EGALE Canada Inc. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al., (2003) 182 B.C.A.C. 35 (CA)

JudgeProwse, Mackenzie and Low, JJ.A.
CourtCourt of Appeal (British Columbia)
Case DateMay 01, 2003
JurisdictionBritish Columbia
Citations(2003), 182 B.C.A.C. 35 (CA);2003 BCCA 251

EGALE Can. Inc. v. Can. (A.G.) (2003), 182 B.C.A.C. 35 (CA);

    300 W.A.C. 35

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2003] B.C.A.C. TBEd. MY.017

Dawn Barbeau and Elizabeth Barbeau, Peter Cook and Murray Warren, Jane Hamilton and Joy Masuhara (appellants/petitioners) v. The Attorney General of British Columbia and the Attorney General of Canada (respondents/defendants)

(CA029017)

EGALE Canada Inc., David Shortt and Shane McCloskey, Melinda Roy and Tanya Chambers, Lloyd Thornhill and Robert Peacock, Robin Roberts and Diana Denny, Wendy Young and Mary Theresa Healy (appellants/petitioners) v. The Attorney General of Canada, The Attorney General of British Columbia, and The Director of Vital Statistics for British Columbia (respondents/respondents)

(CA029048)

(2003 BCCA 251)

Indexed As: EGALE Canada Inc. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al.

British Columbia Court of Appeal

Prowse, Mackenzie and Low, JJ.A.

May 1, 2003.

Summary:

The petitioners, in separate actions, chal­lenged decisions of the Director of Vital Statistics refusing to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples, and seeking related relief.

The British Columbia Supreme Court, in a decision reported at [2001] B.C.T.C. 1365, dismissed the petitions. The petitioners appealed.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and granted a declaration pursuant to s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, that the common law bar against same-sex marriage was of no force and effect because it violated the rights and freedoms guaranteed by s. 15 of the Charter and did not constitute a reasonable and demonstrably justified limit on those rights and freedoms within the meaning of s. 1 of the Charter. The court reformulated the common law definition of marriage to mean "the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others". The court suspended the operation of the relief until July 12, 2004, to give the federal and provincial governments time to review and revise legislation to bring it into accord with this decision.

Editor's note: see related cases at [2001] B.C.T.C. 53; [2002] B.C.T.C. 1403; [2002] B.C.A.C. Uned. 124; 170 B.C.A.C. 204; 279 W.A.C. 204, and 178 B.C.A.C. 309; 293 W.A.C. 309.

Civil Rights - Topic 922

Discrimination - Martial status - Homo­sexuals - The British Columbia Court of Appeal affirmed that the common law defini­tion of marriage (which operated as a common law bar to same-sex marriage), contravened the equality rights of same-sex couples under s. 15 of the Charter - See para­graphs 73 to 95 and 180 - The court held that the definition could not be jus­tified under s. 1 - See paragraphs 101 to 135 and 180 - The court granted a decla­ration that the com­mon law bar was of no force and effect - The court reformulated the common law defini­tion of marriage to mean "the lawful union of two persons to the exclu­sion of all others" - The court suspended the relief until July 12, 2004, to give the federal and provincial govern­ments time to review and revise legislation to bring it into accord with the decision - See para­graphs 136 to 161 and 164.

Civil Rights - Topic 953

Discrimination - Sexual orientation - Homosexuals (incl. same-sex couples) - [See Civil Rights - Topic 922 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 5659.1

Equality and protection of the law - Par­ticular cases - Marriage - [See Civil Rights - Topic 922 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limits prescribed by law (Charter, s. 1) - [See Civil Rights - Topic 922 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8380.25

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Remedies - Declar­ation of rights - [See Civil Rights - Topic 922 ].

