R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., (1998) 163 Sask.R. 161 (SCC)

JudgeLamer, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka*,  Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci,  Major and Bastarache, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateApril 02, 1998
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1998), 163 Sask.R. 161 (SCC)

R. v. Lucas (J.D.) (1998), 163 Sask.R. 161 (SCC);

    165 W.A.C. 161

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: [1998] Sask.R. TBEd. AP.006

John David Lucas and Johanna Erna Lucas (appellants) v. Her Majesty The Queen (respondent) and the Attorney General of Canada, the Attorney General for Ontario, the Attorney General of Manitoba and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (intervenors)

(25177)

Indexed As: R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

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

April 2, 1998.

Summary:

The accused were charged with publishing a defamatory libel knowing it to be false, contrary to ss. 300 and 301 of the Criminal Code. Prior to the trial, the accused applied for a declaration that ss. 300 and 301 of the Criminal Code constituted an unreasonable limitation of one or more of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by ss. 2, 7, 11(c) and 11(d) of the Charter and were thereby of no force and effect. The accused also sought a declaration that ss. 300 and 301 failed to describe an offence known in law and were thereby of no force and effect.

The Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench, in a decision reported at 129 Sask.R. 53, held that s. 300 of the Code was consti­tutional and valid, but declared that s. 301 was unconstitutional and of no force or effect. Both accused were subsequently convicted of defamatory libel contrary to s. 300 of the Criminal Code.

The Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench, in a decision reported at 132 Sask.R. 71, sentenced the accused John Lucas to imprisonment of two years less one day and the accused Johanna Lucas to 22 months' imprisonment. The accused appealed their convictions and sentences.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, in a decision reported at 137 Sask.R. 312; 107 W.A.C. 312, dismissed the conviction appeals and allowed the sentence appeals. The accused appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada, Major and McLachlin, JJ., dissenting in part, dismissed the appeals.

* Sopinka, J., took no part in the judg­ment.

Civil Rights - Topic 1843.1

Freedom of speech or expression - Limi­tations on - Defamation - [See all Crimi­nal Law - Topic 1523 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 3107

Trials - Due process, fundamental justice and fair hearings - Void for vagueness doctrine - The Supreme Court of Canada held that ss. 298, 299 and 300 of the Criminal Code (the defamatory libel pro­visions) were not so vague that they infringed s. 7 of the Charter - See para­graphs 29 to 30.

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limits prescribed by law (Charter, s. 1) - The Supreme Court of Canada found that ss. 298, 299 and 300 of the Criminal Code (the defamatory libel provisions) violated s. 2(b) of the Charter - In considering whether the impugned provisions could be upheld under s. 1 of the Charter, the court rejected a submission that the sections were too vague to constitute a "limit prescribed by law" - See paragraphs 35 to 39.

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limits prescribed by law (Charter, s. 1) - [See all Criminal Law - Topic 1523 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8380.14

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Remedies - Severance of portion of statute or section - [See fifth Criminal Law - Topic 1523 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8554

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Interpretation - Particular words and phrases - Prescribed by law - [See first Civil Rights - Topic 8348 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 1523

Offences against person and reputation - Defamatory libel - Validity of legislation - The Supreme Court of Canada found that ss. 298, 299 and 300 of the Criminal Code (the defamatory libel provisions) violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Charter - However, the court held that, subject to reading out part of s. 299, the sections should be upheld as a demonstrably justi­fiable limit under s. 1 of the Charter - The court stated that the minimal degree of protection to be accorded defamatory lies and the meritorious object of the chal­lenged sections, combined to facilitate the justification of the infringement of s. 2(b) of the Charter - See paragraphs 23 to 97.

Criminal Law - Topic 1523

Offences against person and reputation - Defamatory libel - Validity of legislation - The Supreme Court of Canada found that ss. 298, 299 and 300 of the Criminal Code (defamatory libel provisions) violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Charter - However, the court held that, subject to reading out part of s. 299, the provisions should be upheld as a demonstrably justifiable limit under s. 1 of the Charter - The court rejected an argument that the protection of reputation could be adequately achieved through the use of the civil law and therefore the use of punitive criminal sanctions was not minimally impairing as required by s. 1 - The court stated that the criminal offence was not overbroad or ineffectual simply because a civil remedy existed - See para­graphs 69 to 76.

Criminal Law - Topic 1523

Offences against person and reputation - Defamatory libel - Validity of legislation - The Supreme Court of Canada found that ss. 298, 299 and 300 of the Criminal Code (defamatory libel provisions) violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Charter - However, the court held that, subject to reading out part of s. 299, the provisions should be upheld as a demonstrably justifiable limit under s. 1 of the Charter - The court agreed that s. 298 would be overly intrusive if the phrase "or that is designed to insult the person" was construed so that mere insults could constitute a criminal offence - However, the court held that when s. 298 was read in the context of the aim of the section and the French text was taken into account, the phrase "or that is designed to insult the person" should be read as requiring proof of a grave insult - Therefore the inclusion of insults in the definition of defamatory libel was minimally impairing - See para­graphs 77 to 82.

