R. v. Ruzic (M.), 2001 SCC 24

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binne, Arbour and LeBel, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateJune 13, 2000
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations2001 SCC 24;(2001), 268 N.R. 1 (SCC);49 WCB (2d) 209;145 OAC 235;JE 2001-867;197 DLR (4th) 577;153 CCC (3d) 1;[2001] 1 SCR 687;82 CRR (2d) 1;[2001] SCJ No 25 (QL);41 CR (5th) 1;268 NR 1;[2001] CarswellOnt 1238

R. v. Ruzic (M.) (2001), 268 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: [2001] N.R. TBEd. AP.033

Her Majesty The Queen (appellant) v. Marijana Ruzic (respondent) and the Attorney General for Ontario, the Canadian Council of Churches and the Canadian Council for refugees (interveners)

(26930; 2001 SCC 24)

Indexed As: R. v. Ruzic (M.)

Supreme Court of Canada

McLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binne, Arbour and LeBel, JJ.

April 20, 2001.

Summary:

The accused was charged with unlawful­ly importing 2 kilograms of heroin into Canada contrary to s. 5(1) of the Narcotic Control Act, and of possession and use of a false passport contrary to s. 368 of the Cri­minal Code. The accused admitted import­ing the heroin and using a false passport but claimed that she had done so under duress. She said that a man had threatened to harm or kill her mother in Serbia unless she brought the heroin to Canada. She also said that the Serbian police could not protect her mother. Her claim of duress did not meet the "im­mediacy" or "presence" requirements of s. 17 of the Criminal Code. Therefore, dur­ing her trial she asked for a declaration that s. 17 of the Code violated s. 7 of the Charter and was of no force or effect. The trial judge ruled that s. 17 of the Code violated s. 7 of the Charter and was not saved by s. 1. The trial judge therefore declined to charge the jury on the statutory defence. Instead he charged the jury on the common law defence of duress. The jury acquitted the accused on both charges. The Crown appealed the ac­quittal on the charge of importing heroin. The Crown submitted that the trial judge erred in ruling that s. 17 was unconstitu­tional and in removing the statutory defence of duress from the jury. In the alternative, the Crown argued that the trial judge misdi­rected the jury on the elements of the com­mon law defence of duress.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a decision reported 112 O.A.C. 201, agreed that s. 17 of the Criminal Code violated s. 7 of the Charter and was not saved by s. 1. The court declared s. 17 to be of no force or effect to the extent that it prevented an accused from relying on the common law defence of duress preserved by s. 8(3) of the Code. Further, the court held that there was no error in the trial judge's charge to the jury on the common law defence of duress. Accord­ingly, the court dismissed the Crown's appeal. The Crown appealed. The following constitu­tional questions were posed:

"1. Do the requirements in s. 17 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, that a threat must be of immediate death or bodily harm and from a person who is present when the offence is committed infringe the rights of an accused person as guaranteed by s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

"2. If the answer to Question 1 is yes, is the said infringement of the s. 7 rights a reasonable limit that can be demonstrably justified under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

"3. Does s. 17 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, infringe the rights of an accused person as guaranteed by s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Free­doms by precluding access to the defence of duress where the threat is to a third party?

"4. If the answer to Question 3 is yes, is the said infringement of the s. 7 rights a reasonable limit that can be demonstrably justified under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?"

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal and affirmed the acquittal. The court answered the questions as follows:

1. Yes.

2. No.

3. No. Section 17 of the Criminal Code did not preclude access to the defence on the basis that the threat was directed to a third party.

4. No answer was necessary.

Civil Rights - Topic 3157.3

Trials - Due process, fundamental justice and fair hearings - Criminal and quasi-criminal proceedings - Procedure contrary to fundamental justice - [See Civil Rights - Topic 3165.4 and first Civil Rights - Topic 3165.8 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 3165.4

Trials - Due process, fundamental justice and fair hearings - Criminal and quasi-criminal proceedings - Defences (incl. denial of) - The statutory defence of dur­ess (Criminal Code, s. 17) was available only where the person acted on threats of imme­diate death or bodily harm from a person who was present when the offence was committed - Further, the defence was inapplicable to several of­fences - The Supreme Court of Canada held that by the strictness of the immediacy and presence conditions, s. 17 breached s. 7 of the Charter because it allowed individuals who acted involuntarily to be declared crimi­nally liable - The infringement could not be justified under s. 1 of the Charter - The court struck down the immediacy and presence requirements in s. 17.

