Auditor General of Canada v. Canada (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources) et al., (1989) 97 N.R. 241 (SCC)

JudgeDickson, C.J.C., McIntyre, Lamer, Wilson, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé and Sopinka, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateOctober 07, 1988
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1989), 97 N.R. 241 (SCC);40 Admin LR 1;[1989] 2 SCR 49;45 CCC (3d) 480;1989 CanLII 73 (SCC);61 DLR (4th) 604;97 NR 241;[1989] ACS no 80;1988 CanLII 55 (SCC);[1988] 2 SCR 171;[1989] SCJ No 80 (QL)

Auditor General of Can. v. Can. (1989), 97 N.R. 241 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

.........................

The Auditor General of Canada (appellant) v. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, The Minister of Finance, The Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and The Deputy Minister of Finance (respondents)

(No. 20304)

Indexed As: Auditor General of Canada v. Canada (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources) et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

Dickson, C.J.C., McIntyre, Lamer, Wilson, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé and Sopinka, JJ.

August 10, 1989.

Summary:

In 1981 the Government of Canada purchased Petrofina Canada Inc., using a federal Crown corporation, Petro-Canada, as the purchasing vehicle with funds provided by the Government. The Auditor General of Canada considered it part of his mandate to determine whether value for money was achieved in the transaction and sought information from Petro-Canada relating to the pre and post acquisition evaluation of the Petrofina shares. Petro-Canada, the Ministers involved and the Governor in Council (the defendants) refused to provide the Auditor General with the information requested. The Auditor General brought an action, inter alia, for a declaration that he had the right of free access to the information.

The Federal Court of Canada, Trial Division, allowed the action. The defendants appealed.

The Federal Court of Appeal, Hugessen, J., dissenting, in a decision reported 73 N.R. 241, allowed the appeal, holding that the Auditor General was not entitled to free access to the information. The Auditor General appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal. The court held that the Auditor General had no recourse to the courts because the only remedy available to him was to report to Parliament any denials of his right of free access to information (Auditor General Act, s. 7(1)(b)).

Administrative Law - Topic 3586

Judicial review - Mandamus - Bars - Existence of alternate remedy - [See Crown - Topic 625 below].

Administrative Law - Topic 4562

Judicial review - Declaratory action - Bars - Existence of alternate remedy - [See Crown - Topic 625 below].

Administrative Law - Topic 7096

Judicial review - Bars - Discretionary bars - Existence of adequate alternative remedy - [See Crown - Topic 625 below].

Administrative Law - Topic 7096

Judicial review - Bars - Discretionary bars - Existence of adequate alternative remedy - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the availability of recourse to the courts, where remedies are provided by statute - See paragraphs 41 to 58.

Crown - Topic 625

Auditor General - Auditing powers - Scope of - The Auditor General of Canada considered it part of his mandate to determine whether value for money was achieved in the purchase by the federal Government of Petrofina Canada Inc., through the Crown corporation Petro-Canada - The Auditor General sought information from Petro-Canada relating to the pre and post acquisition evaluation of the Petrofina shares - The information was refused by Petro-Canada, the Ministers involved and the Governor in Council - The Auditor General commenced court action to enforce his right of access to information (Auditor General Act, ss. 13 and 14) - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the Auditor General's remedies were limited by the Act, to the remedy of reporting the denial of his right of access to information to Cabinet (s. 7(1)(b)); he had no recourse to the courts.

Crown - Topic 627

Auditor General - Access to information - Remedies where right denied - The Auditor General Act (Can.), s. 13(1), provided that the Auditor General was entitled to free access to information relating to fulfillment of his responsibilities - Section 7(1)(b) provided that the Auditor General shall report annually to the House of Commons on whether he received all the information he required - The Supreme Court of Canada held that s. 7(1)(b) (the reporting remedy) was the only remedy available to the Auditor General for denial of his s. 13(1) rights of access to information; there was no recourse to the courts.

Cases Noticed:

Temple v. Bulmer, [1943] S.C.R. 265, consd. [paras. 45, 49, 58].

British Railways Board v. Pickin, [1974] A.C. 765 (H.L.), consd. [paras. 46, 47, 49, 50, 58].

Terrasses Zarolega Inc. v. Régie des installations olympiques, [1981] 1 S.C.R. 94; 38 N.R. 411, consd. [paras. 48, 53, 58, 59].

