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Women Legal Studies

Both cases can be found at the Supreme Court of Canada decisions website, at the links given below. You can find hard copies of the case in any library which carries law reporters.

•For this assignment, keep your case comment simple. Your case comment will be complete if you do the following things:
1.state the issue or issues that are the focus of the comment;
2.mention whatever facts are necessary to give context to the issue(s);
3.discuss how the court decided the issue(s);
4.discuss (briefly) any wider implications of the decision that you can determine;
5.provide a final, closing comment on whether you agree with the court’s decision, and give the reasons why.
Your case comment doesn’t need to follow the exact order of the components above. Depending on your argument, a different ordering may promote a better logical flow. However, if you do follow the order above, your case comment will be reasonably well–organized.

•Make sure that you really understand the issue(s). The best way to do that is to read the case many times. Read the entire case even if you only discuss one issue among many.
•Your ability to write clearly and correctly is critical and will heavily affect your mark. Use simple language, short(er) sentences and precise words.
•A good strategy is to read your argument aloud. If it sounds confusing or unclear, it will come across that way to the reader.

Case 1

Newfoundland (Treasury Board) v. NAPE, [2004] 3 S.C.R. 381

In 1988, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador signed a Pay Equity Agreement in favour of female employees in the health care sector which included those represented in collective bargaining by the appellant union.
In 1991, the same government introduced the Public Sector Restraint Act, which deferred the commencement of the promised pay equity increase (section 9) from 1988 to 1991 and extinguished the 1988–1991 arrears. Section 9 effectively erased the Province’s obligation to pay out approximately $24 million. The justification was that the government was experiencing a financial crisis unprecedented in the Province’s history. The government adopted other severe measures to reduce the Province’s deficit, including a freeze on wage scales for public sector employees, a closure of hospital beds and a freeze on per capita student grants and equalization grants to school boards. It also laid off almost two thousand employees and terminated publicly–funded medical care coverage for certain items. Grievances were filed on behalf of some female employees affected by the cut to pay equity. The Arbitration Board ordered the government to comply with the original terms of the Pay Equity Agreement, holding that section 9 of the Act infringed section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the infringement could not be justified under section 1. On judicial review, the motions judge quashed the Board’s decision and dismissed the grievances. He agreed that section 9 infringed section 15(1) but found the infringement justifiable under section 1. The Court of Appeal upheld the motions judge’s decision. One appeal judge suggested that explicit recognition of the separation of powers doctrine should be added to the section 1 test. The case was further appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which is the decision referenced for this assignment.

Case 2

Trociuk v. British Columbia (A.G.), [2003] 1 S.C.R. 835

The appellant and the respondent in this case are the estranged father and mother of triplets. The mother (the appellant) filled out and submitted the statement of live birth on her own and marked the father (the respondent) as unacknowledged by the mother. She alone chose and registered the children’s surname, pursuant to sections 3(1)(b) and 4(1)(a) of the British Columbia Vital Statistics Act. Under section 3(6)(b) of the Act, the father is precluded from altering the registration. Accordingly, the Director of Vital Statistics refused both of the father’s requests to have the birth registration forms amended to include his identity. The British Columbia Supreme Court dismissed the father’s request for a declaration that the legislation violates section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court of Appeal, in a majority judgment, upheld that decision. The decision referenced for this assignment comes from the Supreme Court of Canada.

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