Civil Rights - Topic 3165.8

Trials - Due process, fundamental justice and fair hearings - Criminal and quasi-criminal proceedings - Moral in­volun­tari­ness - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "although moral involuntariness does not negate the actus reus or mens rea of an offence, it is a principle which, similarly to physical involuntariness, de­serves protection under s. 7 of the Charter. It is a principle of fundamental justice that only voluntary conduct -- behaviour that is the product of a free will and controlled body, unhin­dered by exter­nal constraints -- should attract the penalty and stigma of criminal liability. Depriving a person of liberty and branding her with the stigma of criminal liability would infringe the prin­ciples of fundamen­tal justice if the accused did not have any realistic choice. The ensuing deprivation of liberty and stigma would have been imposed in violation of the tenets of funda­mental justice and would thus infringe s. 7 of the Charter." - See paragraph 47.

Civil Rights - Topic 3165.8

Trials - Due process, fundamental justice and fair hearings - Criminal and quasi-criminal proceedings - Moral involuntariness - [See Civil Rights - Topic 3165.4 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8304

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application of - General - [See Civil Rights - Topic 8318.1 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8318.1

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Statutory defences - The Crown argued that statutory defences were owed special deference by reviewing courts (i.e., that the court should take a signifi­cantly more restrained approach to review­ing the constitutionality of statutory de­fences) - The Supreme Court of Canada emphasized that a statutory defence was not immune from Charter scrutiny - The court stated that "the issue of deference to the legislature's policy choices is ordinarily considered at the s. 1 stage of a Charter analysis. Yet, even at the infringement stage of the inquiry, the legislature is acknowledged some latitude in its work. This is reflected, for example, in the inter­pretive presumption of constitutionality. This principle is based on the notion that Parliament intends to adopt legislation that is consistent with the Charter ... If a statu­tory provision is capable of an interpreta­tion that is constitutional and one that is not, then the courts should choose the construction that conforms with the Char­ter ... There is no support in the case law, however, for the 'irrational or arbitrary' threshold advocated by the appellant. I would accordingly reject it." - See para­graph 26.

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limits prescribed by law (Charter, s. 1) - [See second Criminal Law - Topic 202 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8380.2

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Remedies - Declar­ation of statute invalidity - [See second Crimi­nal Law - Topic 202 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8380.18

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Remedies - Reading down - [See second Criminal Law - Topic 202 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 8547

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Interpretation - Particular words and phrases - Principles of fundamental justice - [See Civil Rights - Topic 3165.4 and first Civil Rights - Topic 3165.8 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 202

General principles - Common law de­fences - Duress - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the common law defence of duress - See paragraphs 56 to 86 - The court stated, inter alia, that "this review of the common law defence of duress con­firms that, although the common law is not unanimous in the United States, a substan­tial consensus has grown in Canada, Eng­land and Australia to the effect that the strict criterion of immediacy is no longer a generally accepted component of the defence. A requirement that the threat be 'imminent' has been interpreted and ap­plied in a more flexible manner ..." - See para­graph 86.

Criminal Law - Topic 202

General principles - Common law de­fences - Duress - The accused was charged with unlaw­fully importing heroin - She claimed to have done so under duress - Her claim of duress did not meet the "immediacy" or "presence" require­ments of s. 17 of the Criminal Code - The accused argued that s. 17 violated s. 7 of the Charter - The trial judge agreed and therefore declined to charge the jury on the statutory defence but charged the jury on the common law defence of duress - The accused was acquitted - An appeal was dismissed - The Crown appealed again - The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal - The court held that s. 17 viol­ated s. 7 of the Charter and was not saved by s. 1 - The court struck down the im­mediacy and presence requirements of s. 17 - Further, the court held that there was no error in the trial judge's charge to the jury on the common law defence of duress.

Criminal Law - Topic 226

General principles - Statutory defences or exceptions - Compulsion (duress) - [See second Criminal Law - Topic 202 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 226

General principles - Statutory defences or exceptions - Compulsion (duress) - The statutory defence of duress (Criminal Code, s. 17) was available only where the person acted on threats of immediate death or bodily harm from a person who was present when the offence was committed - Further, the defence was inapplicable to several of­fences - An issue arose as to whether s. 17 infringed s. 7 of the Charter by precluding access to the defence of duress where the threatened harm was directed not at the accused, but at a third party - The Supreme Court of Canada held that s. 17 did not preclude access to the defence on the basis that the threat was directed to a third party - Neither the words of s. 17 nor the case law dictated that the target of the threatened harm must be the accused, rather they simply required that the threat must be made to the accused - See paragraphs 54, 103.

Criminal Law - Topic 4357

Procedure - Jury charge - Directions re­garding defences and theory of the defence - Duress - [See second Criminal Law - Topic 202 ].

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Parris (1992), 11 C.R.R.(2d) 376 (Ont. Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 10].

R. v. Langlois (S.), [1993] R.J.Q. 675; 54 Q.A.C. 87; 80 C.C.C.(3d) 28 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 10].

Reference Re Section 94(2) of the Motor Vehicle Act, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 486; 63 N.R. 266; 23 C.C.C.(3d) 289, refd to. [para. 11].

