Cotroni v. Quebec Police Commission and Brunet et al., 1977 CanLII 193 (SCC)

Judge:Laskin, C.J.C., Martland, Judson, Ritchie, Spence, Pigeon, Dickson, Beetz and de Grandpré, JJ.
Court:Supreme Court of Canada
Case Date:November 30, 1977
Jurisdiction:Canada (Federal)
Citations:1977 CanLII 193 (SCC);18 NR 541;38 CCC (2d) 56;[1978] 1 SCR 1048;80 DLR (3d) 490;(1977), 18 N.R. 541 (SCC)
 
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Cotroni v. Que. Police Comm. (1977), 18 N.R. 541 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

Cotroni v. Quebec Police Commission and Brunet et al.

Indexed As: Cotroni v. Quebec Police Commission and Brunet et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

Laskin, C.J.C., Martland, Judson, Ritchie, Spence, Pigeon, Dickson, Beetz and de Grandpré, JJ.

November 30, 1977.

Summary:

This case arose out of a testimony by a witness before the Quebec Police Commission. The Commission charged and convicted the accused of contempt "by reason of the evasive answers to numerous questions". The Commission imposed a sentence of imprisonment of one year.

The accused appealed to the Quebec Superior Court which dismissed the appeal.

On appeal by the accused to the Quebec Court of Appeal the appeal was dismissed and the judgment of the Quebec Superior Court was affirmed.

On appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada the appeal was allowed, the judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal was set aside and the conviction of the accused was set aside. The Supreme Court of Canada stated that the charge was defective because the Commission failed to specify the testimony complained of. The Supreme Court of Canada stated that specificity is not required where it is charged that the testimony is false in its entirety - see paragraphs 17 and 42.

Martland, Judson, Ritchie and de Grandpré, JJ., dissenting, in the Supreme Court of Canada, would have dismissed the appeal and would have affirmed the judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal. de Grandpré, J., stated that specificity was not required in this case. de Grandpré, J., stated that where the conduct in question is a general attitude exhibited throughout a witness's testimony then there is no requirement to identify specific answers that tend to demonstrate such an attitude - see paragraph 53.

Contempt - Topic 869

What constitutes contempt - Testimony of witness - Evasive answers - The accused testified before the Quebec Police Commission - The Commission found the accused guilty of contempt "by reason of his evasive answers to numerous questions" - The Commission imposed a sentence of imprisonment of one year - The Supreme Court of Canada set aside the conviction and sentence of the accused - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that the charge was defective because the Commission failed to specify the testimony complained of - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that specificity is not required where it is charged that the testimony is false in its entirety - See paragraphs 17 and 42.

Cases Noticed:

Awada (1970), 13 C.R.N.S. 127, folld. [paras. 8, 33].

Chang Hang Kiu v. Piggott, [1909] A.C. 312, refd to. [paras. 9, 34]; folld. [paras. 54, 61].

Appuhamy v. The Queen, [1963] A.C. 474, refd to. [paras. 10, 35]; folld. [paras. 54, 61].

McLeod v. St. Aubyn, [1899] A.C. 549, refd to. [paras. 11, 36].

R. v. Wolf, 2 N.R. 415; [1975] 2 S.C.R. 107, refd to. [paras. 12, 37].

United States v. Appel (1913), 211 F. 495, refd to. [paras. 13, 38]; folld. [paras. 54, 61].

Richardson v. United States (1959), 273 F. 2d 144, refd to. [paras. 13, 38].

Valenti, 6 N.Y. 2d 390, refd to. [paras. 14, 39].

Di Iorio and Fontaine v. Warden of the Jail, 8 N.R. 361, refd to. [paras. 16, 41].

Armstrong, Re, [1892] 1 B.B. 327, folld. [paras. 16, 41].

Langelier v. Giroux, 52 K.B. 113, folld. [paras. 16, 41].

Lamb v. Benoit, [1959] S.C.R. 321, folld. [paras. 16, 41].

Alliance des professeurs catholiques de Montréal v. Labour Relations Board, [1953] 2 S.C.R. 140, folld. [paras. 16, 41]; dist. [paras. 22, 47].

Toronto Newspaper Guild v. Globe Printing Company, [1953] 2 S.C.R. 18, dist. [paras. 22, 47].

Ontario Crime Commission, ex parte Feeley, Re (1962), 34 D.L.R.(2d) 451, dist. [paras. 23, 48].

Statutes Noticed:

Police Act, S.Q. 1968, c. 17, sect. 21 [para. 4].

Public Inquiry Commission Act, R.S.Q. 1964, c. 11, sect. 7, sect. 12 [para. 5].

Quebec Code of Civil Procedure, art. 51 [para. 6].

Counsel:

Robert Lahaye and Leo Dibattesta, for the appellant, Cotroni;

Olivier Prat and Jacques Richard, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard by LASKIN, C.J.C., MARTLAND, JUDSON, RITCHIE, SPENCE, PIGEON, DICKSON, BEETZ and de GRANDPRE, JJ., at Ottawa, Ontario on February 1, 1977.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered on November 30, 1977 and the following opinions were filed:

PIGEON, J. - see paragraphs 1 to 25 (English language judgment) and paragraphs 26 to 50 (French language judgment);

de GRANDPRE, J., dissenting - see paragraphs 51 to 57 (English language judgment) and paragraphs 58 to 64 (French language judgment).

LASKIN, C.J.C., SPENCE, DICKSON and BEETZ, JJ. concurred with PIGEON, J.

MARTLAND, JUDSON and RITCHIE, JJ. concurred with de GRANDPRE, JJ.

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