Constitutional Law - Topic 6411

Federal jurisdiction (s. 91) - Marriage and divorce - General - Same-sex couples challenged the refusal of the Director of Vital Statistics to grant them marriage licences - It was common ground between the parties that the federal government had jurisdiction over marriage, including the capacity to marry, pursuant to s. 91(26) of the Constitution Act, 1867 - The British Columbia Court of Appeal held that the common law definition of marriage vio­lated the equality rights of same-sex couples, and could not be justified under s. 1 - The court further held that extending the capacity to marry to same-sex couples was not so fundamental a change as to exceed Parliament's jurisdiction over mar­riage under s. 91(26) - See paragraphs 59 to 72, 165 to 178.

Family Law - Topic 167

Marriage - Prohibited marriages - Same-sex couples - The British Columbia Court of Appeal affirmed that there was a com­mon law bar to same-sex marriage, name­ly the common law definition of marriage - See paragraphs 40 to 56, 166.

Cases Noticed:

Halpern et al. v. Canada (Attorney Gen­eral) et al. (2002), 163 O.A.C. 276; 215 D.L.R.(4th) 223 (Div. Ct.), consd. [para. 2].

Hendricks v. Québec (Attorney General), [2002] J.Q. No. 3816 (Sup. Ct.), consd. [para 2].

M. v. H., [1999] 2 S.C.R. 3; 238 N.R. 179; 121 O.A.C. 1, consd. [para. 43].

Hyde v. Hyde and Woodmansee (1866), L.R. 1 P. & D. 130 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 50].

Corbett v. Corbett, [1970] 2 All E.R. 33 (Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Div.), refd to. [para. 51].

Keddie v. Currie (1991), 3 B.C.A.C. 291; 7 W.A.C. 291; 60 B.C.L.R.(2d) 1 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 51].

Layland v. Ontario (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations) (1993), 14 O.R.(3d) 658 (Div. Ct.), refd to. [para. 53].

North v. Matheson (1974), 52 D.L.R.(3d) 280 (Man. Co. Ct.), refd to. [para. 53].

Reference Re Roman Catholic Separate High Schools Funding, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 1149; 77 N.R. 241; 22 O.A.C. 321, consd. [para. 65].

Adler et al. v. Ontario et al., [1996] 3 S.C.R. 609; 204 N.R. 81; 95 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 65].

R. v. Swain, [1991] 1 S.C.R. 933; 125 N.R. 1; 47 O.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 73].

R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103; 65 N.R. 87; 14 O.A.C. 335, refd to. [para. 74].

R. v. Robinson (D.), [1996] 1 S.C.R. 683; 194 N.R. 1; 72 B.C.A.C. 161; 119 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 74].

Law v. Minister of Employment and Im­migration, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497; 236 N.R. 1; 170 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. 82].

Egan and Nesbit v. Canada, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 513; 182 N.R. 161; 12 R.F.L.(4th) 201; 124 D.L.R.(4th) 609, refd to. [para. 93].

RJR-MacDonald Inc. et Imperial Tobacco Ltd. v. Canada (Procureur général), [1995] 3 S.C.R. 199; 187 N.R. 1; 127 D.L.R.(4th) 1; 100 C.C.C.(3d) 449, refd to. [para. 115].

Thomson Newspapers Co. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 877; 226 N.R. 1; 109 O.A.C. 201; 159 D.L.R.(4th) 385, refd to. [para. 116].

Watkins v. Olafson et al., [1989] 2 S.C.R. 750; 100 N.R. 161; 61 Man.R.(2d) 81; 61 D.L.R.(4th) 577; [1989] 6 W.W.R. 481; 39 B.C.L.R.(2d) 294; 50 C.C.L.T. 101, refd to. [para. 146].

Vriend et al. v. Alberta, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 493; 224 N.R. 1; 212 A.R. 237; 168 W.A.C. 237, refd to. [para. 151].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1 [para. 101]; sect. 15 [para. 81].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Canada, Discussion Paper on Marriage and Legal Recognition of Same-sex Unions (November 2002), p. 24 [para. 139].

