R. v. City of Sault Ste. Marie, [1978] 2 SCR 1299

JudgeLaskin, C.J.C., Martland, Ritchie, Spence, Pigeon, Dickson, Beetz, Estey and Pratte, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateMay 01, 1978
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations[1978] 2 SCR 1299;(1978), 21 N.R. 295 (SCC);1978 CanLII 11 (SCC);85 DLR (3d) 161;3 CR (3d) 30;40 CCC (2d) 353;21 NR 295;7 CELR 53;[1978] CarswellOnt 24;AZ-78111157;EYB 1978-147041;[1978] SCJ No 59 (QL);[1978] ACS no 59;2 WCB 321

R. v. Sault Ste. Marie (1978), 21 N.R. 295 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

R. v. City of Sault Ste. Marie

Indexed As: R. v. City of Sault Ste. Marie

Supreme Court of Canada

Laskin, C.J.C., Martland, Ritchie, Spence, Pigeon, Dickson, Beetz, Estey and Pratte, JJ.

May 1, 1978.

Summary:

This case arose out of a charge against the City of Sault Ste. Marie of polluting a water course contrary to s. 32(1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act, R.S.O. 1970, c. 332. The City contracted out its garbage disposal. The land fill project used by the contractor in disposing of the garbage polluted a water course. The City was charged with polluting the water course. The City was acquitted in Provincial Court, but was convicted on the Crown's appeal by way of trial de novo. The City appealed to the Divisional Court, which quashed the conviction. On the Crown's appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal in a judgment reported 13 O.R.(2d) 113 directed a new trial. The Crown appealed and the City cross-appealed. The main issue was whether the charge of polluting a water course was one requiring proof of mens rea or was one of strict or absolute liability.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal and affirmed the order for a new trial.

The Supreme Court of Canada held that on the public welfare offence of pollution under s. 32(1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act the Crown need not prove mens rea on the part of the accused, but that the accused could raise a defence of reasonable care. See paragraphs 46 to 51.

The Supreme Court of Canada defined three categories of offences respecting the element of mens rea: firstly, offences in which mens rea must be proved; secondly, offences in which the Crown need not prove mens rea, but the accused may raise the defence of reasonable care; thirdly, offences strict or absolute liability, in which the defence of lack of fault is not available. See paragraphs 19 to 45.

Criminal Law - Topic 30

General principles - Mens rea or intention - Whether offence one of mens rea or strict liability - The Supreme Court of Canada defined three categories of offences respecting the element of mens rea or intention - Firstly, offences in which mens rea must be proved - Secondly, offences in which the Crown need not prove mens rea, but the accused may raise the defence of reasonable care - Thirdly, offences of strict or absolute liability, in which the defence of lack of fault is not available - See paragraphs 19 to 45.

Criminal Law - Topic 7280

Summary conviction proceedings - Informations - Duplicity - The accused was charged with discharging, causing to be discharged or permitting to be discharged pollution - The accused submitted that the charge was duplicitous - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that the test of duplicity was whether the accused knew the case he had to meet or whether he was prejudiced by ambiguity in the charge - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the charge against the accused was clearly one of pollution and the charge was not duplicitous - See paragraphs 10 to 18.

Pollution Control - Topic 26

General principles - Mens rea or intention - Modified strict liability - Section 32(1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act, R.S.O. 1970, c. 332, made it an offence for anyone to pollute a water course and provided a maximum fine of $5,000.00 for the first offence and a maximum fine of $10,000.00 or a maximum 1 year imprisonment or both for subsequent offences - The Supreme Court of Canada held that on such a public welfare offence the Crown need not prove mens rea on the part of accused, but that the accused could raise a defence of reasonable care - See paragraphs 46 to 51.

Words and Phrases

Permit - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of the word "permit" in the phrase "permit to be discharged, or deposited" pollution in s. 32(1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act, R.S.O. 1970, c. 332 - See paragraphs 48 to 51.

Cases Noticed:

Sherras v. De Rutzen, [1895] 1 Q.B. 918, refd to. [para. 1].

R. v. Prince (1975), L.R. 2 C.C.R. 154, refd to. [para. 2].

R. v. Tolson (1889), 23 Q.B.C. 168, refd to. [para. 2].

R. v. Rees, [1956] S.C.R. 640, refd to. [para. 2].

Beaver v. The Queen, [1957] S.C.R. 531, refd to. [para. 2].

R. v. King, [1962] S.C.R. 746, refd to. [para. 2].

Kipp v. Attorney-General for Ontario, [1965] S.C.R. 57, appld. [para. 10].