Criminal Law - Topic 1523

Offences against person and reputation - Defamatory libel - Validity of legislation - The Supreme Court of Canada found that ss. 298, 299 and 300 of the Criminal Code (the defamatory libel provisions) violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Charter - The court then proceeded to determine whether the provisions could be saved under s. 1 of the Charter - An argument was made that the requirement in s. 298 that the pub­lished defamatory matter need only be "likely to injure the reputation of any person" was not constitutionally valid since proof of harm was generally required in criminal law, particularly in the area of free expression - The court rejected the argument - See paragraph 83.

Criminal Law - Topic 1523

Offences against person and reputation - Defamatory libel - Validity of legislation - The Supreme Court of Canada found that ss. 298, 299 and 300 of the Criminal Code (the defamatory libel provisions) violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Charter - The court then proceeded to determine whether the provisions could be saved under s. 1 of the Charter - The court held that the por­tion of s. 299(c) which made it an offence to publish a defamatory libel when the defamatory statement was shown or delivered "with intent that it should be read or seen by the person whom it defames" was too broad and could not be justified - The provision was contrary to the funda­mental element of libel, which was publi­cation to a person other than the one defamed - The court held that the phrase "by the person whom it defames or" should therefore be severed from s. 299(c) - See paragraphs 83 to 87.

Criminal Law - Topic 1524

Offences against person and reputation - Defamatory libel - Intention - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that it would be contrary to constitutional prin­ciples to interpret s. 300 of the Criminal Code (defamatory libel) as requiring any­thing less than a subjective intent to defame - Accordingly, the Crown could only make out the offence of defamatory libel if it proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to defame the victim - See paragraphs 67 and 68.

Criminal Law - Topic 1524

Offences against person and reputation - Defamatory libel - Intention - The accused husband and wife believed that a police officer was aware of a situation involving sexual abuse of children and that the officer had a duty to intervene - The accused picketed outside the Provincial Court and the police headquarters where the officer worked - They carried placards which read, inter alia, "Did [the officer] just allow or help with the rape/sodomy of an 8 year old girl?" and "If you admit it [officer] then you might get help with your touching problem" - The accused were convicted of defamatory libel contrary to s. 300 of the Criminal Code - The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the convictions - The requisite mens rea was proved where the accused intended to defame the police officer and they knew that the objective meaning of the words on the placards was false - See paragraphs 90 to 110.

Statutes - Topic 1806

Interpretation - Intrinsic aids - Bilingual statutes - Interpretation of one version by reference to the other - [See third Crimi­nal Law - Topic 1523 ].

Statutes - Topic 1845

Interpretation - Intrinsic aids - Titles, headings and section numbers - Headings and marginal notes - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that headings in a statute can properly be taken into account in determining the intentions of Parliament - See paragraph 47.

Cases Noticed:

R. v. D.R., H.R. and D.W., [1996] 2 S.C.R. 291; 197 N.R. 321; 144 Sask.R. 81; 124 W.A.C. 81; 107 C.C.C.(3d) 289, refd to. [para. 3].

Gleaves v. Deakin, [1979] 2 All E.R. 497 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 11].

Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Québec (Procureur géné­ral), [1989] 1 S.C.R. 927; 94 N.R. 167; 24 Q.A.C. 2; 58 D.L.R.(4th) 577; 25 C.P.R.(3d) 417, refd to. [para. 12].

R. v. Stevens (B.G.) (1995), 100 Man.R.(2d) 81; 91 W.A.C. 81; 96 C.C.C.(3d) 238 (C.A.), consd. [para. 20].

Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (Attorney General), [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1326; 102 N.R. 321; 103 A.R. 321; 64 D.L.R.(4th) 577; [1990] 1 W.W.R. 577; 71 Alta. L.R.(2d) 273; 45 C.R.R. 1, refd to. [paras. 24, 117].

R. v. Keegstra, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 697; 117 N.R. 1; 114 A.R. 81; 1 C.R.(4th) 129; 77 Alta. L.R.(2d) 193; [1991] 2 W.W.R. 1; 61 C.C.C.(3d) 1; 3 C.R.R.(2d) 193, refd to. [para. 25].

R. v. Zundel (No. 2), [1992] 2 S.C.R. 731; 140 N.R. 1; 56 O.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 26].

Libman v. Quebec (Attorney General), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 569; 218 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 27].

R. v. Nova Scotia Pharmaceutical Society (No. 2), [1992] 2 S.C.R. 606; 139 N.R. 241; 114 N.S.R.(2d) 91; 313 A.P.R. 91; 74 C.C.C.(3d) 289, refd to. [para. 29].