Canada, Law Commission Report, Beyond Conjugality, Recognizing and supporting close personal adult relationships (2001), generally [para. 152]; pp. 129 to 130 [para. 153].

Hogg, Peter W., Constitutional Law of Canada (1992 Looseleaf Ed.) (1997 Update, Release 2), pp. 15-42 to 15-43 [para. 177].

Counsel:

K.A. Lahey, for the appellants in CA029017, Barbeau et al.;

J.J. Arvay, Q.C., and C. Petersen, for the appellants in CA029048, EGALE Canada Inc. et al.;

L. Greathead, for the respondents, Attor­ney General of British Columbia and Director of Vital Statistics;

J.A.M. Bowers, Q.C., S.C. Postman and W.J.M. Divoky, for the respondent, Attorney General of Canada;

K.W. Smith and R.J. Hughes, for the intervenors, Coalition of Canadian Lib­eral Rabbis for Same-Sex Marriage;

D.G. Cowper, Q.C., and C. Silver, for the intervenor, B.C. Coalition for Marriage and Family;

I.T. Benson, for the intervenor, Interfaith Coalition for Marriage.

This appeal was heard in Vancouver, British Columbia, on February 10 to 12, 2003, before Prowse, Mackenzie and Low, JJ.A., of the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The decision of the court was delivered on May 1, 2003, and the following opinions were filed:

Prowse, J.A. - see paragraphs 1 to 163;

Mackenzie, J.A. (Low, J.A., concurring) - see paragraphs 164 to 182.

