R. v. Steele (J.M.), (2014) 463 N.R. 125 (SCC)

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Moldaver, Karakatsanis and Wagner, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateApril 17, 2014
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(2014), 463 N.R. 125 (SCC);2014 SCC 61

R. v. Steele (J.M.) (2014), 463 N.R. 125 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

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Temp. Cite: [2014] N.R. TBEd. OC.015

Her Majesty the Queen (appellant) v. John Melville Steele (respondent) and Attorney General of Canada and Attorney General of Ontario (interveners)

(35364; 2014 SCC 61; 2014 CSC 61)

Indexed As: R. v. Steele (J.M.)

Supreme Court of Canada

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

October 9, 2014.

Summary:

The accused was convicted of robbery. The Crown applied for remand of the accused for an assessment under s. 752.1 of the Criminal Code to be used as evidence in support of an application by the Crown to have the accused declared a dangerous or long-term offender.

The Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, in a decision reported at 267 Man.R.(2d) 91, dismissed the application for remand, holding that while the character of the threat of violence was sufficient to ground a s. 343(a) robbery conviction, it did not amount to "the use or attempted use of violence" such as to constitute a "serious personal injury offence" within the meaning of s. 752(1)(a) and thereby trigger a dangerous or long-term offender assessment. The Crown appealed.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal, in a decision reported (2013), 288 Man.R.(2d) 304; 564 W.A.C. 304, dismissed the appeal. The Crown appealed again.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal. The accused was convicted under s. 343(a) of robbery, an offence that satisfied the criterion set out in subparagraph (a)(i) of the definition of a "serious personal injury offence" in s. 752. Since the other requirements for the Crown's application for remand for an assessment were not contested, the court granted the application and ordered that the accused be remanded for assessment pursuant to s. 752.1(1).

Criminal Law - Topic 6501

Dangerous or long-term offenders - General - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the general purpose of the dangerous and long term offender provisions in Part XXIV of the Criminal Code - See paragraphs 28 to 32.

Criminal Law - Topic 6560

Dangerous or long-term offenders - Detention - Protection of the public - Personal injury offences - The accused was convicted of robbery under s. 343(a) of the Criminal Code on that basis that he had used threats of violence to a person - During a brief drug store robbery he threatened the cashiers by saying "I have a gun" - No weapon was seen and no injuries were sustained - The Crown, viewing this as a "serious personal injury offence" (SPIO) as defined by s. 752(a)(i) of the Criminal Code, applied to remand the accused for an assessment under s. 752.1(1) to support a dangerous or long-term application - At issue was whether the s. 343(a) offence, which involved threats of violence to a person, but no physical force, met the requirement in s. 752(a)(i) of the Code that an SPIO involve "the use of violence against another person" - The Supreme Court of Canada held that a threat of violence that sufficed to ground a conviction for robbery under s. 343(a) constituted the use of violence against another person within the meaning of subparagraph (a)(i) of the definition of an SPIO set out in s. 752 - By threatening to harm his victims while committing robbery, the accused used violence against them within the meaning of s. 752(a)(i) - Since the other requirements of the definition were clearly met, his offence qualified as a SPIO - See paragraphs 1 to 6 and 22 to 72.

Criminal Law - Topic 6560

Dangerous or long-term offenders - Detention - Protection of the public - Personal injury offences - The Criminal Code, s. 752.1(1), allowed the Crown to apply for a remand for an assessment for a dangerous or long-term offender application of a person convicted of a "serious personal injury offence" - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the specific purpose of the "serious personal injury offence" requirement in the dangerous and long-term offender scheme in the Criminal Code - See paragraphs 32 to 37.

Criminal Law - Topic 6560

Dangerous or long-term offenders - Detention - Protection of the public - Personal injury offences - The Criminal Code, s. 752.1(1), allowed the Crown to apply for a remand for an assessment for a dangerous or long-term offender application of a person convicted of a "serious personal injury offence" (SPIO) - SPIOs included indictable offences involving the "use or attempted use of violence against another person" (s. 752(a)(i)) - The Supreme Court of Canada interpreted s. 752(a)(i) - The court held that the words "use or attempted use of violence" did not include a requirement of objective seriousness - Subparagraph (a)(i) did not invite the court to assess the seriousness of the violence the offender used or attempted to use; any level of violence was sufficient - There was no qualitative minimum level of violence - See paragraphs 38 to 41.

