Handling Provincial Offence Cases in Ontario provides systematic guidance for defending and prosecuting provincial offence cases in Ontario, ranging from driving offences to complex occupational health and safety violations and environmental protection infractions. Separate chapters cover mens rea offences, strict liability offenses, and absolute liability offenses including the scope of liability and corporate responsibility.
What's new in this edition
Allen and Libman, Handling Provincial Offence Cases, 2021 (3674 spaces used – the limit is 3900)
- Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33 updated to 2020, c. 36 ss. 1, 2 [Not in Force at publication]
- Electronic Documents and Remote Meetings, Reg. 67/12 updated to O. Reg. 673/20
- Certified Evidence Reg. 132/14 updated to O. Reg. 710/20
- Forms, O. Reg. 108/11 updated to O. Reg. 19/20
Case Law Update:
- In Ontario (Attorney General) v. G., 2020 SCC 38, a provision in the provincial sex offender registry was found to violate s.15 of the Charter of Rights on the basis that individuals either convicted or found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder of sexual offences were to have their personal information added to the registry and report to the police at least once a year to keep the information up to date. However, there were opportunities for exemption from such requirements for individuals found guilty of sexual offences but not to those found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder who were granted an absolute discharge. This difference constituted a violation of s.15 of the Charter and could not be saved by s.1.
- In Quebec (A.G.) v. 9147-0732 Quebec Inc., 2020 SCC 32, it was held that it was not open to a corporation to challenge the constitutionality of a minimum fine on the basis that it offended its right to be protected against cruel and unusual treatment or punishment under s.12 of the Charter of Rights. The words “cruel and unusual treatment or punishment” refer to human pain and suffering. The protection against cruel and unusual punishment under s.12 therefore exists as a standalone guarantee. This is highly significant: excessive fines (which a corporation can sustain), without more, are not unconstitutional. For a fine to be unconstitutional, it must be so excessive as to outrage standards of decency and abhorrent or intolerable to society. This threshold is anchored in human dignity and cannot apply to treatments or punishments imposed on corporations.
- In R v. Prediger, 2021 BCPC 11, the testifying officer asked the permission for the Court to use a “Traffic Court Assistance Sheet”, to which the defendant objected. Such a document is more than a check list and amounts to a script or narrative for the witness. Oral evidence should be given by the witness testifying directly, not by simply reading in a prepared statement, or summary. Permission to use the “Traffic Court Assistance Sheet” was refused.
- In R v. Bdeir, 2021 ONCJ 54,the accused brought a motion seeking to have the witness testify without a face mask or face covering on the basis that the central issue in the case was credibility and that full answer and defence required being able to see the complainant’s facial expressions while unmasked. The Court held that in the midst of a global pandemic everyone in the courtroom should be masked at all times. The right to full answer and defence must be balanced against competing public health interests. Appellate courts have cautioned overreliance on demeanour when assessing credibility. A trial with witnesses testifying with noses and mouths covered could not be viewed as unfair while in the midst of a pandemic. Mandatory mask wearing by witnesses is the only viable solution to the in-person trial
- In Ste-Marie v. R., 2020 QCCA 1118, it was held that a stay of proceedings remains the only available remedy for a s.11(b) breach. Despite commentary questioning whether other remedies may be appropriate, the law has remained consistent and unbroken since R v Rahey,  1 S.C.R. 588 in holding that a stay is the only available remedy. Prejudice to the accused has no bearing on the available remedy once a breach has been established.
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