Canadian Emissary Addresses Knesset on Premarital Counseling Law

Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Goldie Plotkin was invited to speak at a Knesset meeting last month on the need for premarital counseling for Jewish men and women. Plotkin, who along with her husband, Rabbi Avrohom Plotkin, co-directs Chabad Lubavitch of Markham in Toronto, Canada, has been counseling young couples for more than 18 years and has recorded videos of her workshops for Chabad.org. This mother and grandmother described her most recent trip to Israel, the rather impromptu visit to the Knesset and the importance of communication for couples once wed.

Q: So how did the presentation in the Knesset come about?

A: I was in Israel for a community mission; we took several community members on a tour to Poland and then Israel. Two weeks before we were set to leave, I got a call from Susan Barth, the founder and director of B’Yachad B’Osher, the “Together in Happiness Center for Marriage Education.” She told me that she watches my workshops online and has begun offering premarital classes in Israel. She also mentioned that Knesset Member Yehuda Glick is proposing legislation to make premarital counseling mandatory in Israel, and that a committee meeting was scheduled for November 8.

I told her it was such a pity because I was only going to be in Israel until November 6. And she said, “You’re going to be in Israel? Cancel your return because I’m going to book you a flight back. You have to stay and speak to the Knesset.”

Q: Can you describe your address? What were some of the highlights?

A: I spoke in English, even though it was the Knesset [where most matters are undertaken in Hebrew]. I was the only religious representative who spoke; I gave the Torah perspective on marriage.

Other speakers included therapists, judges, doctors and a mediator, all of whom discussed marital problems in Israel, how they are climbing, and the affect this is having on families’ mental health and the economy. They were trying to impress on Yehuda Glick that this is legislation that must be passed.

Plotkin co-directs Chabad Lubavitch of Markham in Toronto (Photo: Eden Video)

Plotkin co-directs Chabad Lubavitch of Markham in Toronto (Photo: Eden Video)

Q: I understand that you got some very exciting news just before you started your talk.

A: Yes, I got text that my daughter back home in Canada was in labor. I said I’d like to ask all people of this holy place [Jerusalem] to say a blessing that my daughter should have an easy birth and the baby should be healthy, and everyone said “Amen.” My brother, Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, executive director of the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, joked that this was the first time that something was raised in Knesset and agreed upon that same day.

Q: How long have you been offering marital classes?

A: Marriage is my passion. I have taught brides about the importance and beauty of mikvah since I arrived in Canada 32 years ago. My husband and I turned it into a couple’s workshop 18 years ago, when we created a more expansive curriculum. Today, we run a six-week course that covers the mitzvah of mikvah and marital communication.

Why do we get married? To buy a house? To have kids? We get married because in Judaism, marriage is kadosh [“holy”]. And when a man and a woman stand under a chuppah, they bring G‑d as a third partner. When a husband and wife begin their journey with G‑d’s blessing, they’re already headed for success.

Susan Barth, founder and director of B’Yachad B’Osher, the “Together in Happiness Center for Marriage Education,” and Knesset Member Yehuda Glick (Photo: Eden Video)

Susan Barth, founder and director of B’Yachad B’Osher, the “Together in Happiness Center for Marriage Education,” and Knesset Member Yehuda Glick (Photo: Eden Video)

Q: In your opinion, why is there such a need for these classes?

A: Sadly, I don’t know how many kids today are seeing great marital role-modeling among their parents and other adults, so it’s very important to give them the skills to succeed in marriage.

A lot of people know what not to do in a marriage, but that’s just the first step. We try and start at the basics through role-playing games, introducing different scenarios and more. We give each couple an envelope and ask them to write a letter to themselves about how they envision their marriage to be. We send it to them about four months into their marriage. The letter can serve as a reminder of the importance about treating your spouse with derech eretz—with respect and the love you share.

The Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory] speaks so much about marriage, and that the foundation of the Jewish people is a stable home. The whole world is looking at what’s happening in Israel. . . . What’s the talk in the Knesset? We’re listening, we’re learning, we want to know. Because you are the light unto the nations. And the way you go is the way we go.