R. v. Surrey Justices, ex parte Witherick, [1932] 1 K.B. 450, appld. [para. 12].

R. v. Madill (No. 1) (1943), 79 C.C.C. 206, appld. [para. 12].

R. v. International Nickel Co. of Canada (1972), 10 C.C.C.(2d) 44, appld. [para. 12].

Kienapple v. The Queen, 1 N.R. 322, [1975] 1 S.C.R. 729, appld. [para. 14].

R. v. Matspeck Construction Co. Ltd., [1965] 2 O.R. 730, folld. [para. 17].

Ross Hillman, Limited v. Bond, [1974] 2 All E.R. 287, dist. [para. 17].

R. v. Woodrow (1846), 15 M. & W. 404, refd to. [para. 22].

R. v. Stephens (1866), L.R. 1 Q.B. 702, refd to. [para. 22].

Proudman v. Dayman (1941), 67 C.L.R. 536, folld. [para. 27].

R. v. Strawbridge, [1970] N.Z.L.R. 909, refd to. [para. 28].

R. v. Ewart, [1906] N.Z.L.R. 709, refd to. [para. 28].

Sweet v. Parsley, [1970] A.C. 132, consd. [para. 29].

Woolmington v. Director of Public Prosecutions, [1935] A.C. 462, dist. [para. 29].

R. v. McIver, [1965] 2 O.R. 475, affd. [1966] S.C.R. 254, folld. [para. 30].

Maher v. Musson (1934), 52 C.L.R. 100, folld. [para. 30].

R. v. Patterson, [1962] 1 All E.R. 340, folld. [para. 30].

R. v. Custeau, [1972] 2 O.R. 250, folld. [para. 31].

R. v. Laroque (1958), 120 C.C.C. 246, folld. [para. 32].

R. v. Regina Cold Storage & Forwarding Co. (1923), 41 C.C.C. 21, consd. [para. 33].

R. v. A. O. Pope (1972), 5 N.B.R.(2d) 715; 10 C.C.C.(2d) 430, affirming 5 N.B.R.(2d) 719; 20 C.R.N.S. 159, folld. [para. 34].

R. v. Hickey (1976), 29 C.C.C.(2d) 23, revd. 30 C.C.C.(2d) 416, dist. [para. 35].

R. v. Servico Limited (1977), 4 A.R. 18; 2 Alta. L.R.(2d) 388, folld. [para. 36].

R. v. Industrial Tankers Ltd., [1968] 4 C.C.C. 81, folld. [para. 37].

R. v. Hawinda Taverns Ltd. (1955), 112 C.C.C. 361, folld. [para. 37].

R. v. Bruin Hotel Co. Ltd. (1954), 109 C.C.C. 174, folld. [para. 37].

R. v. Sheridan (1972), 10 C.C.C.(2d) 545, refd to. [para. 37].

R. v. Cherokee Disposals & Construction Limited, [1973] 3 O.R. 599, refd to. [para. 37].

R. v. Liquid Cargo Lines Ltd. (1974), 18 C.C.C.(2d) 428, refd to. [para. 37].

R. v. North Canadian Enterprises Ltd. (1974), 20 C.C.C.(2d) 242, refd to. [para. 37].

Lim Chin Aik v. The Queen, [1963] A.C. 160, refd to. [para. 38].

Reynolds v. Austin & Sons Limited, [1951] 2 K.B. 135, refd to. [para. 38].

R. v. Pierce Fisheries Ltd. (1970), 3 N.S.R. 1965-69 1; [1971] S.C.R. 5, consd. [para. 39].

R. v. Pee-Kay Smallwares Ltd. (1947), 90 C.C.C. 129, consd. [para. 39].

Hill v. The Queen (1973), 1 N.R. 136; [1975] 2 S.C.R. 402, consd. [para. 40].

R. v. Gillis (1974), 18 C.C.C.(2d) 190, consd. [para. 40].

Goat v. City of Edmonton, [1928] S.C.R. 522, refd to. [para. 46].

Chasemore v. Richards (1859), 7 H.L.C. 349, refd to. [para. 46].

Millar v. The Queen, [1954] 1 D.L.R. 148, consd. [para. 48].

R. v. Royal Canadian Legion, [1971] 3 O.R. 552, consd. [para. 48].

R. v. Temperman and Sons, [1968] 4 C.C.C 67, consd. [para. 48].

R. v. Jack Crewe Ltd. (1975), 23 C.C.C.(2d) 237, consd. [para. 48].

Browning v. J. H. Watson Ltd., [1953] 1 W.L.R. 1172, consd. [para. 48].

Lyons v. May, [1948] 2 All E.R. 1062, consd. [para. 48].

Korten v. West Sussex C.C. (1903), 72 L.J.K.B. 514, consd. [para. 48].

James & Son Ltd. v. Smee, [1955] 1 Q.B. 78, consd. [para. 48].