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, appld. [paras. 31, 113].

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. New Brunswick (Attorney General), [1996] 3 S.C.R. 480; 203 N.R. 169; 182 N.B.R.(2d) 81; 463 A.P.R. 81; 110 C.C.C.(3d) 193, refd to. [paras. 34, 117].

R. v. Holbrook (1878), 4 Q.B.D. 42, refd to. [para. 45].

Skapinker v. Law Society of Upper Canada, [1984] 1 S.C.R. 357; 53 N.R. 169; 3 O.A.C. 321; 11 C.C.C.(3d) 481; 9 D.L.R.(4th) 161; 8 C.R.R. 193, refd to. [para. 47].

R. v. Wigglesworth, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 541; 81 N.R. 161; 61 Sask.R. 105; 24 O.A.C. 321; 45 D.L.R.(4th) 235; [1988] 1 W.W.R. 193; 60 C.R.(3d) 193; 28 Admin. L.R. 294; 32 C.R.R. 219; 37 C.C.C.(3d) 385, refd to. [para. 47].

R. v. Skoke-Graham et al., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 106; 57 N.R. 321, refd to. [para. 47].

R. v. Kelly, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 170; 137 N.R. 161; 9 B.C.A.C. 161; 19 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 47].

RJR-MacDonald Inc. et Imperial Tobacco Ltd. v. Canada (Procureur général), [1995] 3 S.C.R. 199; 187 N.R. 1, refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. Johnson et al., [1994] 3 S.C.R. 965; 174 N.R. 321; 76 O.A.C. 241; 94 C.C.C.(3d) 385, refd to. [para. 55].

R. v. Laba - see R. v. Johnson et al.

R. v. Stevens (1993), 82 C.C.C.(3d) 97 (Man. Prov. Ct.), refd to. [para. 59].

R. v. Lord Abingdon (1794), 1 Esp. 226; 170 E.R. 337 (K.B.), refd to. [para. 59].

R. v. Burdett (1820), 4 B. & Ald. 95; 106 E.R. 873, refd to. [para. 61].

Sweet v. Parsley, [1970] A.C. 132, refd to. [para. 64].

R. v. Sault Ste. Marie (City), [1978] 2 S.C.R. 1299; 21 N.R. 295; 85 D.L.R.(3d) 161; 40 C.C.C.(2d) 353; 3 C.R.(3d) 30; 7 C.E.L.R. 53, refd to. [para. 64].

R. v. Vaillancourt, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 636; 81 N.R. 115; 10 Q.A.C. 161; 68 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 281; 209 A.P.R. 281; 60 C.R.(3d) 289; 39 C.C.C.(3d) 118, refd to. [para. 64].

R. v. Collins, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 265; 74 N.R. 276; 56 C.R.(3d) 193; [1987] 3 W.W.R. 699; 38 D.L.R.(4th) 508; 33 C.C.C.(3d) 1; 13 B.C.L.R.(2d) 1; 28 C.R.R. 122, refd to. [para. 80].

Canada (Attorney General) et al. v. Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada et al., [1997] 3 S.C.R. 440; 216 N.R. 321, refd to. [para. 84].

Schachter v. Canada et al., [1992] 2 S.C.R. 679; 139 N.R. 1; 93 D.L.R.(4th) 1; 92 C.L.L.C. 14,036; 10 C.R.R.(2d) 1, refd to. [para. 87].

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; 48 C.C.C.(3d) 193, refd to. [para. 89].

Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto and Manning, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 1130; 184 N.R. 1; 84 O.A.C. 1; 126 D.L.R.(4th) 129, refd to. [para. 92].

R. v. Jorgensen (R.) et al., [1995] 4 S.C.R. 55; 189 N.R. 1; 87 O.A.C. 1; 102 C.C.C.(3d) 97; 129 D.L.R.(4th) 510; 43 C.R.(4th) 137; 25 O.R.(3d) 824, refd to. [para. 99].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1, sect. 2(b), sect. 7 [para. 10].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 298, sect. 299, sect. 300 [para. 10].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Australian Capital Territory Community Law Reform Committee, Defamation Report (1995), generally [para. 75].

Cameron, Jamie, The Past, Present and Future of Expressive Freedom Under the Charter (1997), 35 Osgoode Hall L.J. 1, generally [para. 116].

Carter-Ruck on Libel (5th Ed. 1992), chs. 27 and 29-33 [para. 51].

Gatley on Libel and Slander (9th Ed. 1998), p. 6 [para. 85].

Ireland, Law Reform Commission, Consul­tation Paper on the Crime of Libel (1991), p. 145 [para. 75].

Le Nouveau Petit Robert (1996) [para. 81].