So this is the most crucial legislation you can pass. If our marriages fall apart, there goes the Jewish family. Who are we, if not for our homes?

Speakers included therapists, judges, doctors and a mediator, all of whom discussed marital problems in Israel, how they are climbing, and the affect this is having on families’ mental health and the economy. (Photo: Eden Video)

Speakers included therapists, judges, doctors and a mediator, all of whom discussed marital problems in Israel, how they are climbing, and the affect this is having on families’ mental health and the economy. (Photo: Eden Video)

Q: What is the secret of a good marriage?

A: It’s all about relationships and shalom bayit, “peace in the home.”

Men and women come from different planets; they speak different languages. Communication is key, which is why we focus on communication skills in our classes. What makes people G‑dly is our ability to communicate our thoughts and our emotions. That said, you shouldn’t give your spouse the silent treatment; women tend to do this when they’re upset. But men can’t read minds . . . and who would want them to anyway?

When you learn how men and women think differently—and that there are different ways to speak and discuss important matters—we learn to adapt and make tiny changes that can have the greatest impact on a marriage.

Couples have to appreciate how deep and important this relationship is.

(Photo: Eden Video)

(Photo: Eden Video)

(Photo: Eden Video)

(Photo: Eden Video)

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Canadian judge strikes down law that banned face coverings

A Canadian judge granted a temporary stay, Friday, to a law that banned face coverings on those who provided or received public services in the province of Quebec.

Justice Babak Barin ruled that the province cannot order people to remove their face coverings until a provision is put into the law that allows for citizens to apply for religious accommodations.

The law, called Bill 62, was seen by many as targeting Muslims because some Muslim women wear niqabs or hijabs. The province said the law was only to provide clear separation between state and religion, known as a state religious neutrality law.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association launched a court challenge to the law, arguing that it violates the freedom of religion and equality. They asked that the law be set aside until the court could rule whether it is unconstitutional.

But the justice did not go that far and granted a temporary stay, until the provincial government provides a section to allow those who object to the law on religious grounds to file for exemption. Bill 62 does have a clause giving people the right to file for religious accommodations, but that part of the legislation has yet to be put into force. As such, the justice ruled the law is incomplete.

“It is not unreasonable to expect that a state religious neutrality law enacted by the government should apply in a well-thought-out and comprehensive manner, especially when the law in question has been in preparation for some time,” he said in his ruling. “In the interim, noble as the ideology of state religious neutrality may be, the government must ensure that the law it is adopting for the public good is coherent and complete.”

The government said the religious accommodation clause would not be ready to be put into effect until summer.

Catherine McKenzie, the lawyer representing the NCCM and the civil liberties union, said she would have preferred that the law be scrapped completely, but a temporary ban was acceptable and her clients were “happy.”

“I understand the position of the court,” MacKenzie told Canadian media.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the government was not surprised by the ruling.

“I’m not unsatisfied with the judgment because there’s no mention of a violation of the charters (of rights) or any major constitutional problem,” he told reporters.

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Leading Canadian Law Firm Stikeman Elliott Lays Foundation for the Future with iManage Work Product Management

CHICAGO, Nov. 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — iManage, the company dedicated to transforming how professionals work, today announced that Stikeman Elliott LLP — one of Canada’s leading business law firms — has selected iManage as its firm-wide Work Product Management platform.

After conducting a comprehensive internal review of its business processes and work product management needs, the firm sought a world-class, fully integrated solution. The solution had to address firm members changing needs and expectations around how technology can better support document and email management. iManage delivered a platform that fully meets the ever-increasing needs for governance and protection of sensitive data.

“iManage gives us the capabilities we need to continue to deliver the highest level of service to our clients,” said Jean McLeod, Chief Operating Officer, Stikeman Elliott. “iManage enables our professionals to work intuitively regardless of device or location. We see it as making ourselves future ready.”