Criminal Law - Topic 6560

Dangerous or long-term offenders - Detention - Protection of the public - Personal injury offences - The Criminal Code, s. 752.1(1), allowed the Crown to apply for a remand for an assessment for a dangerous or long-term offender application of a person convicted of a "serious personal injury offence" (SPIO) - SPIOs included indictable offences involving the "use or attempted use of violence against another person" (s. 752(a)(i)) - The Supreme Court of Canada interpreted s. 752(a)(i) and in particular what constituted "violence" within the meaning of the Criminal Code - The court explained that a conflict existed between "harm-based" definitions of violence that focussed on acts by which a person caused, attempted to cause or threatened to cause harm, and "force-based" definitions that focussed on the physical nature of the act - The court concluded that unless the context or the purpose of the statute suggested a different approach, the prevailing definition of "violence" was a harm-based one that encompassed acts by which a person caused, attempted to cause or threatened to cause harm - See paragraphs 42 to 51.

Criminal Law - Topic 6560

Dangerous or long-term offenders - Detention - Protection of the public - Personal injury offences - The Criminal Code, s. 752.1(1), allowed the Crown to apply for a remand for an assessment for a dangerous or long-term offender application of a person convicted of a "serious personal injury offence" (SPIO) - SPIOs included indictable offences involving the "use or attempted use of violence against another person" (s. 752(a)(i)) - The Supreme Court of Canada interpreted s. 752(a)(i) and in particular what constituted "violence" - The court held that a harm-based approach to subparagraph (a)(i) according to which threatening violence constituted a form of use of violence was not inconsistent with the endangerment and psychological damage aspects of the definition in subparagraph (a)(ii) (i.e., the statutory context supported a harm-based definition that encompassed threats of violence) - See paragraphs 52 to 60.

Criminal Law - Topic 6560

Dangerous or long-term offenders - Detention - Protection of the public - Personal injury offences - The Criminal Code, s. 752.1(1), allowed the Crown to apply for a remand for an assessment for a dangerous or long-term offender application of a person convicted of a "serious personal injury offence" (SPIO) - SPIOs included indictable offences involving the "use or attempted use of violence against another person" (s. 752(a)(i)) - The Supreme Court of Canada held that robbery committed by using threats of violence to a person was a "serious personal injury offence" - The court noted that not all robberies were SPIOs - Robbery committed using violence or a threat of violence to property was excluded - Robbery committed by using violence to a person was included - The court stated that "All threats of violence are themselves violent, even though the seriousness of the violence may be quite limited. In seeking to distinguish violent from non-violent threats, courts are in effect reading in an objective minimum level of violence. This is inconsistent with the clear language of subparagraph (a)(i) of the definition, which requires violence, not serious violence, and it risks undermining the overall purpose of Part XXIV by precluding courts from remanding potentially dangerous offenders for assessment" - See paragraphs 67 to 70.

Words and Phrases

Attempted use of violence - The Supreme Court of Canada considered the meaning of the phrase "attempted use of violence" as used in the definition of "serious personal injury offence" in s. 752(a)(i) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - See paragraphs 63 to 66.

Words and Phrases

Serious personal injury offence - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of this phrase as it was used in s. 752 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - See paragraphs 7 to 66.

Words and Phrases

Use or attempted use of violence - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed them meaning of this phrase as it was used in s. 752(a)(i) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - See paragraphs 38 to 41.

Words and Phrases

Uses ... threats of violence - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of this phrase as it was used in s. 343(a) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - See paragraphs 63 to 66.

Words and Phrases

Violence - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of the term "violence" in the context of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 - See paragraphs 42 to 66.

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Neve (L.C.) (1999), 237 A.R. 201; 197 W.A.C. 201; 137 C.C.C.(3d) 97; 71 Alta. L.R.(3d) 92; 1999 ABCA 206, refd to. [para. 14].

