Why You Shouldn’t Worry About China’s New ‘Hypersonic’ Nuclear Death Machine

Nervous ripples spread across U.S. social media Monday night (Sept. 30), as reports spread of China unveiling a scary-sounding new nuclear missile at a military parade.

The missile is designed to move very fast, even for a ballistic missile. (That’s why they call it “hypersonic.”) It approaches its target at a lower altitude. And it can make abrupt changes in direction that make it hard to track or hit with an interceptor.

An Associated Press tweet put the news in particularly alarming terms.

“China’s military shows off a new hypersonic ballistic nuclear missile believed capable of breaching all existing anti-missile shields deployed by the U.S. and its allies,” the AP wrote above a link to an article describing the event.
The AP isn’t wrong. The Dongfeng-17, described as a “hypersonic glider,” is specifically designed to be more difficult than usual to knock out of the sky, according to multiple news reports. But Americans don’t need to worry that China is suddenly able to breach the safety and security of U.S. missile defenses. That’s because U.S. missile defenses aren’t safe or secure at all, experts have long said.

As Laura Grego, a senior scientists and expert in nuclear issues at the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote back in 2017, the only shield the U.S. has is the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD). But the GMD basically doesn’t work. It’s not well-tested, Grego said. In tests conducted under ideal conditions — no bad weather, no countermeasures — the GMD has only been able to knock a missile out of the sky four out of 10 times. In the real world, she wrote, we should expect them to work even less often.

It’s just very hard to hit a missile with a missile in outer space.

Temporary policy change lets visitors with job offers apply for work permits without leaving Canada

Visitors with a job offer can now apply for a work permit and, upon approval, receive such permit without needing to leave the country, care of a temporary public policy change.

Effective immediately, individuals who have a valid status as a visitor, who were in Canada on Aug. 24 and who stayed in the country since, who have a valid job offer and who comply with all the other admissibility requirements can apply for an employer-specific work permit, according to a news release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Applications must be submitted by Mar. 31, 2021 and should include a Labour Market Impact Assessment or an LMIA-exempt offer of employment. All visitors who comply with the aforementioned criteria may apply, including super visa holders, business visitors, and persons who entered Canada through a Global Skills Strategy work permit exemption.

Eligible applicants who meet all the criteria and who held a valid work permit within the past 12 months may also start working for a new employer prior to the full approval of their work permit applications by following the required steps.

The temporary policy change aims to benefit both visitors and employers. The government seeks to address the situation in which, following air travel restrictions, visitors could not leave the country. Some foreign workers also needed to change their status to visitor due to the expiry of their work permit and the lack of a new job offer to apply for a new work permit. The change is expected to help these individuals maintain their valid legal status.

“This exemption from the normal temporary work permit requirements is aimed at removing barriers to create a more agile workforce that leverages visitors with the skills and experience to accelerate our economic recovery,” said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E.L. Mendicino.

Employers, notably those providing important goods and services to Canadians and who are experiencing labour and skills shortages amid the pandemic, may potentially also benefit from this change.

Before, those applying as temporary residents to Canada typically had to apply for their work permits before arriving in the country. Visitors to Canada who received approvals for their work permits were also required to leave the country and then return before they could receive their work permits.

Algorithmic policing risks intensifying systemic racism, harm privacy and Charter rights: report

A new report on algorithmic policing technologies is calling for a moratorium on their use until the Government carries out a comprehensive examination of their human rights implications and necessary legal reforms.

The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School and the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law released the report, “To Surveil and Predict: A Human Rights Analysis of Algorithmic Policing in Canada,” on Tuesday. The report states that two police services – Vancouver and Saskatoon – have confirmed they are currently using or developing predictive algorithmic technologies, and other police forces have acquired technologies that provide that capability.

The report warns that these technologies risk reinforcing systemic bias against Black and Indigenous people and threaten the privacy and Charter rights of everyone. The Canadian legal system is currently without sufficient safeguards to ensure algorithmic policing is applied constitutionally and with the proper regulatory, judicial and legislative oversight, states the report.

“The top line finding is that there are algorithmic policing technologies being used and under development and consideration in Canada,” says Cynthia Khoo, a research fellow at the Citizen Lab and a technology and human rights lawyer.

“There’s enough evidence to show that there’s a tremendous risk of human rights violations if we’re not careful about the implementation of these technologies, and in deciding whether you even use them at all.”

Algorithmic policing technology are a variety of different tools which draw inferences from mass-data-processing to predict potential unlawful activity or analyse data through automated surveillance. The technology complements traditional investigative methods and allows police to more effectively allocate resources. Facial recognition, automated license plate readers and social media surveillance algorithms are forms of this technology. In general, its use is more widespread in the U.S. and the UK than in Canada, said the report.

