Ell et al. v. Alberta, (2003) 306 N.R. 1 (SCC)

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour, LeBel and Deschamps, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateFebruary 12, 2003
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(2003), 306 N.R. 1 (SCC);2003 SCC 35;11 CR (6th) 207;2 Admin LR (4th) 167;227 DLR (4th) 217;[2003] 10 WWR 401;[2003] 1 SCR 857;16 Alta LR (4th) 1;109 CRR (2d) 47;[2003] SCJ No 35 (QL);306 NR 1;330 AR 201

Ell v. Alta. (2003), 306 N.R. 1 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

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

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

Temp. Cite: [2003] N.R. TBEd. JN.042

Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Alberta (appellant) v. Devon Gary Ell, John Michael Maguire and Roselynne Margaret Spencer (respondents) and Attorney General of Canada, Attorney General of Ontario, Attorney General of Quebec, Attorney General of British Columbia, Attorney General for Saskatchewan and Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario (interveners)

(28261; 2003 SCC 35; 2003 CSC 35)

Indexed As: Ell et al. v. Alberta

Supreme Court of Canada

McLachlin, C.J.C., Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour, LeBel and Deschamps, JJ.

June 26, 2003.

Summary:

In 1991, the Justice of the Peace Act was amended to confer security of tenure to justices of the peace in Alberta. In 1998, s. 2.4 of the Justice Statutes Amendment Act retroactively imposed educational qualifica­tions for justices of the peace. The appli­cants, the only three full-time salaried non-sitting justices of the peace in Alberta, sought declaratory relief, asserting that s. 2.4 was invalid as it offended the constitutional principle of judicial independence.

The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, in a decision reported at 240 A.R. 146, granted the declaratory relief. The court denied solicitor and client costs and ordered that the applicants' costs be taxed on Column 5 multiplied by 1.5 of Schedule C throughout, plus reasonable disbursements. The Crown appealed. The applicants cross-appealed the costs order.

The Alberta Court of Appeal, in a decision reported at 266 A.R. 266; 228 W.A.C. 266, dismissed the appeal and cross-appeal. The Crown appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal, holding that s. 2.4(8) did not contra­vene the principle of judicial independence as it applied to the applicants.

Constitutional Law - Topic 8655

Judges (incl. justices of the peace) - Inde­pendence - The Alberta Justice of the Peace Act conferred security of tenure to justices of the peace - In 1998, the Justice Statutes Amendment Act retroactively imposed educational qualifications for justices of the peace - The applicants, the only three full-time salaried non-sitting justices of the peace, did not meet the new requirements and were removed from office (Justice Statutes Amendment Act, s. 2.4(8)) - The Supreme Court of Canada agreed that the principle of judicial inde­pendence applied to the applicants' posi­tion as a result of their authority to exer­cise judicial functions - See paragraphs 17 to 27 - However, s. 2.4(8) did not offend the principle - The court stated that "A reasonable and informed person would perceive the legislative amendments to strengthen the qualifications and indepen­dence of Alberta's justices of the peace. The reforms are the result of the Legisla­ture's considered and thorough judgment that changes to the office are necessary to serve the public good by advancing the underlying interests of judicial indepen­dence. They strengthen the ability of jus­tices of the peace to uphold the Constitu­tion and adjudicate disputes, and improve public confidence in the administration of justice. The removal of the [applicants] from their positions is not arbitrary or discretionary, and does not undermine the reasonable and informed person's percep­tion of independence." - See paragraph 52.

Constitutional Law - Topic 8656

Judges (incl. justices of the peace) - Ten­ure - [See Constitutional Law - Topic 8655 ].

Courts - Topic 1346

Justices of the peace - Independence - Security of tenure - [See Constitutional Law - Topic 8655 ].

Cases Noticed:

Reference Re Adoption Act, [1938] S.C.R. 398, refd to. [para. 4].

R. v. Bush (1888), 15 O.R. 398, refd to. [para. 4].

R. v. Valente, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 673; 64 N.R. 1; 14 O.A.C. 79, refd to. [para. 15].

Beauregard v. Canada, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 56; 70 N.R. 1; 30 D.L.R.(4th) 481; 26 C.R.R. 59, refd to. [para. 18].

Reference Re Remuneration of Judges of the Provincial Court (P.E.I.), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 3; 217 N.R. 1; 206 A.R. 1; 156 W.A.C. 1; 121 Man.R.(2d) 1; 158 W.A.C. 1; 156 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 1; 483 A.P.R. 1; 150 D.L.R.(4th) 577, refd to. [para. 18].

