R. v. Beaulac (J.V.), (1999) 238 N.R. 131 (SCC)

JudgeIacobucci, Major, Bastarache and Binnie, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateMay 20, 1999
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1999), 238 N.R. 131 (SCC);42 WCB (2d) 217;238 NR 131;121 BCAC 227;[1999] 1 SCR 768;[1999] ACS no 25;134 CCC (3d) 481;[1999] SCJ No 25 (QL);1999 CanLII 684 (SCC);173 DLR (4th) 193;62 CRR (2d) 133;JE 99-1082

R. v. Beaulac (J.V.) (1999), 238 N.R. 131 (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: [1999] N.R. TBEd. MY.020

Jean Victor Beaulac (appellant) v. Her Majesty The Queen (respondent) and The Attorney General of Canada, the Attorney General of Quebec, The Commissioner of Official Languages, Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario and Association des juristes d'expression française du Manitoba (intervenors)

(26416)

Indexed As: R. v. Beaulac (J.V.)

Supreme Court of Canada

Lamer, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin,

Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache and Binnie, JJ.

May 20, 1999.

Summary:

The accused was charged with murder. The first trial ended in a mistrial. The accused was convicted following the second trial, but a new trial was ordered as a result of jury charge errors. The accused was tried a third time and was again convicted. During the proceedings, the accused made five unsuc­cessful applications under s. 530 of the Criminal Code for trial before a bilingual judge and jury. The accused appealed.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal, in a judgment reported 98 B.C.A.C. 271; 161 W.A.C. 271, dismissed the appeal. The court held that the accused was sufficiently bilin­gual and conversant in the English language to make full answer and defence. Accord­ing­ly, there was no lack of trial fairness in denying a trial in French. The accused appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial before a bilingual judge and jury.

Civil Rights - Topic 2703

Language - General principles - Interpre­ta­tion of language rights legislation - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "lan­guage rights must in all cases be inter­preted purposively, in a manner consistent with the preservation and development of official language communities in Canada" -See paragraph 19.

Civil Rights - Topic 2947

Language - Criminal proceedings - Right to trial in either official language - An accused was ultimately convicted of mur­der after three trials - The accused had made five unsuccessful applications for either a bilingual trial or a trial in French (Criminal Code, s. 530) - Section 530(1) provided for an absolute right to trial in one's official language when the appli­cation was timely - Section 530(4) pro­vided for discretionary access to such trial when the application was not timely - The basis for denying the accused a trial before a bilingual judge and jury was that he was sufficiently bilingual to allow him to make full answer and defence in English (i.e., no trial unfairness) - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the accused was entitled, under s. 530(4), to trial before a bilingual judge and jury - The Crown adduced no specific evidence showing that the trial process would be adversely affected - The accused had diligently sought a bilingual trial at every available opportunity - See paragraphs 1 to 50.

Civil Rights - Topic 2947

Language - Criminal proceedings - Right to trial in either official language - Section 530(1) of the Criminal Code provided an absolute right to a trial in one's official language when the application was timely -Section 530(4) provided for discretionary right to such trial where there was no timely application under s. 530(1) - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "courts must give effect to s. 530 of the Code in light of its remedial character, its substantive nature and its object, which is foremost to assist members of the two official language communities to enjoy equal access to specific services, in specific courts, in their own language. Absent evidence that the accused does not speak the language chosen, an accused is free to make his or her choice of the official language spoken by the judge or judge and jury by whom he or she will be tried, providing his or her application is timely. The exercise of discretion by the judge under s. 530(4) of the Code is based on the additional difficulties caused by an untime­ly application and the reasons for the delay. Administrative inconvenience is not a relevant factor, nor is the language pro­ficiency of the accused in the official language not chosen by him or her; fair­ness of the trial is not a language rights issue. Any denial of the s. 530(4) right is exceptional and must be justified; the burden of this demonstration is on the Crown. In the case of a new trial, there is an even stronger presumption in favour of an accused because of the similarity between that situation and the one contem­plated in s. 530(1)." - See paragraph 50.

Civil Rights - Topic 2947

Language - Criminal proceedings - Right to trial in either official language - Section 530(1) of the Criminal Code provided an absolute right to a trial in one's official language when the application was timely -Section 530(4) provided for discretionary right to such trial where there was no timely application under s. 530(1) - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "when a new trial is ordered, conceptually and practically, the situation is almost the same as if the parties were at the beginning of the original trial process. But, there are some differences. One can imagine, for example, the situation of an accused who made no s. 530 application at a first trial on a particular charge, and then requested a second trial in the other official lan­guage. In such an eventuality, the Crown prosecutor, who would have gone through the first trial, might have to be replaced for the retrial. ... it is possible that some cir­cumstances will have to be considered when a new trial is ordered. That is the main reason why s. 530(4) must apply to this situation rather than s. 530(1)." - See paragraph 25.