The report warns that because of the use of historical police data, historically marginalized groups may find themselves fed through a “negative feedback loop.” Past systemic bias will be multiplied because the algorithm will read the historic bias as reason to label them a heightened risk.

“There are critical questions to be answered regarding whether algorithmic surveillance technologies should be used at all given known problems regarding inaccuracy, ineffectiveness, and biases in the technologies,” says Kate Robertson report co-author, Citizen Lab research fellow and criminal defence lawyer at Markson Law in Toronto.

Roundup of law firm hires, promotions and departures: Sept. 2 update

Welcome to this week’s roundup of movements among major law firms, in which we sum up significant hires, promotions, departures and other announcements.


The Toronto-based firm has appointed Kimberly Srivastava as its new managing partner. Srivastava is a litigator who has participated in cases with issues involving human rights, education accommodation, disability accommodation and sexual harassment. She has acted for clients before the Human Rights Tribunal, the Divisional Court and the Social Benefits Tribunal.
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Daniel J. Michaluk has joined BLG as a partner in its Toronto office and as a member of its corporate commercial group. Michaluk has experience in the fields of privacy, cybersecurity and freedom of information.

“Our clients will also benefit greatly from his education and public sector expertise, as well as his nearly 20 years’ experience,” said Frank Callaghan, national group head of the firm’s corporate and capital markets group.

Fogler, Rubinoff LLP

Tim Duncan is a partner in the insolvency and restructuring group of the Toronto-based firm. Duncan is a litigator who has advised debtors and creditors under operational and financial distress and who has experience in the areas of commercial re-organizations, bankruptcies, receiverships and restructurings proceedings under the CBCA, CCAA and BIA.

More healthcare deals to come under Investment Act scrutiny in wake of Covid-19: Stikeman lawyer

The federal government’s intention to scrutinize foreign investments in the Canadian healthcare industry in a post-pandemic world underscores the importance of assessing any potential national security concerns early on in the deal making process, says Michael Laskey, a partner in Stikeman Elliott’s Competition & Foreign Investment Group.

“We’re going to see [the government] take a more careful look at these kinds of situations, situations where critical health production could be moving outside the country,” Laskey says. While he doesn’t think that this will necessarily mean more blocked transactions, it will likely mean “longer reviews, more questions being asked and ultimately more commitments” from potential acquirers when it comes to things like maintaining jobs in Canada, capital expenditure in Canada, where production will be based, and access to the products or services for Canadians.

The Investment Review Division of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada said in a memo released in April that while each investment will continue to be examined on its own merits, it will scrutinize foreign direct investments of any value, controlling or non-controlling, in Canadian businesses that are related to public health or involved in the supply of critical goods and services to Canadians or to the government. As well, the memo says the Innovation Minister could also requesting additional information or extensions of timelines for review as authorized by the Investment Canada Act, in order to ensure that the government can fully assess these investments.

Even non-control transactions that typically are not subject to a filing requirement, or where the parties involved may not consider national security to be a material factor, could be examined.

In its memo, the IRD specifically raised concerns about Canadian businesses seeing valuations decline because of the pandemic and worries that these declines could lead to “opportunistic investment behaviour.” The Minister may request additional information or extensions of timelines for review as authorized by the ICA, to ensure that the government can fully assess these investments.

Despite this new scrutiny, the federal government is expected to continue to strongly support foreign direct investment, Laskey says, but concerns of national security regarding the country’s healthcare sector will take more priority. He said that the government, and Canadians, are sensitive to the need for Canada to have the healthcare capacity to deal with situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic. He points to the shortages of Personal Protective Equipment in the early days of the pandemic in Canada, and statements from governments like the U.S. saying they want to ensure that their own populations have access to vaccines and other coronavirus-related healthcare products and treatments which could hurt Canadians.

Laskey adds that in his experience, there is “always a compromise to be reached,” and that the appropriate balance of national security concerns and net benefits to Canada can, and likely will, be achieved. However, investment by State Owned Enterprises, or investors seen to being tied to foreign governments can expect greater scrutiny. Sensitivity around SOE investment in Canada has regularly been an issue, whether it comes to technology, resources, and now healthcare.

“Foreign investors will have to be respectful of the process,” Laskey says, and will have to build into the planning and preparation, but ultimately we’ll see successful outcomes. “I don’t see a wave of blocked deals, or a wave of deals where the requirements are so burdensome that they are uneconomical.”

Four late-stage cancer patients granted legal exemption to use magic mushrooms for therapy

Federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu has approved the application by four terminal Canadian cancer patients to use psilocybin, commonly known as magic mushrooms or shrooms, for their end-of-life therapy.

