The White House recently announced that the next G7 summit will take place at Donald Trump’s privately-owned Miami golf resort. It seems clear that President Trump will obtain a personal financial benefit from the United States hosting this major international event. US critics are calling the decision to hold the G7 at a Trump property illegal and even unconstitutional. For Canada and other G7 members with anti-corruption laws, the question should be, can they lawfully attend?
I recently wrote about the important comments Nadon JA made in Turp v Canada 2018 FCA 133 against resorting to expert evidence when making international legal submissions before Canadian courts. I think Nadon JA is absolutely right about this, and I hope courts around the country will follow his lead.
But I disagree with Nadon JA on another aspect of the Turp case. He held (unanimously, and upholding Tremblay-Lamer J on this point in the court below) that the appellant, Prof. Daniel Turp, could not raise Canada’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions in a judicial review of the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ decision to licence the export of Canadian-made light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. That conclusion is hard to reconcile with cases, especially since Baker v Canada (MCI)  2 SCR 817, in which courts have considered Canada’s international legal obligations in judicial review proceedings. More significantly, I think Nadon JA’s conclusion is contrary to one of the foundational rules of the Canadian reception system, namely that treaties don’t take direct effect in domestic law without legislative implementation.
In Ontario (Children’s Lawyer) v. Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner) 2018 ONCA 559 (18 June 2018), Benotto JA for the Court of Appeal for Ontario invokes the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 repeatedly (and in my view correctly) despite its supposedly unimplemented status in Canadian law. She frames her use of the Convention as part of the contextual approach to statutory interpretation without purporting to apply the presumption of conformity with international law. But the end result is the same: an interpretation of domestic law in line with our treaty obligations.
In a recent debate in the Senate, the Hon. Murray Sinclair made some important comments about Bill C-262, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. His powerful and moving speech is worth reading for many reasons, but I am especially interested in what he considers the legal effect of Bill C-262 will be. In short, he does not think this bill will implement the Declaration in federal law. I agree.