City of Lethbridge v. Canadian Western Natural Gas, Light, Heat and Power Co., [1923] S.C.R. 652, refd to. [para. 48].

Operation Dismantle Inc. v. Canada et al., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 441; 59 N.R. 1; 18 D.L.R.(4th) 481; 13 C.P.R. 287, refd to. [paras. 49, 51, 58, 59, 78].

Harelkin v. University of Regina, [1979] 2 S.C.R. 561; 26 N.R. 364, appld. [paras. 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58].

Attorney General of Canada v. P.P.G. Industries Canada Ltd. and Pilkington Brothers (Canada) Ltd., [1976] 2 S.C.R. 739; 7 N.R. 209, refd to. [para. 53].

British Columbia Development Corp. v. Ombudsman, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 447; 55 N.R. 298, dist. [paras. 72-77].

Statutes Noticed:

Access to Information Act, S.C. 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Schedule I [para. 21].

Appropriation Act No. 4, S.C. 1980-81-82-83, c. 51, Schedule Vote 5C [paras. 11, 12, 13, 26, 33].

Auditor General Act, S.C. 1976-77, c. 34, sect. [paras. 1, 9]; sect. 5 [paras. 9, 13, 20, 26, 27, 32, 37, 38]; sect. 6 [paras. 9, 20, 37]; sect. 7 [paras. 9, 20, 26, 27, 32]; sect. 7(1)(b) [para. 42 et seq.]; sect. 7(2)(c) [para. 26]; sect. 7(2)(d) [paras. 9, 14, 15, 17, 20, 38, 39, 43, 64]; sect. 7(2)(e) [para. 26]; sect. 8 [paras. 9, 67]; sect. 13 [paras. 9, 20, 32, 37, 38, 65]; sect. 13(1) [para. 16 et seq.]; sect. 13(2), sect. 13(3) [para. 33]; sect. 13(4) [paras. 29, 66, 68]; sect. 14 [paras. 9, 16, 18, 20, 32, 35, 37, 38, 65, 67]; sect. 14(1) [paras. 16, 67]; sect. 14(2) [paras. 17, 62, 67]; sect. 14(3) [paras. 17, 36, 62, 67, 68].

Canada Evidence Act - see Evidence Act.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, generally [para. 78]; sect. 1, sect. 33 [para. 51].

Constitution Act, 1982 [para. 50].

Evidence Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. E-10, sect. 36.3 [paras. 9, 19, 22, 28, 29, 66]; sect. 36.3(1) [para. 34].

Federal Court Act, R.S.C. 1970 (2nd Supp.), c. 10, sect. 28(6) [paras. 9, 68].

Financial Administration Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-11, sect. 134(1) [para. 16].

Legislative Assembly Act, R.S.O. 1937, c. 12, sect. 34 [para. 45].

Ombudsman Act, R.S.B.C. 1979, c. 306, generally [para. 72]; sect. 2(1) [para. 73]; sect. 11(3) [paras. 73, 74]; sect. 15 [para. 73]; sect. 15(2) [para. 76]; sect. 17, sect. 18 [paras. 73, 76]; sect. 24 [paras. 73, 74]; sect. 30 [para. 73].

Petro-Canada Act, S.C. 1974-75-76, c. 61, sect. 14 [para. 9]; sect. 17 [para. 2]; sect. 26 [paras. 9, 16].

Privacy Act, S.C. 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Schedule II [para. 21].

Rules and Procedures of the House of Commons [paras. 21, 77].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Canada (Auditor General), Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons (1982) [paras. 14, 43].

Canada (Auditor General), Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons (1983) [paras. 15, 43].

Cane, Peter, An Introduction to Administrative Law (1986), pp. 189 [para. 58]; 190 [para. 57].

de Smith, Judicial Review of Administrative Action (4th Ed. 1980), p. 513 [para. 48].

Counsel:

Gordon F. Henderson, Q.C., Emilio Binavince and Martin Mason, for the appellant;

W.I.C. Binnie, Q.C., and Graham R. Garton, Q.C., for the respondents.

Solicitors of Record:

Gowling & Henderson, Ottawa, Ontario, for the appellant;

Deputy Attorney General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, for the respondents.

This appeal was heard on October 7, 1988, before Dickson, C.J.C., McIntyre, Lamer, Wilson, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé and Sopinka, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The decision of the court was delivered in both official languages on August 10, 1989, by Dickson, C.J.C.

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