Miron and Valliere v. Trudel et al., (1995) 181 N.R. 253 (SCC)

JudgeLamer, C.J.C., La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateMay 25, 1995
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1995), 181 N.R. 253 (SCC);[1995] 2 SCR 418;29 CRR (2d) 189;[1995] SCJ No 44 (QL);81 OAC 253;23 OR (3d) 160;181 NR 253;10 MVR (3d) 151;1995 CanLII 97 (SCC);124 DLR (4th) 693;13 RFL (4th) 1

Miron v. Trudel (1995), 181 N.R. 253 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

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

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

John O. Miron and Jocelyne Valliere (appellants) v. Richard Trudel, William James McIsaac and The Economical Mutual Insurance Company (respondents) and The Attorney General of Canada, The Attorney General for Ontario, The Attorney General of Quebec and The Attorney General of Manitoba (intervenors)

(22744)

Indexed As: Miron and Valliere v. Trudel et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ.

May 25, 1995.

Summary:

A standard automobile insurance policy extended accident and loss of income bene­fits to the "spouse" of the insured, as man­dated by legislation. The insurer denied benefits to an insured's com­mon law spouse. The insured and common law spouse (plain­tiffs) sued the insurer. The trial court, on a preliminary motion, held that "spouse" under the policy was limited to a legally married person. The plaintiffs appealed, claiming that "spouse" included common law spouses or, alterna­tively, that the excluded common law spouse was dis­criminated against contrary to s. 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The definition of "spouse" in the insurance policy did not include common law spouses and there was no violation of s. 15 as marital status was not a ground of discrimination analogous to those specifi­cally enumerated in s. 15. The plaintiffs appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada, Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest, Gonthier and Major, JJ., dissenting, allowed the appeal. The policy provision discriminated against common law spouses contrary to s. 15 of the Charter and was not a reasonable limit prescribed by law under s. 1. The appropriate remedy was to "read in" to the policy the post-1990 amended defini­tion of "spouse", which included common law spouses.

Civil Rights - Topic 925

Discrimination - Marital status - Common law relationships - A standard automobile insurance policy denied common law spouses benefits available to married spouses - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the distinction violated s. 15 of the Charter, was not saved by s. 1 and the appropriate remedy was to "read in" the post-1990 amended defini­tion of "spouse" that included common law spouses - McLachlin, J. (Sopinka, Cory and Iaco­bucci, JJ., concurring), held that marital status was an analogous ground of dis­crimination and that denying benefits solely on the basis of marital status was discriminatory and not saved by s. 1, because it failed the rational connection and minimal impairment tests - L'Heur­eux-Dubé, J., concurring in the result but for different reasons, stated that the dis­tinction discriminated because it was rea­sonably capable of promoting or perpetu­ating a view amongst common law spouses that they were less worthy of recognition or value as human beings equally deserv­ing of concern, respect and consideration - L'Heureux-Dubé, J., agreed with McLach­lin, J., respecting s. 1 and "reading in" - Gonthier, J. (Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest and Major, JJ., concurring), dissenting, stated that the benefits claimed related to support obligations between married spouses, accordingly, marital status could not be a ground of discrimination since the distinc­tion pertained to an inherent aspect of marriage (support) and the function of the legislated benefits was relevant to that status.

Civil Rights - Topic 5516

Equality and protection of the law - Tests for inequality - The Supreme Court of Canada, per McLachlin, J. (Sopinka, Cory and Iacobucci, JJ., concurring), stated that "the analysis under s. 15(1) involves two steps: examination of whether there has been a denial of 'equal protection or equal benefit of the law', and a finding that the denial constitutes discrimination. To estab­lish discrimination, the claimant must bring the distinction within an enumerated or analogous ground. In most cases, this suffices to establish discrimination. How­ever, exceptionally it may be con­cluded that the denial of equality on the enumer­ated or analogous ground does not violate the purpose of s. 15(1) -- to pre­vent the violation of human dignity and freedom through the imposition of limita­tions, disadvantages or burdens through the stereotypical application of presumed group characteristics, rather than on the basis of merit, capacity or circumstance. While irrelevance of the ground of distinc­tion may indicate discrimination, the con­verse is not true. Proof of relevance does not negate the possibility of discrimination. We must look beyond relevance to ascer­tain whether the impact of the impugned legislation is to disadvantage the group or individual in a manner which perpetuates the injustice which s. 15(1) is aimed at preventing." - See paragraph 22.