Key factors in Stikeman Elliott’s decision encompassed the modern, intuitive user experience of iManage Work 10 and its built-in smart features that actively help lawyers work more efficiently. The firm also valued the integrated security management and powerful machine learning-based threat protection from iManage Threat Manager. Additionally, iManage Records Manager will support the firm’s information governance requirements. iManage Records Manager automates the management of physical and electronic content throughout the work product lifecycle — from creation to appropriate disposition of records when no longer required.

“Global professional services firms such as Stikeman Elliott expect their mission critical systems keep pace with market changes and capitalize on the latest technological innovations,” said Dan Carmel, Chief Marketing Officer, iManage. “With iManage, Stikeman Elliott is using the latest innovations in user centric software to work, increasing the firm’s ability to respond to its clients’ changing demands.”  

Follow iManage via:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/imanageinc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iManageinc/
Blog: https://imanage.com/blog/
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/imanage
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/imanage

About iManage
iManage transforms how professionals in legal, accounting and financial services get work done by combining the power of artificial intelligence with market leading document and email management. iManage automates routine cognitive tasks, provides powerful insights and streamlines how professionals work, while maintaining the highest level of security and governance over critical client and corporate data. Over one million professionals at over 3,000 organizations in over 65 countries – including more than 2,000 law firms and 500 corporate legal departments – rely on iManage to deliver great client work.

Press Contact Information:
Manjul Gupta
Head of Corporate Communications
iManage
Phone: 669-777-3430
press@imanage.com   


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Leading Canadian Law Firm Stikeman Elliott Lays Foundation for the Future with iManage Work Product Management

Firm selects iManage as best choice for its document and email management needs

CHICAGO, Nov. 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — iManage, the company dedicated to transforming how professionals work, today announced that Stikeman Elliott LLP — one of Canada’s leading business law firms — has selected iManage as its firm-wide Work Product Management platform.

/EIN News/ — After conducting a comprehensive internal review of its business processes and work product management needs, the firm sought a world-class, fully integrated solution. The solution had to address firm members changing needs and expectations around how technology can better support document and email management. iManage delivered a platform that fully meets the ever-increasing needs for governance and protection of sensitive data.

“iManage gives us the capabilities we need to continue to deliver the highest level of service to our clients,” said Jean McLeod, Chief Operating Officer, Stikeman Elliott. “iManage enables our professionals to work intuitively regardless of device or location. We see it as making ourselves future ready.”

Key factors in Stikeman Elliott’s decision encompassed the modern, intuitive user experience of iManage Work 10 and its built-in smart features that actively help lawyers work more efficiently. The firm also valued the integrated security management and powerful machine learning-based threat protection from iManage Threat Manager. Additionally, iManage Records Manager will support the firm’s information governance requirements. iManage Records Manager automates the management of physical and electronic content throughout the work product lifecycle — from creation to appropriate disposition of records when no longer required.

“Global professional services firms such as Stikeman Elliott expect their mission critical systems keep pace with market changes and capitalize on the latest technological innovations,” said Dan Carmel, Chief Marketing Officer, iManage. “With iManage, Stikeman Elliott is using the latest innovations in user centric software to work, increasing the firm’s ability to respond to its clients’ changing demands.”  

Follow iManage via:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/imanageinc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iManageinc/
Blog: https://imanage.com/blog/
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/imanage
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/imanage

About iManage
iManage transforms how professionals in legal, accounting and financial services get work done by combining the power of artificial intelligence with market leading document and email management. iManage automates routine cognitive tasks, provides powerful insights and streamlines how professionals work, while maintaining the highest level of security and governance over critical client and corporate data. Over one million professionals at over 3,000 organizations in over 65 countries – including more than 2,000 law firms and 500 corporate legal departments – rely on iManage to deliver great client work.

Press Contact Information:
Manjul Gupta
Head of Corporate Communications
iManage
Phone: 669-777-3430
press@imanage.com   


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Canadian Muslim group challenges Quebec face cover law

A Canadian Muslim group and a civil liberties association on Tuesday filed a challenge to a law in Quebec province that forbids face-covering by those who wish to access or provide public services.