Vriend et al. v. Alberta, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 493; 224 N.R. 1; 212 A.R. 237; 168 W.A.C. 237, refd to. [para. 21].

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, refd to. [para. 22].

R. v. Wholesale Travel Group Inc. and Chedore, [1991] 3 S.C.R. 154; 130 N.R. 1; 49 O.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 22].

R. v. Finta, [1994] 1 S.C.R. 701; 165 N.R. 1; 70 O.A.C. 241; 88 C.C.C.(3d) 417; 112 D.L.R.(4th) 513, refd to. [para. 23].

R. v. Penno, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 865; 115 N.R. 249; 42 O.A.C. 271, refd to. [para. 23].

Davidson v. Slaight Communications Inc., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1038; 93 N.R. 183, refd to. [para. 26].

R. v. Mills (B.J.), [1999] 3 S.C.R. 668; 248 N.R. 101; 244 A.R. 201; 209 W.A.C. 201, refd to. [para. 26].

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. 26].

R. v. Seaboyer and Gayme, [1991] 2 S.C.R. 577; 128 N.R. 81; 48 O.A.C. 81; 66 C.C.C.(3d) 321, refd to. [para. 28].

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. 28].

R. v. Perka, Nelson, Hines and Johnson, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 232; 55 N.R. 1; 14 C.C.C.(3d) 385; 13 D.L.R.(4th) 1, refd to. [para. 29].

R. v. Hibbert (L.), [1995] 2 S.C.R. 973; 184 N.R. 165; 84 O.A.C. 161; 99 C.C.C.(3d) 193, refd to. [para. 30].

R. v. Bergstrom, [1981] 1 S.C.R. 539; 36 N.R. 451; 9 Man.R.(2d) 1, refd to. [para. 30].

R. v. Daviault (H.), [1994] 3 S.C.R. 63; 173 N.R. 1; 64 Q.A.C. 81; 93 C.C.C.(3d) 321, refd to. [para. 34].

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, refd to. [para. 35].

R. v. Bernard, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 833; 90 N.R. 321; 32 O.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 37].

R. v. Martineau, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 633; 112 N.R. 83; 109 A.R. 321; 58 C.C.C.(3d) 353; [1990] 6 W.W.R. 97, refd to. [para. 37].

R. v. DeSousa, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 944; 142 N.R. 1; 56 O.A.C. 109; 76 C.C.C.(3d) 124, refd to. [para. 37].

R. v. Chaulk and Morrissette, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 1303; 119 N.R. 161; 69 Man.R.(2d) 161; [1992] 2 W.W.R. 385, refd to. [para. 39].

R. v. Rabey, [1980] 2 S.C.R. 513; 32 N.R. 451; 54 C.C.C.(2d) 1, refd to. [para. 43].

R. v. Parks, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 871; 140 N.R. 161; 55 O.A.C. 241; 75 C.C.C.(3d) 287, refd to. [para. 43].

R. v. Stone (B.T.), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 290; 239 N.R. 201; 123 B.C.A.C. 1; 201 W.A.C. 1; 134 C.C.C.(3d) 353, refd to. [para. 43].

R. v. Carker (No. 2), [1967] S.C.R. 114, refd to. [para. 51].

R. v. Paquette, [1977] 2 S.C.R. 189; 11 N.R. 451, refd to. [para. 51].

R. v. Latimer (R.W.) (2000), 264 N.R. 99; 203 Sask.R. 1; 240 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 59].

R. v. Martin, [1989] 1 All E.R. 652 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 68].

R. v. Abdul-Hussain, [1998] E.W.J. No. 4138 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 68].

A (Children), Re - see Siamese Twins Decision, Re.

Siamese Twins Decision, Re, [2000] E.W.J. No. 4875 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 68].

R. v. Howe, [1987] 1 All E.R. 771 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 69].

R. v. Gotts, [1992] 1 All E.R. 832; 144 N.R. 367 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 69].

Lynch v. Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, [1975] 1 All E.R. 913 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 69].

R. v. Lewis (1992), 96 Cr. App. R. 412, refd to. [para. 70].

R. v. Heath, [1999] E.W.J. No. 5092, refd to. [para. 70].

R. v. Graham, [1982] 1 All E.R. 801 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 71].

R. v. Hudson and Taylor, [1971] 2 Q.B. 202 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 72].

R. v. Hurley and Murray, [1967] V.R. 526 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 75].

R. v. McCafferty, [1974] 1 N.S.W.L.R. 89 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 75].

R. v. Dawson, [1978] V.R. 536 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 75].

R. v. Abusafiah (1991), 24 N.S.W.L.R. 531 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 76].

R. v. Palazoff (1986), 43 S.A.S.R. 99 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 76].

R. v. Lawrence, [1980] 1 N.S.W.L.R. 122 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 77].

R. v. Brown (1986), 43 S.A.S.R. 33 (Aust. S.C.), refd to. [para. 79].

R. v. Williamson, [1972] 2 N.S.W.L.R. 281 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 79].

Osborne v. Goddard (1978), 21 A.L.R. 189 (Aust. S.C.), refd to. [para. 80].