Civil Rights - Topic 5516

Equality and protection of the law - Tests for inequality - The Supreme Court of Canada, per L'Heureux-Dubé, J., stated that for a rights claimant to establish that an impugned distinction was discrimina­tory under s. 15 of the Charter "(1) there must be a legis­lative dis­tinction; (2) this distinction must result in a denial of one of the four equal­ity rights on the basis of the rights claim­ant's mem­bership in an identi­fiable group; and (3) this distinction must be 'discrimin­atory' within the mean­ing of s. 15." - L'Heureux-Dubé, J., stated that "the sec­ond question requires inquiry into whether the distinction has the effect of imposing a burden, obligation or disad­vantage not imposed on others, or of with­holding or limiting access to opportunities, benefits and advantages available to others." and that "I prefer to focus on the group ad­versely affected by the distinction as well as on the nature of the interest affected, rather than on the grounds of the impugned distinction." - See paragraphs 65, 67 to 69.

Civil Rights - Topic 5516

Equality and protection of the law - Tests for inequality - The Supreme Court of Canada, per Gonthier, J. (Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest and Major, JJ., concurring), stated that a s. 15(1) Charter analysis involved three steps - "The first step looks to whether the law has drawn a distinction between the claimant and others. The second step then questions whether the distinction results in disadvantage, and examines whether the impugned law imposes a burden, obligation or disadvan­tage on a group of persons to which the claimant belongs which is not imposed on others, or does not provide them with a benefit which it grants others. ... The third step assesses whether the distinction is based on an irrelevant personal character­istic which is either enumerated in s. 15(1) or one analogous thereto. ... This third step thus comprises two aspects: determining the personal characteristic shared by a group and then assessing its relevancy having regard to the functional values underlying the legislation. ... An otherwise prejudicial distinction drawn on a relevant basis is not discriminatory." - See para­graphs 115 to 117, 125.

Civil Rights - Topic 5656.2

Equality and protection of the law - In­surance legislation - [See Civil Rights - Topic 925 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limits prescribed by law - [See Civil Rights - Topic 925 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8380.1

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Remedies - Reading in - [See Civil Rights - Topic 925 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8672

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Equality rights - Analogous categories - [See Civil Rights - Topic 925 ].

Cases Noticed:

Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia (1986), 27 D.L.R.(4th) 600 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [para. 9].

Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 143; 91 N.R. 255; [1989] 2 W.W.R. 289; 56 D.L.R.(4th) 1; 34 B.C.L.R.(2d) 273; 36 C.R.R. 193; 25 C.C.E.L. 255, refd to. [para. 9].

Southam Inc. v. Hunter, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 145; 55 N.R. 241; 55 A.R. 291; 9 C.R.R. 355; 14 C.C.C.(3d) 97; 41 C.R.(3d) 97; [1984] 6 W.W.R. 577; 33 Alta. L.R.(2d) 193; 27 B.L.R. 297; 84 D.T.C. 6467; 2 C.P.R.(3d) 1; 11 D.L.R.(4th) 641, refd to. [para. 12].

R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; 58 N.R. 81; 60 A.R. 161; [1985] 3 W.W.R. 481; 18 C.C.C.(3d) 385; 18 D.L.R.(4th) 321; 37 Alta. L.R.(2d) 97; 85 C.L.L.C. 14,203; 13 C.R.R. 64, refd to. [para. 12].

Reference Re Section 94(2) of the Motor Vehicle Act (B.C.), [1985] 2 S.C.R. 486; 63 N.R. 266; 48 C.R.(3d) 289; 23 C.C.C.(3d) 289; [1986] 1 W.W.R. 481, refd to. [para. 12].

United States of America v. Cotroni; United States of America v. El Zein, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1469; 96 N.R. 321; 23 Q.A.C. 182, refd to. [para. 12].

R. v. Turpin, Siddiqui and Clauzel, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1296; 96 N.R. 115; 34 O.A.C. 115; 48 C.C.C.(3d) 8; 69 C.R.(3d) 97; 39 C.R.R. 193, refd to. [para. 14].

McKinney v. University of Guelph et al., [1990] 3 S.C.R. 229; 118 N.R. 1; 45 O.A.C. 1; 76 D.L.R.(4th) 545; 2 C.R.R.(2d) 1, refd to. [para. 14].

R. v. Swain, [1991] 1 S.C.R. 933; 125 N.R. 1; 47 O.A.C. 81; 63 C.C.C.(3d) 481, refd to. [para. 14].

Symes v. Minister of National Revenue, [1993] 4 S.C.R. 695; 161 N.R. 243, refd to. [para. 14].

