Ontario (Minister of the Environment) v. Castonguay Blasting Ltd., (2013) 449 N.R. 266 (SCC)

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., LeBel, Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Karakatsanis and Wagner, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateOctober 17, 2013
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(2013), 449 N.R. 266 (SCC);2013 SCC 52

Ont. v. Castonguay Blasting Ltd. (2013), 449 N.R. 266 (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: [2013] N.R. TBEd. OC.010

Castonguay Blasting Ltd. (appellant) v. Her Majesty The Queen in Right of the Province of Ontario as represented by the Minister of the Environment (respondent) and Canadian Environmental Law Association and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (intervenors)

(34816; 2013 SCC 52; 2013 CSC 52)

Indexed As: Ontario (Minister of the Environment) v. Castonguay Blasting Ltd.

Supreme Court of Canada

McLachlin, C.J.C., LeBel, Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Karakatsanis and Wagner, JJ.

October 17, 2013.

Summary:

A blasting company was acquitted on a charge of failing to report the discharge of a contaminant into the environment contrary to s. 15(1) of the Environmental Protection Act (Ont.). The Minister of the Environment (Ont.) appealed.

The Ontario Superior Court, in a judgment reported [2011] O.T.C. Uned. 767, allowed the appeal and entered a conviction. The company appealed.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, R.A. Blair, J.A., dissenting, in a judgment reported (2012), 289 O.A.C. 146, dismissed the appeal. The company appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal.

Pollution Control - Topic 4

General principles - General - Environmental legislation - Interpretation - The Supreme Court of Canada held that "the [Environmental Protection Act] is Ontario's principal environmental protection statute. Its status as remedial legislation entitles it to a generous interpretation ... Moreover, as this court has recognized ... environmental protection is a complex subject matter - the environment itself and the wide range of activities which might harm it are not easily conducive to precise codification ... As a result, environmental legislation embraces an expansive approach to ensure that it can adequately respond 'to a wide variety of environmentally harmful scenarios, including ones which might not have been foreseen by the drafters of the legislation' ... Because the legislature is pursuing the objective of environmental protection, its intended reach is wide and deep" - See paragraph 9.

Pollution Control - Topic 9124

Offences - Strict liability offences - Failure to notify - Section 14(1) of the Environmental Protection Act (Ont.) prohibited the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment, if the discharge caused, or "may cause" an adverse effect - Section 15(1) required that any such discharge be reported to the Ministry of the Environment - The definition of "adverse effect" in s. 1(1) included injury or damage to property - A blasting operation "went awry" - Rock debris (fly-rock) went flying into the air, travelled 90 metres, landed on a house and a vehicle on neighbouring private property, and damaged them - The blasting company was charged with failing to report the discharge of a contaminant into the environment contrary to s. 15(1) - The Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed the company's conviction - A blasting activity gone wrong might not have caused more than trivial or minimal harm to the air, land or water - However, the fly-rock did cause significant harm to property, a different adverse effect under the Act - Importantly, the direct conduit resulting in this harm was the company's use of the environment (the air) to disperse a contaminant (fly-rock) - There was no policy reason for limiting the coverage of the EPA to fact situations where serious adverse effects to people, animals and property could be considered only if the environment was also harmed by the impugned activity - The Supreme Court of Canada agreed, stating that "there is clarity both of legislative purpose and language: the Ministry of the Environment must be notified when there has been a discharge of a contaminant out of the normal course of events without waiting for proof that the natural environment has, in fact, been impaired. In other words: when in doubt, report." - See paragraph 2.

Cases Noticed:

Ontario v. Canadian Pacific Ltd., [1995] 2 S.C.R. 1031; 183 N.R. 325; 82 O.A.C. 243, refd to. [para. 9].

R. v. Dow Chemical Canada Inc. (2000), 130 O.A.C. 26; 47 O.R.(3d) 577 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 10].

114957 Canada ltée (Spraytech, Société d'arrosage) et al. v. Hudson (Town), [2001] 2 S.C.R. 241; 271 N.R. 201; 2001 SCC 40, refd to. [para. 20].

Statutes Noticed:

Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E-19, sect. 1(1) [para. 14]; sect. 15(1) [para. 13].