The law represents “blatant and unjustified violations of freedom of religion”, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said in the filing in Quebec Superior Court.

They argue the new face-covering law takes direct aim at Muslims who wear a niqab or burka and runs contrary to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Both charters ban discrimination based on personal characteristics, including religion or creed.

At a news conference Tuesday in Montreal, Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the NCCM, said the law is discriminatory.

“Our legal challenge targets the heart of what this law really is: a discriminatory, unconstitutional and unnecessary piece of legislation that excludes and stigmatizes an already marginalized and vulnerable minority of women and, by extension, the larger Quebec Muslim community,” he said.

Under the law, public servants such as teachers and nurses are forbidden to wear any face covering while providing services.

Anyone who wishes to access public service, such as a student boarding a bus who wants a student fare, must uncover her face for identification purposes.

The Quebec government passed the law last month, reasoning it was to separate the state and religion, as well as allowing proper communication, identification and security in public services.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told Anadolu Agency her department is aware of the legal challenge and that the government does not want to dictate how Canadians should dress.

“We have been following the progress of Bill 62 and appreciate the importance of the issues it raises,” she said. “As the Prime Minister [Justin Trudeau] has said, we do not believe that the government should be telling people what they can and cannot wear.

“As Attorney General of Canada, I am committed to upholding the rights of all Canadians under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,”

The law was widely criticized, including by the Quebec association of municipalities, Montreal mayor-elect Valerie Plante and the premiers of Ontario and Alberta.

Two Quebec Muslim women were also included in the court filing.

Fatima Ahmad, 21, said she now avoids the bus in Montreal because she is afraid she will be asked to remove her niqab, compromising her religious beliefs.

At the news conference, Marie-Michelle Lacoste, who uses the name Warda Naili since she converted to Islam and adopted the niqab, said she has been “living in fear” the new law would stoke anti-Muslim feelings.

Quebec Minister of Justice Stephanie Vallee told reporters she believes the law will stand up to the legal challenge.

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Appleby law firm had strong Canadian, ties

It was to be a little tax haven in Nova Scotia.

The idea was simple: The companies would be registered in Bermuda but the people processing the paperwork would be in Halifax.

Appleby, the leading offshore law firm in the Paradise Papers leak, explored this vision for outsourcing its back office administrative functions in 2007.

With direct Bermuda to Halifax flights, “very reasonable operating costs” and “very significant payroll tax rebates,” the case for Halifax was strong.

But Appleby needed assurances that its clients, who had incorporated in a zero-tax jurisdiction, wouldn’t have to pay tax to Canada.

No problem, wrote Halifax lawyer Jim Cruickshank, who was hired to analyze the legal issues.

“We do not believe the activities of (Appleby) could in any way constitute your clients ‘carrying on business in Nova Scotia,’” Cruickshank wrote in a memo to Appleby.

What about extending offshore financial secrecy to the new office in Canada? For this, Cruickshank had a creative solution.

“We believe a ‘paperless office’ and ‘dummy terminals’ for (Appleby) would provide significant but not complete practical immunity from search and seizure by Canadian authorities.”

While the Halifax outsourcing project would never come to fruition, Appleby’s internal records reveal a preoccupation with secrecy that pervades tax havens. For this reason, governments around the world are targeting the law firms that operate in tax havens, to force them to reveal the hidden transactions that deprive public coffers of trillions of dollars each year.

Estimates put Canada’s own losses to offshore activity at $6 billion to $7.8 billion each year.

But tax haven secrecy has, once again, been pierced by a massive leak.

Unlike last year’s Panama Papers leak, which exposed Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, a firm that has been criticized as a bad apple in the offshore world, the Paradise Papers leak reveals the business of one of the world’s most prestigious blue-chip law firms, Appleby, which caters to the world’s biggest multinational corporations and the wealthiest families on the planet.

Appearing in Appleby’s files are:

Two generations of Liberal Party chief fundraisers, Leo Kolber and Stephen Bronfman, linked through a Cayman Islands trust fund. Through a lawyer, Kolber and Bronfman said they always acted “properly and

ethically, including fully complying with all applicable laws.”

