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Digest of the Week — Intervening for Housing Rights

2013 CarswellOnt 4035 |
Tanudjaja v. Canada (Attorney General) |
Ontario Superior Court of Justice |

Judgment: April 3, 2013

Centre of Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) and individual applicants brought application proposing that adequate housing is right under Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) — CERA took position that governments of Canada and Ontario had made decisions that had eroded access to affordable housing and had acted to deny right to individual applicants and others — Applicants alleged that decisions of governments breached of ss. 7 and 15 of Charter — Respondents argued that neither ss. 7 or 15 of Charter included general right to housing and moved to have application dismissed — Motions by Charter Committee Coalition, Amnesty Coalition, Asper Centre, ACORN Coalition and ARCH Coalition to intervene, as friends of court, in motion to dismiss Charter application — Motions by Charter Committee Coalition, Amnesty Coalition and Asper Coalition granted on terms; motions by ACORN Coalition and ARCH Coalition dismissed — Question on motion to intervene required balancing of contribution of prospective intervener could make against prejudice its participation might cause — Contributions to motion made by Charter Committee Coalition, ARCH Coalition and ACORN Coalition reflected desire to show nature of problems and difficulties faced by groups they represented in obtaining adequate housing — Their interests were not informed by narrow question on motion, but, by broader questions surrounding difficulties of those they represented had in finding housing — Perspectives arose from nature of challenges that people they represented confronted in locating adequate housing — Charter Committee Coalition proposed to demonstrate, however, expertise in respect of issue of whether ss. 7 and 15 of Charter must be interpreted such that it was plain and obvious that application could not succeed — Charter Committee Coalition permitted to intervene on terms directed to scope of intervention — Amnesty Coalition and Asper Centre had specialized expertise in respect of issue and could make useful contributions to motion — Amnesty Coalition had expertise dealing with international treaties and their impact on Canadian law — Asper Centre had expertise in area of Canadian constitutional law which could be brought to bear on whether court had authority, ability or jurisdiction to make remedial orders sought.

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