Article by Ben Leeson, Sudbury Star
A federal judge has granted a Greater Sudbury man’s application for judicial review of a Canadian Human Rights Commission decision last year to dismiss his 2010 complaint, which alleged the Bank of Nova Scotia discriminated against his family by demanding repayment of a mortgage because his son and daughter-in-law were growing medicinal marijuana.
Robert McIlvenna filed the complaint on Aug. 23, 2010, but the commission dismissed it in a letter in March 2012, deciding that the facts as alleged did not constitute a discriminatory practice. That decision was quashed through the Federal Court of Appeal, which sent it back to the commission for further investigation, but the commission dismissed it again, after further investigation, on June 16, 2016.
McIlvenna then applied for judicial review of the commission’s most recent decision.
In a judgement dated July 19, Justice Keith Boswell decided to allow the review, ruling the commission’s decision to dismiss the complaint was “procedurally unfair and unreasonable,” because the investigator’s report did not sufficiently address or consider certain evidence, including the bank’s policy on grow ops.
Boswell set aside the commission’s 2016 decision and returned the matter to the commission yet again for redetermination and, if necessary, further investigation.
Trouble between McIlvenna and the bank began after he and his wife met with a personal banking officer to discuss an increase to their line of credit to complete renovations to their house in Val Therese, which was then occupied by their son, Ryan, daughter-in-law, and their three children.
After some of the renovations had been completed, McIlvenna and his wife returned to the bank to discuss their line of credit. The bank arranged for an appraiser to inspect the property on June 24, 2010, and in a letter dated July 16, 2010, the appraiser noted that Ryan McIlvenna had informed him that he and his wife were permitted by Health Canada to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes and the second story addition to the house would be to accommodate the marijuana plants they required for medical purposes.
The appraiser reported that the house was stripped to its studs, the exterior facade was removed and the house was at a point that would be considered a shell only.
A few weeks later, McIlvenna and his son met with Estelle Joliat, a community manager at the bank’s branch in Sudbury. The bank denied an increase to the line of credit and informed them it would to demand repayment of the entire mortgage.