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney, who sat on the board of Said Holdings, a Bermuda company controlled by Syrian-Saudi businessman Wafic Said. Said was a key intermediary in a British-Saudi oil-for-arms deal that led to a US$400-million criminal fine for bribery in 2010 against British airplane manufacturer BAE. Mulroney’s lawyer said he is “proud” to have served on the board and considers Said “a good friend.” Said said he is “proud of the role I played” in the arms deal.

Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien, who is listed as having received options in a Madagascar oil venture registered in Bermuda. He confirmed he consulted for the company in 2007 but says he never received any options.

Paul Martin’s former company, Canada Steamship Lines, which was one of Appleby’s “biggest clients.” CSL said it “uphold(s) the highest ethical and business standards,” while a spokesperson for Martin said he “has not been involved in CSL in over a quarter century.”

Much of the activity in tax havens is legal, and Appleby considers itself an ethical leader in the offshore industry. Documents found in the 6.8 million internal Appleby files in the leak show the firm was aware of multiple cases where it accepted dirty money.

The emails, client records, bank applications, court papers and other files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Star and CBC/Radio-Canada. They represent the inner workings of Appleby from the 1950s until 2016.

Canada is a big part of Appleby’s business. With more than 2,700 Canadians and 560 Canadian businesses named in the Appleby database — five times more Canadians than were in the Panama Papers — Canada is the firm’s fourth-biggest market behind the U.S., the U.K. and China.

Appleby has administered 1,450 offshore corporations and trusts with Canadian owners, officers or addresses, mostly in Bermuda. Its lawyers made regular trips to Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver to drum up business, meeting with accountants and lawyers.

Appleby billed Canadian clients and law firms at least $12 million from 2009 to 2013, documents show.

Canada has a long history of working closely with Caribbean tax havens, said Université de Quebec à Montreal Prof. Alain Deneault, who has written extensively on the subject. “We’re so connected to tax havens they’ve become an integral part of our economy. In the end, all the large Canadian companies and family fortunes are structured to circumvent Canadian laws in such a way to allow the owners to avoid taxes.”

Among the Canadian companies who hired Appleby to set up offshore businesses are:

The Montreal Canadiens set up two trusts in Bermuda, including an employee benefit fund that was shut down in 2010. The organization says its offshore business was “in full compliance with the existing Canadian tax legislation.”

Food giant Loblaw says it paid all appropriate taxes on the two subsidiaries it set up with Appleby’s help in Barbados and Bermuda in 2005. They were used to insure cardholder balances from its President’s Choice Financial MasterCard, according to leaked documents.

Hydro-Quebec incorporated an offshore company in Bermuda to invest in power generation projects in China, even though the company is exempt from income tax in Canada. A representative for the utility said the company was dissolved in 2007 and capital gains taxes were paid.

Brookfield, a Canadian investment giant, set up Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP) in Bermuda to hold international investments. Documents show how the company set up 29 corporations and limited partnerships in nine jurisdictions in a 48-step “specific sequencing” to “ensure” that units of BIP “are not taxable Canadian property.” A company spokesperson said “the tax treatment of partnerships like BIP . . . is the same whether they are domiciled in Bermuda, Canada or the U.S.”

Appleby also performed offshore services for many regular Canadians, including doctors, engineers, geologists, housewives, a police officer, a speech pathologist and a retired admiral in the Canadian navy.

The database also contains a Bermudan company incorporated by Gerald Bull, the late Quebec engineer who attempted to develop a supergun to shoot satellites into space but ended up working on a massive cannon for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Also in Appleby’s files is online gambling baron Isai Scheinberg, who started the online gambling site PokerStars but ran afoul of U.S. authorities and is now actively wanted by the FBI.

While Appleby prides itself on its high ethical standards and has been named “offshore law firm of the year,” internal documents reveal that it hasn’t always succeeded in keeping out questionable clients.