R. v. Goforth (E.R.) (2005), 257 Sask.R. 123; 342 W.A.C. 123; 2005 SKCA 12, refd to. [para. 14].

R. v. Lebar (S.M.) (2010), 260 O.A.C. 169; 252 C.C.C.(3d) 411; 101 O.R.(3d) 263; 2010 ONCA 220, refd to. [para. 14].

R. v. Thompson, 2009 ONCJ 359, refd to. [para. 15].

R. v. Roy (D.W.) (2008), 307 Sask.R. 276; 417 W.A.C. 276; 2008 SKCA 41, refd to. [para. 15].

R. v. Jolicoeur (R.) (2011), 265 Man.R.(2d) 225; 2011 MBQB 129, refd to. [para. 15].

R. v. C.D., [2005] 3 S.C.R. 668; 343 N.R. 1; 376 A.R. 258; 360 W.A.C. 258; 203 C.C.C.(3d) 449, 2005 SCC 78, refd to. [para. 16].

R. v. Currie (R.O.R.), [1997] 2 S.C.R. 260; 211 N.R. 321; 100 O.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 22].

R. v. Cepic (D.), [2010] O.T.C. Uned. 561; 93 M.V.R.(5th) 129; 2010 ONSC 561, refd to. [para. 22].

R. v. Hatchwell, [1976] 1 S.C.R. 39; 3 N.R. 571; 21 C.C.C.(2d) 210, refd to. [para. 29].

R. v. Lyons, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 309; 80 N.R. 161; 82 N.S.R.(2d) 271; 207 A.P.R. 271; 37 C.C.C.(3d) 1, refd to. [para. 29].

R. v. Sipos (J.P.) (2014), 460 N.R. 1; 320 O.A.C. 76; 2014 SCC 47, refd to. [para. 29].

R. v. Ipeelee (M.), [2012] 1 S.C.R. 433; 428 N.R. 1; 288 O.A.C. 224; 318 B.C.A.C. 1; 541 W.A.C. 1; 2012 SCC 13, refd to. [para. 30].

R. v. Johnson (J.J.), [2003] 2 S.C.R. 357; 308 N.R. 333; 186 B.C.A.C. 161; 306 W.A.C. 161; 2003 SCC 46, refd to. [para. 31].

R. v. Smith (R.), [2012] O.A.C. Uned. 514; 2012 ONCA 645, refd to. [para. 39].

R. v. McRae (S.), [2013] 3 S.C.R. 931; 451 N.R. 375; 2013 SCC 68, refd to. [para. 47].

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. 49].

R. v. Khawaja (M.M.), [2012] 3 S.C.R. 555; 437 N.R. 42; 301 O.A.C. 200; 2012 SCC 69, refd to. [para. 49].

R. v. Goulet (T.L.) (2011), 510 A.R. 315; 527 W.A.C. 315; 52 Alta. L.R.(5th) 241; 2011 ABCA 230, refd to. [para. 53].

R. v. J.Y. (1996), 141 Sask.R. 132; 114 W.A.C. 132; 104 C.C.C.(3d) 512 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 5].

R. v. O'Keefe (G.M.) (2011), 309 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 253; 962 A.P.R. 253; 2011 NLCA 41, refd to. [para. 58].

Statutes Noticed:

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 343(a) [para. 9]; sect. 752(a)(i), sect. 752(b) [para. 8]; sect. 752.1(1) [para. 7].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Driedger, Elmer A., Construction of Statutes (2nd Ed. 1983), c. 2, p. 87 [para. 23].

Scassa, Teresa, Violence Against Women in Law Schools (1992), 30 Alta. L. Rev. 809, p. 816 [para. 43].

Sullivan, Ruth, Sullivan on the Construction of Statutes (5th Ed. 2008), p. 222 [paras. 51 and 64].

Counsel:

Ami Kotler and Neil Steen, for the appellant;

J. David L. Soper and Amanda Sansregret, for the respondent;

Jeffrey G. Johnston, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Canada;

Leslie Paine and Michelle Campbell, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Ontario.

Solicitors of Record:

Attorney General of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the appellant;

Walsh & Company, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Legal Aid Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the respondent;

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

Attorney General of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervener, the Attorney General of Ontario.

This appeal was heard on April 17, 2014, before McLachlin, C.J.C., Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Moldaver, Karakatsanis and Wagner, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The following decision was delivered for the court, in both official languages, on October 9, 2014, by Wagner, J.

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