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CIVIL PROCEDURE - Intervenors - Attorney General - Requirement of interest

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 @ 7:56 AM  


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Applications by seven organizations, the BC Attorney General and one individual, L, for leave to intervene in an appeal from orders made in a family law dispute between a 14-year-old transgender youth, AB, and his father regarding the administration to AB of hormone treatment that was recommended by his physicians for gender dysphoria. The judge authorized the treatment and dismissed the father’s application for an injunction. A subsequent protection order restrained the father from publishing, speaking or giving interviews about the case or about AB’s personal and medical information. The father now appealed both orders. The grounds of appeal raised issues regarding the best interests of AB, informed consent of a minor, Charter breaches, and the open court principle.

HELD: Applications by QMUNITY’s BC’s Queer Resources Centre Society and L were dismissed. QMUNITY’s proposed submissions would be adequately canvassed by the parties. The other applicants were granted leave to intervene. Each proposed intervenor, other than L, had a broad representative base and the issues in this case legitimately engaged their interest in the public law issues on appeal. L appeared as an individual, representing only herself. She had no direct interest in the outcome of the appeal. While she felt strongly concerning the issues raised on the appeal, she did not offer a unique and helpful perspective and her submissions would likely expand the scope of the appeal. This was a private family law case involving the application of established principles concerning the best interests of the child and family violence to a particular factual matrix. Intervention on the issues concerning the best interests of the child and family violence would not be of assistance to the court. A live issue in this litigation concerned AB’s consent for treatment under the Infants Act. The court would benefit from the views of the health care providers in considering that matter. The Protection Order raised issues concerning freedom of expression and the competing s. 7 rights of AB and his father. Those issues raised questions of general import that had not been previously litigated in this Court. The court might benefit from submissions on those issues. The Provincial Health Services Authority offered a unique and useful perspective on the capacity of minors to consent to treatment and with respect to treatment assessments under the Infants Act. The Health Authority was granted leave to make submissions on those issues. West Coast LEAF was granted leave to intervene on the question of freedom of expression and the relationship between the respective Charter rights of the father and AB. The Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health was granted leave to intervene on questions regarding informed consent under the Infants Act and how that might be assessed in the context of trans youth. It could also make submissions regarding the protection order and the appropriateness of restrictions on the father’s rights of freedom of expression. Egale Canada Human Rights Trust was granted leave to intervene on the question of limits on the father’s freedom of expression. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms and the Association for Reformed Political Action was also granted leave to intervene on the Charter issues raised. Section 204 of the Family Law Act gave the Attorney General the right to intervene in a proceeding under the Family Law Act. The Attorney General had the right under s. 204(1) of the Act to intervene in the Supreme Court and make submissions respecting any matter arising in that proceeding that affected the public interest.

A.B. v. C.D., [2019] B.C.J. No. 1495, British Columbia Court of Appeal, R. Goepel J.A., August 9, 2019. Digest No. TLD-September232019007