“Some of the crap we accept is amazing totally amazing,” state presentation notes prepared by Appleby’s director of compliance in 2011. “We have a current case where we are sitting on about 400K that is definitely tainted and it is not easy to deal with.”

“MONEY LAUNDERING IS A DIRTY CRIME,” screamed notes accompanying the PowerPoint presentation. “THERE IS USUALLY ALWAYS A VICTIM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PILE AND A RICH PERSON AT THE TOP.”

The firm did not answer detailed questions from the ICIJ and the Star.

“We are an offshore law firm who advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. We do not tolerate illegal behaviour. It is true that we are not infallible. Where we find that mistakes have happened we act quickly to put things right and we make the necessary notifications to the relevant authorities,” Appleby stated after it was contacted about the leak.

Appleby is already publicly associated with the Bermuda Longtail Trust, one of the biggest tax scams in recent Canadian history.

The scam, originally revealed by a Star investigation in 2007, duped almost 10,000 people, including nurses, teachers and at least one police officer, into making donations to bogus charities in order to receive a tax receipt worth four times more. Appleby administered the trust for Canadian businessman Edward Furtak. The trust had collected more than $100 million by the time the Canada Revenue Agency got wise to the scheme, and a group of clients sued. Appleby settled the class action for $17.5 million last summer. The firm admitted no wrongdoing.

As governments around the world have turned their attention to cracking down on offshore tax evasion — including almost $1 billion pledged to the CRA in the last two years — Appleby has publicly defended the use of tax havens (also known as “offshore financial centres” or OFCs).

“The myth perpetuated by the OECD and G-20 nations is that OFCs encourage tax evasion,” wrote two Appleby lawyers in the Cayman Islands Journal. “In reality, excessive tax burdens in welfare states encourage tax evasion, leading to capital flight to OFCs. Logic dictates that if politicians wish to eliminate capital flight, they should lower their country’s oppressive taxes.”

Appleby’s Canadian lawyers practised what they preached.

All of them left the country to avoid paying Canadian taxes, according to an email sent by the firm’s managing partner in the BVI, Michael Burns.

Twenty-one of Appleby’s 182 lawyers spread out across the globe were educated in Canada, one indication of the surprisingly strong Canadian presence in Caribbean tax havens.

Burns, who declined to comment for this article, worried that a Halifax branch would draw these tax expats back into the reach of the CRA.

“Are you able to provide us with any general guidance as to any possible concerns that might arise, such as a liability to Canadian tax?” Burns inquired of his contacts in Halifax.

The CRA returned to Appleby with warm reassurances that no taxes in Canada would be owing if the firm decided to come. An advanced tax ruling in 2008 guaranteed Appleby that any future business in Halifax would not require staff — or its clients — to pay Canadian taxes.

Despite that green light, the firm ultimately bailed on the plan to bring a little piece of Bermudan tax haven to Halifax.

“With regret, we are not now likely to take up the opportunity at this time of proceeding with the Halifax Outsourcing Platform,” Burns wrote in 2009. “Isle of Man was already our top choice for outsourcing, for many reasons, although Halifax was a very close second.”

With files from Will Fitzgibbon, ICIJ. Data analysis by Andrew Bailey and Valerie Ouellet.

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Canadian government facing resistance from Senate over pot law

The Canadian government’s plan to legalize recreational marijuana by next July could be in jeopardy, with opposition brewing among some in the Senate and concerns that the deadline to pass the bill is rapidly approaching.

The Senate’s approval is needed to pass laws though it does not often block bills passed by the elected House of Commons. Some senators say police need more time to prepare and also oppose setting the federal age of legal use at 18.

Legalizing marijuana for recreational use was part of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2015 election campaign and the government has set a relatively quick deadline to put it in place. Canada would be the first Group of Seven country to allow the drug nationally.

The legislation is not expected to reach the upper house until December and some senators have said they will take as long as they need to review it.

That could put Trudeau and the upper house of parliament at loggerheads again. Senators, who are not elected, recently delayed the government’s budget bill before ultimately passing it.