Conway v. Canada (Attorney General), [1993] 2 S.C.R. 872; 154 N.R. 392, refd to. [para. 14].

Egan and Nesbitt v. Canada (1995), 182 N.R. 161 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 17].

Bliss v. Canada (Attorney General), [1979] 1 S.C.R. 183; 23 N.R. 527, refd to. [para. 18].

Brooks, Allen and Dixon et al. v. Canada Safeway Ltd., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1219; 94 N.R. 373; 58 Man.R.(2d) 161; 59 D.L.R.(4th) 321, refd to. [para. 18].

Boronovsky v. Chief Rabbis of Israel, P.D. Ch [25] (1), 7, 35, refd to. [para. 28].

Becker v. Pettkus, [1980] 2 S.C.R. 834; 34 N.R. 384; 117 D.L.R.(3d) 257; 19 R.F.L.(2d) 165; 8 E.T.R. 143, refd to. [para. 37].

Peter v. Beblow, [1993] 1 S.C.R. 980; 150 N.R. 1; 23 B.C.A.C. 81; 39 W.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 37].

Canada (Attorney General) v. Mossop, [1993] 1 S.C.R. 554; 149 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 40].

R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103; 65 N.R. 87; 14 O.A.C. 335; 26 D.L.R.(4th) 200; 50 C.R.(3d) 1; 24 C.C.C.(3d) 321; 19 C.R.R. 308, refd to. [para. 45].

R. v. Videoflicks Ltd. et al., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 713; 71 N.R. 161; 19 O.A.C. 239; 30 C.C.C.(3d) 385; 55 C.R.(3d) 193; 35 D.L.R.(4th) 1; 28 C.R.R. 1, refd to. [para. 49].

Edwards Books and Art Ltd. v. R. - see R. v. Videoflicks Ltd. et al.

R. v. Edwards Books and Art Ltd. - see R. v. Videoflicks Ltd. et al.

Reference Re ss. 193 and 195.1(1)(c) of the Criminal Code (Man.), [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1123; 109 N.R. 81; 68 Man.R.(2d) 1; 56 C.C.C.(3d) 65; 77 C.R.(3d) 1; [1990] 4 W.W.R. 481, refd to. [para. 49].

Prostitution Reference - see Reference Re Section 193 and 195.1(1)(c) of the Criminal Code.

Renvoi relatif au Code criminel (Man.) - see Reference Re Sections 193 and 195(1)(c) of the Criminal Code.

Royal College of Dental Surgeons (Ont.) et al. v. Rocket and Price, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 232; 111 N.R. 161; 40 O.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 59].

Schachter v. Canada, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 679; 139 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 59].

Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General) et al., [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519; 158 N.R. 1; 34 B.C.A.C. 1; 56 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 61].

Sorochan v. Sorochan, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 38; 69 N.R. 81; 74 A.R. 67; [1986] 5 W.W.R. 289; 2 R.F.L.(2d) 225; 46 Alta. L.R.(2d) 97, refd to. [para. 81].

Moge v. Moge, [1992] 3 S.C.R. 813; 14 N.R. 1; 81 Man.R.(2d) 161; 30 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 81].

Leroux v. Co-operators General Insurance Co. (1991), 50 O.A.C. 220; 4 O.R.(3d) 609, refd to. [para. 109].

R. v. Hess; R. v. Nguyen, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 906; 119 N.R. 353; 46 O.A.C. 13; 73 Man.R.(2d) 1; 3 W.A.C. 1; [1990] 6 W.W.R. 289; 79 C.R.(3d) 332; 59 C.C.C.(3d) 161, refd to. [para. 122].

R. v. Nguyen - see R. v. Hess; R. v. Nguyen.

Reference Re Compulsory Arbitration, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 313; 74 N.R. 99; 78 A.R. 1; 38 D.L.R.(4th) 161, refd to. [para. 123].

Reference Re Public Service Employee Relations (Act) Alta. - see Reference Re Compulsory Arbitration.

R. v. Généreux, [1992] 1 S.C.R. 259; 133 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 124].

Maynard v. Hill (1888), 125 U.S. 190 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 143].

Meyer v. Nebraska (1923), 262 U.S. 390 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 144].

Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942), 316 U.S. 535 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 144].

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), 381 U.S. 479 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 144].

Loving v. Virginia (1967), 388 U.S. 1 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 144].

Boddie v. Connecticut (1971), 401 U.S. 371 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 144].