The patients’ application invoked s. 56 (1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, SC 1996, c 19, which gives the federal health minister the power to grant an exemption from any provision of the legislation upon the belief that the exemption is needed for a medical or scientific purpose or is in the public interest.

This is the first time that anyone has been publicly granted an exemption to access psychedelic therapy under the legislation, and also the first time that any patient has legally used the compound since it was first declared illegal in the country back in 1974, said a news release from TheraPsil, a non-profit coalition that fights for compassionate legal access to psilocybin therapy for palliative Canadians.

“Although it has taken a long time we are impressed with [the federal health minister’s and the government’s] willingness to listen to patients who have not been heard and to shift focus and policy to accommodate their interests and protect their needs,” said Dr. Bruce Tobin, founder and chairman of TheraPsil.

Tobin and TheraPsil had supported the four patients with their application, which was initiated in 2017 and initially denied in March this year. Upon review, however, the four patients received approvals on compassionate grounds.

Laurie Brooks, one of the four patients granted an approval, said that she hoped that “this is just the beginning and that soon all Canadians will be able to access psilocybin, for therapeutic use, to help with the pain they are experiencing, without having to petition the government for months to gain permission.”

TheraPsil said in the news release that it expected other applications seeking exemptions under the legislation to follow.

“The recent grant of the section 56 exemption by the Minister of Health for the legal use of psilocybin may represent a watershed moment for further exemptions on a similar basis,” said McMillan LLP in a news release.

Personal costs ordered for trustees who showed ‘persistent lack of self-awareness’

In a recent case before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, a testamentary trustee and estate trustee both sought costs following their conduct during the litigation that the court described as showing a “continued and persistent lack of self-awareness.”

Cardinal v. Perreault, 2020 ONSC 4825 involved the issue of costs in two court applications in connection with the estate of Joseph Edmond Beaulieu, which had an estimated gross value of $339,000. The first is an application for directions filed by Roger Cardinal, the testamentary trustee. The second is an application for the passing of accounts filed by Ginette Perreault, the estate trustee.

Various actions undertaken by both parties caused difficulties and delays in the court proceedings. On the part of Perreault, she initially resisted Cardinal’s reasonable request for accounting. Her counsel also complained about the court proceedings being conducted in French and about the translation costs he had to spend.

Justice Ria Tzimas, writing for the Superior Court, said that Perreault’s conduct showed a lack of understanding about her obligations as estate trustee. On the other hand, Cardinal attacked Perreault’s integrity and personal dignity and made allegations of bad faith and misappropriation of funds.

Tzimas cited Rule 57.01(1) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194, which contains a non-exhaustive list of factors that the court will consider when exercising its discretion to award fair and reasonable costs, with the overriding principle being reasonableness.

“In the context of estates litigation, it is useful to note the Ontario Court of Appeal’s direction that the modern approach to fixing costs in such cases is to carefully scrutinize the litigation and to follow the costs rules that apply in civil litigation, unless public policy considerations dictated otherwise,” wrote Tzimas.

Tzimas tackled a few of the factors under Rule 57.01. As to the complexity and importance of the issues of the case, both sides became entrenched in their respective legal positions, which complicated the issues and the proceedings, wrote Tzimas. As to the parties’ conduct, Cardinal’s allegations against Perreault were reprehensible, while Perreault’s actions, though lacking in efficiency, were not reprehensible, Tzimas wrote.

The court, considering Rule 57.01 factors and the proportionality of costs in relation to what was in issue and to the size of the estate, awarded Cardinal costs of the application for directions at $18,000, which was 60 per cent of his full indemnity costs, and awarded Perreault costs of the application for the passing of accounts at $48,000. The net amount came to $30,000 in favour of Perreault. The court disallowed the translation costs sought by Perreault’s counsel.

UManitoba Law names David Asper as acting dean

The University of Manitoba Faculty of Law has announced the appointment of David Asper as its acting dean, effective July 1.

Asper is a criminal defence litigator, known for acting on behalf of David Milgaard in the prominent wrongful conviction case. In 2019, he received a designation as Queen’s Counsel from the Province of Manitoba. He has worked in various committees of the Law Society of Manitoba.

Asper holds a bachelor’s degree and an honorary degree from the University of Manitoba, a Masters in Law from the University of Toronto and a Juris Doctor from the California Western School of Law. He has served as an assistant professor and as a sessional lecturer in the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law and has taught at Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin School of Law and at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
Asper, who is committed to philanthropic and community initiatives, has contributed his efforts and resources to the Asper Foundation, where he served for seven years as chairperson, to the David and Ruth Asper Research Centre at the Pan Am Clinic Foundation in Winnipeg and to the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto, which has initiated numerous legal challenges invoking the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For his work, he has received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Sol Kanee Distinguished Community Service Medal in 2018.