Somerset v. Hart (1884), 12 Q.B.C. 360, consd. [para. 48].

Grays Haulage Co. Ltd. v. Arnold, [1966] 1 All E.R. 896, consd. [para. 48].

R. v. Peconi (1907), 1 C.C.C.(2d) 213, consd. [para. 48].

Alphacell Limited v. Woodward, [1972] A.C. 824, consd. [para. 48].

Sopp v. Long, [1969] 1 All E.R. 855, consd. [para. 48].

Laird v. Dobell, [1906] 1 K.B. 131, consd. [para. 48].

Shave v. Rosner, [1954] 2 W.L.R. 1057, consd. [para. 48].

Lovelace v. D.P.P., [1954] 3 All E.R. 481, not folld. [para. 48].

Tesco Supermarkets v. Nattras, [1972] A.C. 153, refd to. [para. 56].

Statutes Noticed:

Criminal Code of Canada, R.S.C. 1970, c. C-34, sect. 724(1), sect. 731(a) [para. 11].

Highway Traffic Act, R.S.A. 1970, c. 169, sect. 198 [para. 24].

Highway Traffic Act, R.S.M. 1970, c. H-60, sect. 230(2) [para. 24].

Municipal Act, R.S.O. 1970, c. 284, sect. 354(1), clause (76) [para. 53].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Blackstone, Commentaries, vol. 4, p. 21 [para. 2].

Edwards, Mens Rea and Statutory Offences (1951), pp. 98-119 [para. 48].

Halsbury's Laws of England (4th Ed.), vol. 2, para. 18 [para. 25].

Hall, Principles of Criminal Law (1947), c. 13 [para. 25].

Howard, Strict Responsibility in The High Court of Australia, 76 L.Q.R. 547 [para. 26].

Jobson, Far From Clear, 18 Crim. L.Q. 294 [paras. 25 and 37].

Morris and Howard, Studies in Criminal Law (1964), p. 200 [para. 26].

Perkins, The Civil Offence (1952), 100 U. of Pa. L. Rev. 832 [para. 25].

Pound, Roscoe, The Spirit of the Common Law (1906) [para. 38].

Sayre, Public Welfare Offences (1933), 33 Colum. L. Rev. 55 [paras. 25 and 26].

Smith and Hogan, Criminal Law (3rd Ed.), pp. 87, 89-90 [para. 48].

Williams, Glanville, Criminal Law (2nd Ed.), p. 262 [para. 26].

Counsel:

R.M. McLeod and J. Neil Mulvaney, Q.C., for the Crown appellant;

R.J. Rolls, Q.C. and Robert S. Harrison, for the respondent.

This case was heard on October 13 and 14, 1977, at Ottawa, Ontario, before LASKIN, C.J.C., MARTLAND, RITCHIE, SPENCE, PIGEON, DICKSON, BEETZ, ESTEY and PRATTE, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On May 1, 1978, DICKSON, J., delivered the following judgment for the Supreme Court of Canada:

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1317 practice notes
  • R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., 123 CCC (3d) 97
    • Canada
    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court (Canada)
    • April 2, 1998
    ...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. R. v. Vaillancourt, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 636; ......
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    ...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. R. v. Vaillancourt, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 636; ......
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    ...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. 63]. 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. R. v. Wholesale Travel Group Inc. and ......
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    ...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. 63]. 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. R. v. Wholesale Travel Group Inc. and ......
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1116 cases
  • R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., 123 CCC (3d) 97
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    • Canada (Federal) Supreme Court (Canada)
    • April 2, 1998
    ...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. R. v. Vaillancourt, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 636; ......
  • R. v. Lucas (J.D.) et al., (1998) 163 Sask.R. 161 (SCC)
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    • April 2, 1998
    ...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. R. v. Vaillancourt, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 636; ......
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    ...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. 63]. 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. R. v. Wholesale Travel Group Inc. and ......
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17 firm's commentaries
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    ...offences often have a moral dimension, and this can vary according to the categories of offences identified in R v Sault Ste Marie, [1978] 2 SCR 1299. The Court of Appeal said that relevance of moral blameworthiness in sentencing for regulatory offences follows necessarily from the applicat......
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    ...28. Ontario Cannabis Control Act, supra note 2, s 23(1). 29. Ibid, s 23(4). 30. Ibid s 23(3). 31. See generally R. v. Sault Ste. Marie (1978), 2 SCR 1299. Deepshikha DuttMatthew Bradley function JDS_Loa...
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    ...SCR 486, 24 DLR (4th) 536, [1985] SCJ No 73 ........................................................... 115 Sault Ste Marie (City of), [1978] 2 SCR 1299, 85 DLR (3d) 161, 1978 CanLII 11 ............................................................................................ 240 Schreibe......
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