Stephen, Sir James, A History of the Criminal Law in England (1883), vol. 2, pp. 358, 359 [para. 62].

Williams, Glanville, Criminal Law, The General Part (2nd Ed. 1961), p. 67 § 29 [para. 62].

Counsel:

Clayton C. Ruby and John Norris, for the appellants;

Graeme G. Mitchell, for the respondent;

Robert Frater, for the intervenor, the At­torney General of Canada;

M. David Lepofsky, for the intervenor, the Attorney General for Ontario;

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

John B. Laskin and Sarah L. MacKenzie, for the intervenor, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Solicitors of Record:

Ruby & Edwardh, Toronto, Ontario, for the appellants;

Graeme G. Mitchell, Regina, Saskatche­wan, for the respondent;

Robert Frater, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, the Attorney General of Canada;

M. David Lepofsky, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, the Attorney General for Ontario;

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

Tory Tory DesLauriers & Binnington, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervenor, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

This appeal was heard on October 15, 1997, before Lamer, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka*, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci, Major and Bastarache, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official lan­guages on April 2, 1998, including the following opinions:

Cory, J. (Lamer, C.J.C., Gonthier, Iacobucci and Bastarache, JJ., con­curring) - see paragraphs 1 to 110;

L'Heureux-Dubé, J. - see paragraph 111;

McLachlin, J., dissenting in part - see paragraphs 112 to 122;

Major, J., dissenting in part - see para­graphs 123 to 131.

* Sopinka, J., took no part in the judg­ment.

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47 practice notes
  • R. v. Sharpe (J.R.), (1999) 127 B.C.A.C. 76 (CA)
    • Canada
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    • June 30, 1999
    ...212 A.R. 237; 168 W.A.C. 237; 156 D.L.R.(4th) 385, refd to. [para. 140]. R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 439; 224 N.R. 161; 163 Sask.R. 161; 165 W.A.C. 161; 123 C.C.C.(3d) 97, refd to. [para. 149]. Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto and Manning, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 1130; 184 N.......
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    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court (Canada)
    • January 26, 2001
    ...114 N.S.R.(2d) 91; 313 A.P.R. 91; 74 C.C.C.(3d) 289, refd to. [para. 33]. R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 439; 224 N.R. 161; 163 Sask.R. 161; 165 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. R. v. Hurtubise, [1997] B.C.J. No. 40 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 51]. R. v. Dionne (1987), 79 N.B.R.(2d) 297;......
  • Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General), 183 OAC 1
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    ...Inc., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1038; 93 N.R. 183, refd to. [para. 215]. R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 439; 224 N.R. 161; 163 Sask.R. 161; 165 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. Sheena B., Re, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315; 176 N.R. 161; 78 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 225]. R.B. v. Children's Aid Society o......
  • Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General), 183 OAC 1
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    • January 30, 2004
    ...Inc., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1038; 93 N.R. 183, refd to. [para. 215]. R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 439; 224 N.R. 161; 163 Sask.R. 161; 165 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. Sheena B., Re, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315; 176 N.R. 161; 78 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 225]. R.B. v. Children's Aid Society o......
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45 cases
  • R. v. Sharpe (J.R.), (1999) 127 B.C.A.C. 76 (CA)
    • Canada
    • British Columbia Court of Appeal (British Columbia)
    • June 30, 1999
    ...212 A.R. 237; 168 W.A.C. 237; 156 D.L.R.(4th) 385, refd to. [para. 140]. R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 439; 224 N.R. 161; 163 Sask.R. 161; 165 W.A.C. 161; 123 C.C.C.(3d) 97, refd to. [para. 149]. Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto and Manning, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 1130; 184 N.......
  • R. v. Sharpe (J.R.), [2001] ACS no 3
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court (Canada)
    • January 26, 2001
    ...114 N.S.R.(2d) 91; 313 A.P.R. 91; 74 C.C.C.(3d) 289, refd to. [para. 33]. R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 439; 224 N.R. 161; 163 Sask.R. 161; 165 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. R. v. Hurtubise, [1997] B.C.J. No. 40 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 51]. R. v. Dionne (1987), 79 N.B.R.(2d) 297;......
  • Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General), 183 OAC 1
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    • January 30, 2004
    ...Inc., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1038; 93 N.R. 183, refd to. [para. 215]. R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 439; 224 N.R. 161; 163 Sask.R. 161; 165 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. Sheena B., Re, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315; 176 N.R. 161; 78 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 225]. R.B. v. Children's Aid Society o......
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    ...Inc., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1038; 93 N.R. 183, refd to. [para. 215]. R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 439; 224 N.R. 161; 163 Sask.R. 161; 165 W.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. Sheena B., Re, [1995] 1 S.C.R. 315; 176 N.R. 161; 78 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 225]. R.B. v. Children's Aid Society o......
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