United States v. Jennell (1984), 749 F.2d 1302, p. 1305 [para. 81].

United States v. Contento-Pachon (1984), 723 F.2d 69 (9th Cir.), refd to. [para. 81].

United States v. Marenghi (1995), 893 F. Supp. 85 (D. Mc.), refd to. [para. 81].

Esquibel v. State (1978), 576 P.2d 1129 (N.M.), refd to. [para. 82].

People v. Harmon (1975), 232 N.W.2d 187, refd to. [para. 82].

State v. Toscano (1977), 378 A.2d 755 (N.J.), refd to. [para. 82].

Rhode Island Recreation Center v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co. (1949), 177 F.2d 603 (1st Cir.), refd to. [para. 84].

New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. J.G. and D.V., [1999] 3 S.C.R. 46; 244 N.R. 276; 216 N.B.R.(2d) 25; 552 A.P.R. 25, refd to. [para. 92].

R. v. Heywood (R.L.), [1994] 3 S.C.R. 761; 174 N.R. 81; 50 B.C.A.C. 161; 82 W.A.C. 161; 120 D.L.R.(4th) 348, refd to. [para. 92].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1, sect. 7 [para. 8].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 8(3), sect. 17 [para. 8].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Côté-Harper, Gisèle, Rainville, Pierre, et Turgeon, Jean, Traité de droit pénal canadien (4th Ed. 1998), p. 357 ff [para. 34].

Côté, Pierre-André, The Interpretation of Legislation in Canada (3rd Ed. 1999), pp. 365 to 373 [para. 26].

Driedger, Elmer A., Construction of Statutes (3rd Ed. 1994), pp. 322 to 327 [para. 26].

Ferguson, G., A Critique of Proposals to Reform the Insanity Defence (1989), 14 Queen's L.J. 135, p. 140 [para. 45].

Findlay, Mark, Odgers, Stephen and Yeo, Stanley, Australian Criminal Justice (2nd Ed. 1999), pp. 7, 8 [para. 74].

Fletcher, George P., Rethinking Criminal Law (1978), generally [para. 29]; pp. 798 [para. 40]; 803 [para. 44]; 805 [para. 45].

Gillies, Peter, Criminal Law (4th Ed. 1997), pp. 341 [para. 74]; 356 [para. 78].

Hall, Jerome, General Principles of Criminal Law (2nd Ed. 1960), p. 447 [para. 81].

Klimchuk, Dennis, Moral Innocence, Normative Involuntariness, and Fundamental Justice (1998), 18 C.R.(5th) 96, pp. 102, 104 [para. 46].

LaFave, Wayne R., and Scott, Austin W., Substantive Criminal Law (1986), vol. 1, pp. 618, 619 [para. 81].

O'Connor, D., and Fairall, P.A., Criminal Defences (3rd Ed. 1996), pp. 154, 155, 160 [para. 77]; 162, 163 [para. 78].

Parent, Hughes, Histoire de l'acte volontaire en droit pénal anglais et canadien (2000), 45 McGill L.J. 975, p. 1013 ff [para. 34].

Parent, Hughes, Responsabilité pénale et troubles mentaux, Histoire de la folie en droit pénal français, anglais et canadien (1999), p. 271 [para. 34].

Shaffer, Martha, Scrutinizing Duress: The Constitutional Validity of Section 17 of the Criminal Code (1998), 40 Crim. L.Q. 444, generally [para. 38].

Smith, John C., Smith & Hogan: Criminal Law (9th Ed. 1999), p. 242 [paras. 68, 71].

Sullivan, Ruth, Driedger on the Construction on Statutes (3rd Ed. 1994), pp. 322 to 327 [para. 26].

Counsel:

Croft Michaelson and Morris Pistyner, for the appellant;

Frank Addario and Leslie Pringle, for the respondent;

Gary T. Trotter and John McInnes, for the intervener, the Attorney General for Ontario;

Marlys Edwardh and Jill Copeland, for the interveners the Canadian Council of Churches and the Canadian Council for Refugees.

Solicitors of Record:

Attorney General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, for the appellant;

Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, Toronto; Skurka & Pringle, Toronto, Ontario, for the respondent; Ministry of the Attorney General, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervener, the Attorney General for Ontario;

Ruby & Edwardh, Toronto, Ontario, for the interveners the Canadian Council of Churches and the Canadian Council for Refugees.

This appeal was heard on June 13, 2000, before McLachlin, C.J.C., L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie, Arbour and LeBel, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada, was delivered in both official languages on April 20, 2001, by LeBel, J.

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