Conservative Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu said he expects implementation will need to be delayed until December 2018 or early 2019 to give police forces enough time to prepare for widespread use of the drug.

“I think it’s too early,” Boisvenu said on Friday by phone.”What they’ve (the police) told us until today is they will not be prepared next July.”

Boisvenu said Conservative senators will meet to discuss strategy about delaying the bill if necessary.

Member of Parliament Bill Blair, a former police chief and the government’s point person on the legislation, said added delays in regulation will put more underage users at risk.

“By all means, take the time to do it right, but unnecessary delay is unacceptable,” Blair said by phone.

The potential clash highlights a hurdle Trudeau has partly set up for himself after he expelled all Liberal senators from the party’s caucus in 2014 amid an expenses scandal and to curb partisanship.

Although Trudeau has appointed independent senators since then, he has no formal leverage to get the government’s legislation passed.

“The government, if it had a clear majority in the Senate, could at one point impose party discipline and have its bill voted on. It’s not in that situation now,” said Senator Andre Pratte, an independent who was appointed by Trudeau in 2016.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

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Canadian Court Says Law Enforcement Doesn’t Have To Hand Over Info On Stingray Devices

from the go-ahead-and-stack-the-deck dept

A Canadian court has ruled information about law enforcement’s not-all-that-secret cell tower spoofers can stay secret. An ongoing attempted murder trial has implicated the use of Stingray devices. Prosecutors have refused to turn over information about the devices to the defendants — something that at first provoked some consternation from the presiding judge. (via Slashdot)

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Glen Poelman initially agreed with defence lawyers Kelsey Sitar and Clayton Rice and granted them the right to question the CPS officer involved in using the MDI regarding its make, model, features and the circumstances that may or may not affect its use.

Unfortunately, prosecutors were able to sway the judge’s opinion during an in camera briefing. The government invoked part of the Canada Evidence Act, granting it an apparent disclosure exemption on the theory handing over make and model information would be “contrary to the public interest.”

Poelman has ruled the police investigative techniques are privileged, and he prohibited the release of the make, model and software of the MDI as well as “any further information which would have the effect of disclosing the technique by which MDI obtains cellphone identifier information.”

This may end the line of discovery as it relates to law enforcement’s IMSI catchers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the prosecution will be able to move forward. The defense plans to challenge the lawfulness of the prosecution itself. Withholding evidence possibly crucial to the defense doesn’t make for a fair trial and it appears the defense will argue charges should be dropped if information isn’t going to be produced. It’s not like there isn’t any precedent to work with. Earlier this year, the government chose to let 35 accused Mafia members go free rather than discuss Stingray use in court.

Clayton Rice, who is representing one of the accused in this case, has graciously sent over a copy of the court’s ruling [PDF] on the issue. (This ruling was under a publication ban until mid-morning Tuesday.) Rice points out this is only an interim ruling and doesn’t necessarily represent the final word on the subject. The court has granted the government the (possibly temporary) right to withhold certain information about its cell tower spoofers, which includes its make and model. The order is heavily redacted, which is one of the reasons it’s only now being released despite having been decided back in August.

What can be sussed out from the redacted discussion is that the Calgary Police do not possess an actual Stingray — the sort made by Harris Corp. That much is made clear in the ruling. The method used for tracking phones is also withheld, even though the technique used by the CPS has apparently been discussed publicly before. But you won’t be able to find that information in the court’s decision.

[I]t could be argued that all elements of CPS’s MDI investigative techinique are publicly known. However, the Crown argues that it is not known that the CPS’s MDI uses the [redacted] method, and the fact that information about the [redacted] procedure may be publicly accessilbe is not the same (especially in the internet age) as a police service verifying is accuracy or confirming publicly that this is the procedure they use. It is not necessarily well-known. The only public information about which Sgt. Campbell is aware that discussed the [redacted] technique is the [very lengthy redaction to end of paragraph.]

For the time being, however, the Calgary Police’s cellphone interception hardware will remain a mystery. The question now is whether that desire for secrecy will cost the Crown its prosecution.

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