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24 practice notes
  • Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, 2004 SCC 79
    • Canada
    • Supreme Court (Canada)
    • December 9, 2004
    ...A.C. 326; R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; EGALE Canada Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) (2003), 225 D.L.R. (4th) 472, 2003 BCCA 251; Halpern v. Canada (Attorney General) (2003), 65 O.R. (3d) 161; Hendricks v. Québec (Procureur général), [2002] R.J.Q. 2506; Law v. Canada (M......
  • Judicially Licensed Unconstitutionality.
    • Canada
    • University of British Columbia Law Review Vol. 55 No. 2, November 2022
    • November 1, 2022
    ...19020 (QC CA) [Pomerleau]; Hitzig v Canada, [2003] OJ No 3873, 231 DLR (4th) 104 (ON CA); Barbeau v British Columbia (Attorney General), 2003 BCCA 251 [Barbeau]; Halpern v Canada (Attorney general), [2003] 225 DLR (4th) 529, 65 OR (3d) 161 (ON CA); R v Bernard, 2003 NBCA 55 (89) See Walsh, ......
  • Reference Re Same-Sex Marriage, (2004) 328 N.R. 1 (SCC)
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court (Canada)
    • December 9, 2004
    ...[1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; 58 N.R. 81; 60 A.R. 161, refd to. [para. 40]. EGALE Canada Inc. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (2003), 182 B.C.A.C. 35; 300 W.A.C. 35; 225 D.L.R.(4th) 472; 2003 BCCA 251, refd to. [para. Halpern et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (2003), 172 O.A.C. 2......
  • Lee v. Dawson et al., (2006) 224 B.C.A.C. 199 (CA)
    • Canada
    • British Columbia Court of Appeal (British Columbia)
    • March 31, 2006
    ...and Immigration, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497; 236 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 48]. EGALE Canada Inc. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (2003), 182 B.C.A.C. 35; 300 W.A.C. 35; 225 D.L.R.(4th) 472; 2003 BCCA 251, refd to. [para. Halpern et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (2002), 163 O.A.......
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16 cases
  • Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, 2004 SCC 79
    • Canada
    • Supreme Court (Canada)
    • December 9, 2004
    ...A.C. 326; R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; EGALE Canada Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) (2003), 225 D.L.R. (4th) 472, 2003 BCCA 251; Halpern v. Canada (Attorney General) (2003), 65 O.R. (3d) 161; Hendricks v. Québec (Procureur général), [2002] R.J.Q. 2506; Law v. Canada (M......
  • Reference Re Same-Sex Marriage, (2004) 328 N.R. 1 (SCC)
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court (Canada)
    • December 9, 2004
    ...[1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; 58 N.R. 81; 60 A.R. 161, refd to. [para. 40]. EGALE Canada Inc. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (2003), 182 B.C.A.C. 35; 300 W.A.C. 35; 225 D.L.R.(4th) 472; 2003 BCCA 251, refd to. [para. Halpern et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (2003), 172 O.A.C. 2......
  • Lee v. Dawson et al., (2006) 224 B.C.A.C. 199 (CA)
    • Canada
    • British Columbia Court of Appeal (British Columbia)
    • March 31, 2006
    ...and Immigration, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497; 236 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 48]. EGALE Canada Inc. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (2003), 182 B.C.A.C. 35; 300 W.A.C. 35; 225 D.L.R.(4th) 472; 2003 BCCA 251, refd to. [para. Halpern et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (2002), 163 O.A.......
  • Halpern v. Can. (A.G.), (2003) 172 O.A.C. 276 (CA)
    • Canada
    • Ontario Court of Appeal (Ontario)
    • June 10, 2003
    ...(Attorney General), [2002] J.Q. No. 3816 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 32]. EGALE Canada Inc. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (2003), 182 B.C.A.C. 35; 300 W.A.C. 35 (C.A.), refd to. [para. Corbett v. Corbett, [1970] 2 All E.R. 33 (P.D.A.), refd to. [para. 36]. Iantsis v. Papatheodorou,......
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7 books & journal articles
  • Judicially Licensed Unconstitutionality.
    • Canada
    • University of British Columbia Law Review Vol. 55 No. 2, November 2022
    • November 1, 2022
    ...19020 (QC CA) [Pomerleau]; Hitzig v Canada, [2003] OJ No 3873, 231 DLR (4th) 104 (ON CA); Barbeau v British Columbia (Attorney General), 2003 BCCA 251 [Barbeau]; Halpern v Canada (Attorney general), [2003] 225 DLR (4th) 529, 65 OR (3d) 161 (ON CA); R v Bernard, 2003 NBCA 55 (89) See Walsh, ......
  • Choices and controversy: judicial appointments in Canada.
    • Canada
    • University of New Brunswick Law Journal No. 58, January 2008
    • January 1, 2008
    ...(held the definition to be invalid and ruled that same-sex marriage licenses immediately be granted); EGALE Canada v. Canada (A.G.), 2003 BCCA 251, 13 B.C.L.R. (4th) I (C.A.) (found the common law definition unconstitutional and issued a two-year delay before effect); Hendricks c. Quebec (P......
  • Canadian same-sex marriage litigation: individual rights, community strategy.
    • Canada
    • University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review Vol. 66 No. 2, March 2008
    • March 22, 2008
    ...Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (U.K.), 1982, c. 11 [Charter]. (3) EGALE Canada Inc. v Canada (Attorney General), 2003 BCCA 251, 225 D.L.R. (4th) 472 , [2003] 7 W.W.R. 22 [EGALE], rev'g 2001 BCSC 1365 , [2001] 11 W.W.R. 685 , 95 B.C.L.R. (3d) 122 , [EGALE (4) Halper......
  • Balancing Conflicting Rights: Towards an Analytical Framework
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    • Irwin Books Balancing Competing Human Rights Claims in a Diverse Society. Institutions, Policy, Principles Part 2
    • June 19, 2012
    ...of marriage, while also recognizing that the conventional deinition of marriage inher-77 EGALE Canada Inc v Canada (Attorney General) , 2003 BCCA 251. 78 Halpern et al v Canada (Attorney General) et al (2003), 65 OR (3d) 161 (Ont CA). 79 Catholic Civil Rights League v Hendricks (2004) 238 D......
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