Criminal Law - Topic 5045

Appeals - Indictable offences - Dismissal of appeal if no prejudice, substantial wrong or miscarriage results - Substantial wrong or miscarriage of justice - What constitutes - An accused convicted of murder was unjustifiably denied his right to trial before a bilingual judge and jury (Criminal Code, s. 530(4)) - The Crown sought the invo­cation of s. 686(1)(b) of the Criminal Code to dismiss the appeal notwithstanding the error, submitting that the accused was not prejudiced because he had a fair trial - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "given the nature of language rights, the requirement of substantive equality, the purpose of s. 530 ..., and the objective of s. 686, I believe that the violation of s. 530 constitutes a substantial wrong and not a procedural irregularity. Accordingly, s. 686(1)(b) has no application in this case and a new trial must be ordered." - See paragraphs 46 to 48.

Words and Phrases

Best interests of justice - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of the phrase "best interests of justice", as found in s. 530 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - See paragraphs 30 to 38.

Words and Phrases

Language of the accused - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of the phrase "language of the accused", as found in s. 530 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - See paragraphs 26 to 29.

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Litchfield, [1993] 4 S.C.R. 333; 161 N.R. 161; 145 A.R. 321; 55 W.A.C. 321; 86 C.C.C.(3d) 97; 14 Alta.L.R.(3d) 1; 25 C.R.(4th) 137, refd to. [para. 5].

Official Languages Act, Re, [1975] 2 S.C.R. 182; 1 N.R. 582; 7 N.B.R.(2d) 526, refd to. [para. 9].

Jones v. New Brunswick (Attorney Gen­eral) - see Official Languages Act, Re.

Blaikie v. Quebec (Attorney General) et al., [1979] 2 S.C.R. 1016; 30 N.R. 225, refd to. [para. 9].

Blaikie v. Quebec (Attorney General) et al., [1981] 1 S.C.R. 312; 36 N.R. 120, refd to. [para. 9].

Manitoba Language Rights Reference, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 721; 59 N.R. 321; 35 Man.R.(2d) 83; 19 D.L.R.(4th) 1; [1985] 4 W.W.R. 385, refd to. [para. 9].

Montréal (City) v. MacDonald, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 460; 67 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 10].

Société des Acadiens du Nouveau-Bruns­wick Inc. and Association de conseillers scolaires francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick v. Minority Language School Board No. 50 and Association of Parents for Fairness in Education, Grand Falls District 50 Branch, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 549; 66 N.R. 173; 69 N.B.R.(2d) 271; 177 A.P.R. 271; 27 D.L.R.(4th) 406, not folld. [para. 10].

Bilodeau v. Manitoba (Attorney General), [1986] 1 S.C.R. 449; 67 N.R. 108; 42 Man.R.(2d) 242, refd to. [para. 10].

Chaussure Brown's Inc. et al. v. Québec (Procureur général), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 712; 90 N.R. 84; 19 Q.A.C. 69, refd to. [para. 11].

Ford v. Québec (Procureur général) - see Chaussure Brown's Inc. et al. v. Québec (Procureur général).

Mahe, Martel, Dubé and Association d'Ecole Georges et Julia Bugnet v. Alberta, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 342; 105 N.R. 321; 106 A.R. 321, refd to. [para. 12].

Manitoba Language Rights Reference (No. 2), [1992] 1 S.C.R. 212; 133 N.R. 88; 76 Man.R.(2d) 124; 10 W.A.C. 124, refd to. [para. 13].

Reference Re Public Schools Act (Man.), [1993] 1 S.C.R. 839; 149 N.R. 241; 83 Man.R.(2d) 241; 36 W.A.C. 241, refd to. [para. 13].

R. v. Simard (1995), 27 O.R.(3d) 116 (Eng.); 27 O.R.(3d) 97 (Fr.) (C.A.), refd to. [para. 15].

Canada (Attorney General) v. Viola et al., [1991] 1 F.C. 373; 123 N.R. 83 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 15].

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. 18].

Haig et al. v. Canada; Haig et al. v. Kingsley, [1993] 2 S.C.R. 995; 156 N.R. 81; 105 D.L.R.(4th) 577; 16 C.R.R.(2d) 193, refd to. [para. 18].

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. 18].

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

Eldridge et al. v. British Columbia (At­torney General), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 624; 218 N.R. 161; 96 B.C.A.C. 81; 155 W.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 18].

R. v. Thomas (A.F.), [1998] 3 S.C.R. 535; 223 N.R. 266; 115 B.C.A.C. 161; 189 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 24].