Rice, P.C.J. v. New Brunswick, [2002] 1 S.C.R. 405; 282 N.R. 201; 245 N.B.R.(2d) 299; 636 A.P.R. 299; 209 D.L.R.(4th) 564, refd to. [para. 23].

Baron et al. v. Minister of National Rev­enue, [1993] 1 S.C.R. 416; 146 N.R. 270; 78 C.C.C.(3d) 510; 18 C.R.(4th) 374, refd to. [para. 25].

Canadian Pacific Ltd. v. Matsqui Indian Band et al., [1995] 1 S.C.R. 3; 177 N.R. 325; 122 D.L.R.(4th) 129, refd to. [para. 30].

Québec (Ministre de la Justice) v. Ther­rien, J., [2001] 2 S.C.R. 3; 270 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 30].

R. v. Généreux, [1992] 1 S.C.R. 259; 133 N.R. 241; 70 C.C.C.(3d) 1, refd to. [para. 34].

Statutes Noticed:

Justice of the Peace Act, R.S.A. 1980, c. J-3, sect. 2.4(8) [para. 13].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Alberta, Attorney General, Report of the Justices of the Peace Committee (Klinck Report) (1986), generally [para. 5].

Alberta, Hansard, Legislative Debates (March 11, 1998), p. 811 [para. 9].

Doob, A.N., Baranek, P.M., and Addario, S.M., Understanding Justices: A Study of Canadian Justices of the Peace, Doob Report (1991), 64 [para. 48].

Freidland, Detention before Trial: A Study of Criminal Cases Tried in the Toronto Magistrates' Courts (1965), p. 172 [para. 24].

Hansard (Alta.) - see Alberta, Hansard, Legislative Debates.

Klinck Report - see Alberta, Attorney General, Report of the Justices of the Peace Committee (Klinck Report).

Manitoba, Law Reform Commission, The Independence of Justices of the Peace and Magistrates, Report No. 75 (1991), pp. 51 [para. 43]; 52 [para. 40]; 58 [para. 47]; 59 [para. 40]; 75 [para. 49]; 76 [paras. 40, 49].

McRuer, J.C., Royal Commission Inquiry Into Civil Rights (1968), Report No. 1, vol. 2, c. 38 [para. 5]; pp. 518 [para. 45]; 524 [para. 6].

Mewett Report - see Ontario (Attorney General), Report on the Office and Func­tion of Justices of the Peace in Ontario (Mewett Report).

Ontario (Attorney General), Report on the Office and Function of Justices of the Peace in Ontario (Mewett Report), p. 39 [para. 26].

Counsel:

Robert C. Maybank and Christine Enns, for the appellant;

Alan D. Hunter, Q.C., Sheilah L. Martin, Q.C., and James T. Eamon, for the re­spondents;

David Sgayias, Q.C., and Jan Brongers, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Canada;

Janet E. Minor and Sean Hanley, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Ontario;

Monique Rousseau and Julie Dassylva, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Quebec;

George H. Copley, Q.C., for the intervener, the Attorney General of Brit­ish Columbia;

Graeme G. Mitchell, Q.C., for the intervener, the Attorney General for Saskatchewan;

Paul B. Schabas and Catherine Beagan Flood, for the intervener, Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario.

Solicitors of Record:

Alberta Department of Justice, Edmonton, Alberta, for the appellant;

Code Hunter, Calgary, Alberta, for the respondents;

The Deputy Attorney General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Canada;

The Attorney General of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Ontario;

The Department of Justice, Ste-Foy, Que­bec, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Quebec;

The Ministry of the Attorney General, Victoria, British Columbia, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Brit­ish Columbia;

The Deputy Attorney General for Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatchewan, for the intervener, the Attorney General for Saskatchewan;

Blake, Cassels & Graydon, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervener, Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario.

This appeal was heard on February 12, 2003, by McLachlin, C.J.C., Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour, LeBel and Deschamps, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. Major, J., delivered the following judgment for the court in both official languages on June 26, 2003.

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    ...SCC 1, refd to. [para. 75]. Beauregard v. Canada, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 56; 70 N.R. 1, refd to. [paras. 80, 170]. Ell et al. v. Alberta, [2003] 1 S.C.R. 857; 306 N.R. 1; 330 A.R. 201; 299 W.A.C. 232; 2003 SCC 35, refd to. [paras. 80, Reference Re Remuneration of Judges of the Provincial Court (P.......
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