Tort Tuesday: Charter challenge for anti-terror law

Protesters demonstratate against Bill C-51 during a rally in Vancouver, British Columbia April 18, 2015.  REUTERS/Ben Nelms

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Harper government is facing a constitutional challenge to one if its premier pieces of legislation.

Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are teaming up to challenge the government’s vaunted and very controversial anti-terror law, Bill C-51.

The bill, which became law in June, creates broad and dangerous new powers, without commensurate accountability, and this can result in serious mistakes,” CCLA Executive Director Sukanya Pillay said in a news release. “It creates broad and dangerous new powers, without commensurate accountability, and this can result in serious mistakes.”

See: Bill C-51 cheat sheet

The two groups are contesting five specific parts of the law including the broad new powers granted to CSIS, the Criminal Code amendment that outlaws “advocating or promoting terrorism” and the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act.

Uber-exploited employees?

Ride-booking services like Uber and Lyft sell themselves as an easy and flexible moneymaker with “no office, no boss.” Not mentioned: “no security, no benefits.”

Both companies classify their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, but two new class-action suits aim to change that.

Both suits, filed in the U.S., accuse Uber and Lyft of intentionally misclassifying its workers as a scheme to pocket more profits and demand refunds for work-related expenses, such as gas, parking and insurance.

Currently, an independent contractor pays costs themselves, then claims the expenses on tax returns.

While both suits are filed in the U.S., they could have a significant impact in Canada since a win for contractors will force significant changes for Uber and Lyft’s business models.

It seems the wind is blowing against them, too. The California Labor Commission recently ruled Uber drivers are employees, and the U.S. Department of Labor just released a report saying most companies are misclassifying their workers.

$4M for meat recall suit

The lawsuit over largest meat recall in Canadian history ended with a hefty settlement.

XL Foods agreed to pay out $4 million to settle the class action suit over the massive recall of tainted beef in 2012.

The bulk of the money goes to consumers who got sick, including some who suffered E. coli poisoning, but some cash is also earmarked for health-care providers who assisted victims and for shoppers who had to trash the tainted product.

The number of claimants isn’t yet known, but it’s figured that some customers in Alberta, Ontario and parts of the U.S. could be eligible for part of the payout.

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