R. v. Yancey (1899), 2 C.C.C. 320 (Que. C.A.), refd to. [para. 26].

Piperno v. R., [1953] 2 S.C.R. 292, refd to. [para. 26].

R. v. Bernardo (P.K.) (1997), 105 O.A.C. 244; 121 C.C.C.(3d) 123 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 30].

Robin v. Collège de Saint-Boniface (1984), 30 Man.R.(2d) 50; 15 D.L.R.(4th) 198 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 41].

R. v. Paquette (1985), 63 A.R. 258; 40 Alta. L.R.(2d) 38 (Q.B.), refd to. [para. 41].

R. v. Tran (Q.D.), [1994] 2 S.C.R. 951; 170 N.R. 81; 133 N.S.R.(2d) 81; 380 A.P.R. 81; 92 C.C.C.(3d) 218; 32 C.R.(4th) 34, refd to. [para. 47].

Reference Re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 S.C.R. 217; 228 N.R. 203; 161 D.L.R.(4th) 385, refd to. [para. 54].

Reference Re Roman Catholic Separate High Schools Funding, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 1148; 77 N.R. 241; 22 O.A.C. 321; 40 D.L.R.(4th) 18, refd to. [para. 56].

Education Act Amendment Act (Ont.), Reference Re - see Reference Re Roman Catholic Separate High Schools Funding.

Reference Re Bill 30, An Act to Amend the Education Act (Ont.) - see Reference Re Roman Catholic Separate High Schools Funding.

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 16(1), sect. 16(3) [para. 6].

Constitution Act, 1867, sect. 133 [para. 6].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 530(1), sect. 530(4), sect. 530.1, sect. 686(1)(b)(iii), sect. 686(1)(b)(iv), sect. 686(5), sect. 686(8) [para. 6].

Official Languages Act, R.S.C. 1985 (4th Supp.), c. 31, sect. 2 [para. 6].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Canada, Commissioner of Official Lan­guages of Canada, The Equitable Use of English and French before the Courts in Canada (1995), p. 105 [para. 31].

Canada, Hansard, House of Commons Debates (3rd Sess., 30th Parl.), vol. 5, p. 5087 [para. 17].

Canada, Hansard, House of Commons Debates (1st Sess., 33rd Parl.) (May 6, 1986), vol. 9, p. 12999 [para. 16].

Canada, Hansard, House of Commons Debates (2nd Sess., 33rd Parl.) (July 7, 1988), vol. 14, p. 17220 [para. 17].

Cholewinski, B., State Duty Towards Ethnic Minorities: Positive or Negative? (1988), 10 Human Rts. Q. 344, generally [para. 14].

Jones, P., Human Rights, Group Rights and Peoples' Rights (1999), 21 Human Rts. Q. 80, p. 83 [para. 14].

Oestreich, J.E., Liberal Theory and Mi­nority Group Rights (1999), 21 Human Rts. Q. 108, p. 112 [para. 14].

Pelletier, B., Bilan des droits linguistiques au Canada (1995), 55 R. du B. 611, pp. 620 to 627 [para. 15].

Riddell, A., A la recherche du temps perdu: la Cour suprême et l'interprétation des droits linguistiques constitutionnels dans les années 80 (1988), 29 C. de D. 829, p. 846 [para. 18].

Counsel:

David Griffiths, for the appellant;

William F. Ehrcke, Q.C., and Geoffrey R. Gaul, for the respondent;

Bernard Laprade and Michel Francoeur, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Canada;

Jean-Yves Bernard, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Quebec;

Richard Tardif and Ingride Roy, for the intervenor, Commissioner of Official Languages;

Nathalie Des Rosiers, for the intervenor, Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario;

Laurent J. Roy, Q.C., and Michel L.J. Chartier, for the intervenor, Association des juristes d'expression française du Manitoba.

Solicitors of Record:

Wilson & Buck, Vancouver, B.C., for the appellant;

Ministry of the Attorney General, Vancouver, B.C., for the respondent;

Department of Justice, Ottawa, Ontario, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Canada;

Jean-Yves Bernard and Monique Rousseau, Montreal, Quebec, for the intervenor, Attorney General of Quebec;

Richard Tardif, Ottawa, Ontario, for the intervenor, Commissioner of Official Languages;

Nathalie Des Rosiers and Peel & Colvin, London, Ontario, for the intervenor, Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario;

Monk, Goodwin, Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the intervenor, Association des juristes d'expression française du Manitoba.

This appeal was heard on February 24, 1999, before Lamer, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache and Binnie, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On May 20, 1999, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

Bastarache, J. (L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major, JJ., concurring) - see para­graphs 1 to 51;

Lamer, C.J.C., and Binnie, J. - see para­graphs 52 to 57.

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