Authors and Works Noticed:

McIntyre, Owen, and Mosedale, Thomas, The Precautionary Principle as a Norm of Customary International Law (1997), 9 J. Envtl. L. 221, pp. 221, 222 [para. 20].

Counsel:

J. Bruce McMeekin, Andrea Farkouh and Marie-France Major, for the appellant;

Sara Blake, Paul McCulloch and Danielle Meuleman, for the respondent;

Jospeh E. Castrilli and Ramani Nadarajah, for the intervenors.

Solicitors of Record:

Miller Thomson, Markham; Supreme Advocacy, Ottawa, Ontario, for the appellant;

Attorney General of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, for the respondent;

Canadian Environmental Law Association, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenors.

This appeal was heard on May 17, 2013, before McLachlin, C.J.C., LeBel, Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Karakatsanis and Wagner, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On October 17, 2013, Abella, J., delivered the following judgment in both official languages for the Court.

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59 practice notes
  • Morton c. Canada (Pêches et Océans),
    • Canada
    • Federal Court (Canada)
    • February 4, 2019
    ...d’arrosage) v. Hudson (Town), 2001 SCC 40, [2001] 2 S.C.R. 241; Castonguay Blasting Ltd. v. Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 323; Lake Waseosa Ratepayers’ Association v. Pieper, 2008 CanLII 65771 (Ont. Sup. Ct. (Div. Ct.)); Frémy v. Canada (Attorney Gen......
  • Reference re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, 2020 ABCA 74
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Alberta)
    • February 24, 2020
    ...v Lake Ontario Cement, [1973] 2 OR 247 (HC). See as an example of the reach of such laws: Castonguay Blasting Ltd v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52, [2013] 3 SCR 323. [182] Ontario Reference at para 80. [183] See the speech of the Earl of Derby regarding forming a Select Committee “to in......
  • Court Of Appeal Summaries (June 20 ' 24, 2022)
    • Canada
    • Mondaq Canada
    • June 27, 2022
    ...99(3)(7)(8), 100(4), Canada Trustco Mortgage Co. v Canada, 2005 SCC 54, Castonguay Blasting Ltd. v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52, Midwest Properties Ltd. V Thordarson, 2015 ONCA 819, MVL Leasing Ltd. V CCI Group Inc., 2018 ONSC 1800, Moore v Sweet, 2018 SCC 52, Sez-A-Me-Inc. v Drewlo H......
  • A Statutory Solution to Ontario’s Environmental Class Action Problem: Section 99(2) of the Environmental Protection Act
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books The Canadian Class Action Review No. 14-2, March 2019
    • March 1, 2019
    ...at 1965 (Hon Harry C Parrott) [Hansard 15/05/1979]. 42 Ibid at 1952 (Marion Bryden). 43 Castonguay Blasting Ltd v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52 at para 9 [Castonguay Blasting]. 44 Stanley Makuch, “The Spills Bill — An Overview” in Stanley Makuch, ed, The Spills Bill: Duties, Rights and......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Morton c. Canada (Pêches et Océans),
    • Canada
    • Federal Court (Canada)
    • February 4, 2019
    ...d’arrosage) v. Hudson (Town), 2001 SCC 40, [2001] 2 S.C.R. 241; Castonguay Blasting Ltd. v. Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 323; Lake Waseosa Ratepayers’ Association v. Pieper, 2008 CanLII 65771 (Ont. Sup. Ct. (Div. Ct.)); Frémy v. Canada (Attorney Gen......
  • Reference re Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, 2020 ABCA 74
    • Canada
    • Court of Appeal (Alberta)
    • February 24, 2020
    ...v Lake Ontario Cement, [1973] 2 OR 247 (HC). See as an example of the reach of such laws: Castonguay Blasting Ltd v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52, [2013] 3 SCR 323. [182] Ontario Reference at para 80. [183] See the speech of the Earl of Derby regarding forming a Select Committee “to in......
  • Morton v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) et al., 2015 FC 575
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Federal Court (Canada)
    • May 6, 2015
    ...[2001] 2 S.C.R. 241; 271 N.R. 201; 2001 SCC 40, refd to. [para. 41]. Ontario (Minister of the Environment) v. Castonguay Blasting Ltd. (2013), 449 N.R. 266; 2013 SCC 52, refd to. [para. 42]. Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd. (Bankrupt), Re, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 27; 221 N.R. 241; 106 O.A.C. 1, refd to......
