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Canada (Attorney General) v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society 2012 SCC 45

Facts:

D is a BC organization by and for sex workers in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. Members face disability, poverty, addiction and other barriers.

Issue(s):

Should public interest standing be granted to D?

Ratio:

See below for new public interest standing test

Analysis:

Downtown Eastside leaves the Borowski test unclear. Makes what was previously a rule a less clear standard.

the courts weigh three factors in light of these underlying purposes and of the particular circumstances.
-The courts consider whether the case raises a serious justiciable issue,
--Health and safety of sex workers important
-whether the party bringing the action has a real stake or a genuine interest in its outcome and
--Part of their mission
-whether, having regard to a number of factors, the proposed suit is a reasonable and effective means to bring the case to court
--Although individual sex workers could formally bring a suit, there were a host of reasons that caused those individuals not to want to (i.e. losing their children, people knowing, etc.)
--This question is changed from “no alternative”

Judicial Discretion: This is not a rigid checklist but a set of interrelated factors to be weighed and balanced.

Underlying rules of standing= balance "between ensuring access to the courts and preserving judicial resources": Canadian Council of Churches
People who are directly affected have priority in getting judicial resources
-You don’t want people with specific fact scenarios to be prejudiced by rulings without
-Ensure that there are contending points of view
-Make sure courts stay within their bounds
-There should be a practical and effective way to challenge the legality of laws

Holding:

Standing granted.


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