In the news release announcing the appointment, the university said that felt “honoured to have Mr. Asper serve in this acting role in one of Canada’s oldest law schools, where he will surely inspire the next generation to pursue truth, justice and the betterment of all.”

New Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu decries toppling of statues, calls to defund police

The new Minister of Justice in Alberta — the first Black politician in Canada to hold such a position — says that while he sympathizes with those who are protesting for social justice reforms, he “absolutely” decries calls to defund the police and is pained when he sees acts of vandalism such as tearing down monuments of those who helped found this country.

“I understand the concerns that people have,” says Kaycee Madu, who was promoted to Justice Minister, from his previous post of Minister of Municipal Affairs, in August. He says he is “particularly pained” by the tearing down of the statue of Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A Macdonald, in Montreal this past weekend.

“No leader is perfect and tearing down statues of our founding fathers is not going to solve any problems.” Says Madu — who replaces Calgary-Elbow MLA Doug Schweitzer, who was moved to a newly rebranded Jobs, Economy and Innovation Portfolio. He says his “historic” appointment as justice minister comes at an important time, when Black and other minority communities are leading a fight against systemic racism.

“I do think that in the midst of all this, I am privileged to live in one of the freest countries, and provinces, in the world.” However, there is a need to continue to make reforms even better and to “address concerns from those communities,” he says.

“We must continue to live true to the creed of our founding fathers,” Madu says. While coming from a different time in history, “they had the vision to build a world and a society in which it doesn’t matter where you come from, and that justice is available to every single Canadian.”

Madu, who was born in Nigeria and came to Canada in 2005, says the argument made by some anti-racism protesters to defund police forces as an approach to reforming justice is simply wrong.

“I do not think that any sane, balanced-minded person would want to take away resources from the police when there are safety issues that law enforcement needs to tackle.” He adds that while there are always “bad apples” in any profession, the men and women who join the police forces “take on enormous risk” to keep communities safe. “Defunding police is something that I absolutely oppose,” he says. “It is not going to help us get to the promised land or build a more . . . perfect nation.”

Those calling for police defunding — including those in the Black Lives Matter movement — say that reallocating money from police departments into other services, such as mental health, is a better approach, and some suggest defunding police entirely.

Legal tech company releases toolkit summarizing e-filing requirements across Canada

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, courts have been allowing e-filing more as a way to prevent physical contact through expanding its use of technology. Toronto legal research software provider CiteRight saw a need and has just filled it with the launch of a free e-filing toolkit.

The toolkit summarizes the requirements for e-filing for every jurisdiction in Canada that allows it. It follows on the heels of a COVID-19 courts resource that the company launched in March, and its core CiteRight product launched last year, which is a platform that allows legal teams to work together and to automatically cite sources.

“In building a tool to help lawyers comply with court requirements and generate properly formatted submissions, it meant that we learned a lot about how the courts operate,” says CiteRight founder and CEO Aaron Wenner. “And … so we were able to turn that around and say, ‘Okay, well, how can we generate more information about this that’s helpful to the wider legal community?’” The result was the online COVID resource — a daily update of how the courts’ practice records are changing in response to coronavirus — and then the e-filing toolkit.
“As we started speaking to our customers, we heard that this thing, electronic filing, was becoming implemented more widely across Canada, but that the rules were really hard to find,” says Wenner. “We felt like we could make those rules a lot more accessible to the general public by just extracting the core parts, rather than having to read an entire document at a glance.”

Wenner is trained as a lawyer (McGill Law, then articling for a large Bay Street firm), and experienced a lot of problems that CiteRight is trying to solve, he says. “When it came to the coronavirus and e-filing, I realized there was a crisis. It feels like giving back to the legal community … but coming from my background, we care about making resources available. We have a general interest in contributing.”

“What we’ve done is look at every single place in Canada that allows e-filing, and extract common elements across all of them. Do you submit by email? Is there a filing fee? A naming convention [for files]? … For every jurisdiction, we’ve filled out that list. … We’ve summarized those rules for every single jurisdiction in Canada that allows e-filing, and if there’s more than one branch in that court. It provides an at-a-glance summary for electronic submission of court materials.”

CiteRight counts some of Canada’s largest law firms as its clients, and Wenner says the response to both its core product and to the toolkit has been very gratifying; “our site traffic has doubled, and we’re continuing to grow.

All of CiteRight’s products have been built in close partnership with its users, and new information, such as filing fees, was recently added in.