this general rule is the “intermittent sentence,” sometimes known as “weekends.”

In specific cases and for fairly...

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