Cleveland Board of Education v. Lafleur (1974), 414 U.S. 632 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 144].

Moore v. East Cleveland (1977), 431 U.S. 494 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 144].

Zablocki v. Redhail (1978), 434 U.S. 374 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 144].

Marvin v. Marvin (1976), 557 P.2d 106 (Cal.), refd to. [para. 145].

Elden v. Sheldon (1988), 758 P.2d 582 (Cal.), refd to. [para. 145].

Beaty v. Truck Insurance Exchange (1992), 8 Cal. Rptr.2d 593 (Ct. App. 3 Dist.), refd to. [para. 145].

Human Rights Commission (Ont.) and Bates v. Zurich Insurance Co. [1992] 2 S.C.R. 321; 138 N.R. 1; 55 O.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 163].

Dickason and Human Rights Commission (Alta.) v. University of Alberta, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 1103; 141 N.R. 1; 127 A.R. 241; 20 W.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 163].

Human Rights Commission (Ont.) v. London Monenco Consultants Ltd. et al. (1992), 57 O.A.C. 222; 43 C.C.E.L. 291, refd to. [para. 164].

Norman v. Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (1983), 663 P.2d 904 (Cal.), refd to. [para. 180].

Hendrix v. General Motors Corp. (1983), 193 Cal.Rpt. 922 (Ct. App. 1st Dist.), refd to. [para. 180].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1, sect. 15(1) [para. 8].

Constitution Act, 1982, sect. 52 [para. 58].

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Free-doms, 213 U.N.T.S. 221, art. 12 [para. 146].

Family Law Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F-3, Part III [para. 37].

Family Law Reform Act, S.O. 1978, c. 2, generally [para. 167].

Human Rights Code, S.O. 1981, c. 53, sect. 9(j) [para. 52].

Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H-19, generally [para. 52].

Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 218, sect. 231, sect. 233 [para. 106].

Insurance Act Regulations (Ont.), Unin­sured Motorist Coverage Regulation, R.R.O. 1980, Reg. 535, generally [para. 106].

Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M-41, generally [para. 89].

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Regulation - see Insurance Act Regulations (Ont.).

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), G.A. Res. 217 A. (III), sect. 16 [para. 146].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Freedman, Michael D.A., and Christina M. Lyon, Cohabitation Without Marriage (1983), p. 191 [para. 148].

Gibson, Dale, Analogous Grounds of Discrimination Under the Canadian Charter: Too Much Ado About Next to Nothing (1991), 29 Alta. L. Rev. 772, p. 780 [para. 116].

Hafen, Bruce C., The Constitutional Status of Marriage, Kinship and Sexual Privacy -- Balancing the Individual and Social Interests (1983), 81 Mich. L. Rev. 463, p. 486 [para. 149].

Hogg, Peter W., Constitutional Law of Canada (2nd Ed. 1985), p. 800 [para. 9].

Holland, Winifred H., Marriage and Co­habitation -- Has the Time Come to Bridge the Gap? in Family Law: Roles, Fairness and Equality, Special Lectures of the Law Society of Upper Canada (1993), p. 369 [para. 80].

Counsel:

Giovanna Roccamo and Mark Edwards, for the appellants;

Catherine L. Jones and R. Cooligan, for the respondents;

Graham R. Garton, Q.C., and James Hendry, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Canada;

Rebecca Regenstreif, for the intervenor, Attorney General for Ontario;

Madeleine Aubé and Kathleen McNicoll, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Quebec;

Shawn Greenberg, for the intervenor, At­torney General of Manitoba;

W. Ian Binnie, Q.C., and Lisa A. Clarkson, appearing as amicus curiae.

Solicitors of Record:

Nelligan, Power, Ottawa, Ontario, for the appellants;

Colligan Ryan, Ottawa, Ontario, for the respondents;

Deputy Attorney General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Canada;

Ministry of the Attorney General, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, Attorney General for Ontario;

Kathleen McNicoll and Madeleine Aubé, Sainte-Foy, Quebec, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Quebec;

Department of Justice, Winnipeg, Manito-ba, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Manitoba;

McCarthy Tétrault, Toronto, Ontario, appointed by the court as amicus curiae.

This appeal was heard on June 2, 1994, before Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest, L'Heur­eux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On May 25, 1995, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

McLachlin, J. (Sopinka, Cory and Iaco­bucci, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 64;

L'Heureux-Dubé, J. - see paragraphs 65 to 102;

Gonthier, J. (Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest and Major, JJ., concurring), dissenting - see paragraphs 103 to 182.

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