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Prospective interveners in Policy 713 judicial review to make arguments in court next month

A judge will hear arguments next month from organizations seeking to be interveners in a judicial review launched by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association against the New Brunswick government's changes to Policy 713. (Isabelle Arseneau/Radio-Canada - image credit)
A judge will hear arguments next month from organizations seeking to be interveners in a judicial review launched by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association against the New Brunswick government's changes to Policy 713. (Isabelle Arseneau/Radio-Canada - image credit)

A New Brunswick superior court judge will hear arguments next month from a handful of organizations seeking to present evidence in a judicial review of the provincial government's decision to make controversial changes to a school gender-identity policy.

About a dozen lawyers and other representatives from nine organizations filled a courtroom at the Fredericton courthouse on Queen Street on Tuesday to discuss the intervener status they want to hold in the judicial review launched by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

One of those organizations is Egale Canada, which is seeking intervener status as recent changes to Policy 713 affect many of the youth that it works with, said Ljiljana Stanic, a lawyer for the organization, speaking after Tuesday's hearing.

"We would bring a lot of value. We'd bring important information about how the policy affects these youth here and as well, we'll be bringing in expert evidence on that as well," said Stanic.

Ljiljana Stanic, lawyer representing Egale Canada, said her national organization should be granted intervenor status as it works with LGBT youth in New Brunswick and would be able to present evidence about how recent changes to Policy 713 affects them.
Ljiljana Stanic, lawyer representing Egale Canada, said her national organization should be granted intervenor status as it works with LGBT youth in New Brunswick and would be able to present evidence about how recent changes to Policy 713 affects them.

Ljiljana Stanic, the lawyer representing Egale Canada, says her national organization should be granted intervener status as it works with 2SLGBT+ youth in New Brunswick and would be able to present evidence about how recent changes to Policy 713 affects them. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Presiding over Tuesday's hearing, Justice Richard Petrie asked CCLA lawyer Sheree Conlon and government lawyer Stephen Hutchison if either party had any issues with the list of organizations seeking intervener status.

In addition to Egale Canada, the prospective interveners include the New Brunswick Teachers' Federation, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees, the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance, the Gender Dysphoria Alliance, the Madhu Verma Migrant Justice Centre, the Women's Legal and Education Action Fund and the Association for Reformed Political Action.

Conlon said she didn't oppose the parties' motions to be granted intervener status, but noted the CCLA couldn't yet take a formal position given it's not yet clear what each intervener is seeking.

Hutchison, meanwhile, took issue with a handful of the motions for intervener status, particularly taking aim at the unions over concern that their arguments go "beyond the scope" of what the CCLA's judicial review application seeks to address.

Stephen Hutchison told court Tuesday that he had concerns that some of the prospective intervenors intended to broaden the scope of the proceedings beyond the original scope of the judicial review application.
Stephen Hutchison told court Tuesday that he had concerns that some of the prospective intervenors intended to broaden the scope of the proceedings beyond the original scope of the judicial review application.

Stephen Hutchison told the court Tuesday that he had concerns that some of the prospective interveners intended to broaden the scope of the proceedings beyond the original scope of the judicial review application. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Hutchison said the unions reference in their motion the issue of disciplinary measures for teachers who don't follow the policy, and argued that the issue falls outside of the judicial review's scope.

He also took issue with motions by Egale Canada and the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance, over similar concerns about them broadening the scope of the original application.

Last June Education Minister Bill Hogan announced he was changing his department's Policy 713, to now make it mandatory for staff to get parental consent before using the chosen names and pronouns of children under 16.

In September, the CCLA filed its judicial review, asking that a judge review and quash these specific changes and declare they violate 2SLGBTQ+ children's Charter and human rights.

The association also asks that a judge order the province to rewrite the policy and declare that it can't forbid the use of a child's chosen name or pronoun without parental consent.

Dates set for April 18, April 22

Representatives for three of the intended interveners told Petrie on Tuesday that they intend to intervene under the status of amicus curiae, or friend of the court.

Those organizations included the Madhu Verma Migrant Justice Centre, the Women's Legal and Education Action Fund and the Association for Reformed Political Action.

Such status would grant them lesser roles in the proceedings, with limits on presenting evidence and examining witnesses.

Both Hutchison and Conlon agreed to grant them amicus curiae intervener status, and Petrie said he'd set out the terms for such during in-chamber sessions.

The other six prospective interveners, meanwhile, will be returning to court on April 18 and April 22 to argue why they should be granted status.

Petrie scheduled the proceedings to begin at 9:30 a.m., with the unions to present on April 22, and the other three to present on April 18.