  • Responsible Plastic Use Coalition v. Canada (Environment and Climate Change),
    • Canada
    • Federal Court (Canada)
    • November 16, 2023
    ...legislation that is intended to respond to a wide variety of dangerous scenarios: Castonguay Blasting Ltd v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52 at para [80] In my view, these arguments are intimately linked to the further issue of whether the GIC acted outside their authority because the sec......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 firm's commentaries
  • Court Of Appeal Summaries (June 20 ' 24, 2022)
    • Canada
    • Mondaq Canada
    • June 27, 2022
    ...99(3)(7)(8), 100(4), Canada Trustco Mortgage Co. v Canada, 2005 SCC 54, Castonguay Blasting Ltd. v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52, Midwest Properties Ltd. V Thordarson, 2015 ONCA 819, MVL Leasing Ltd. V CCI Group Inc., 2018 ONSC 1800, Moore v Sweet, 2018 SCC 52, Sez-A-Me-Inc. v Drewlo H......
  • Ontario Court Of Appeal Summaries (December 10 – 14, 2018)
    • Canada
    • Mondaq Canada
    • December 20, 2018
    ...2006, c 21, Sched F, s 64(1), R v Debot, [1989] 2 SCR 1140, R v Kalsatos, 2016 ONCJ 252, Castonguay Blasting Ltd v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52, Dow Chemical Canada Inc (2000), 47 OR (3d) 577, Re Rockcliffe Park Realty Ltd and Director of the Ministry of the Environment et al (1976), ......
  • Obligations To Report Release Of Contaminants
    • Canada
    • Mondaq Canada
    • November 4, 2013
    ...interpreted a spill reporting obligation in Ontario's environmental legislation. In Castonguay Blasting Ltd. v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52, the Court held that the obligation to report incidents involving a release of materials did not require proof of impairment to the natural envir......
  • Validity Of Waste Permit Doesn't Depend Upon 'Zero Environmental Risk'
    • Canada
    • Mondaq Canada
    • April 20, 2015
    ...but discharge contaminants into the air and water. The Precautionary Principle recognized in domestic (Castonguay Blasting ltd. v Ontario 2013 SCC 52) and international law (Bergen Ministerial Declaration on Sustainable Development 1990) has assumed an important role in interpreting environ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 books & journal articles
  • A Statutory Solution to Ontario’s Environmental Class Action Problem: Section 99(2) of the Environmental Protection Act
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books The Canadian Class Action Review No. 14-2, March 2019
    • March 1, 2019
    ...at 1965 (Hon Harry C Parrott) [Hansard 15/05/1979]. 42 Ibid at 1952 (Marion Bryden). 43 Castonguay Blasting Ltd v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52 at para 9 [Castonguay Blasting]. 44 Stanley Makuch, “The Spills Bill — An Overview” in Stanley Makuch, ed, The Spills Bill: Duties, Rights and......
  • How Class Actions Have Shaped Litigation Financing Law in Canada
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books The Canadian Class Action Review No. 14-2, March 2019
    • March 1, 2019
    ...at 1965 (Hon Harry C Parrott) [Hansard 15/05/1979]. 42 Ibid at 1952 (Marion Bryden). 43 Castonguay Blasting Ltd v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52 at para 9 [Castonguay Blasting]. 44 Stanley Makuch, “The Spills Bill — An Overview” in Stanley Makuch, ed, The Spills Bill: Duties, Rights and......
  • Table of cases
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books Environmental Law. Fifth Edition
    • June 22, 2019
    ...[1997] ICJ Rep 3 ........................................................... 19 Castonguay Blasting Ltd v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52 .............. 15, 148 Centre québecois du droit de l’environnement c Oléoduc Énergie Est ltée, 2014 QCCS 4147 .............................................
  • Table of Cases
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books The Law Society of Upper Canada Special Lectures 2017
    • June 24, 2021
    ........................... 12–14, 17, 33, 39, 195, 470, 546, 556–58, 572–73, 582, 584, 586 Castonguay Blasting Ltd v Ontario (Environment), 2013 SCC 52 ...................... 183 Catholic Civil Rights League v Hendricks, 2004 CanLII 20538 (Que CA) ........569 Centre québécois du droit de l’en......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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