R. v. Swain, (1991) 125 N.R. 1 (SCC)

JudgeGonthier and Cory, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateMay 02, 1991
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1991), 125 N.R. 1 (SCC);5 CR (4th) 253;JE 91-765;47 OAC 81;63 CCC (3d) 481;125 NR 1;[1991] 1 SCR 933;12 WCB (2d) 582;1991 CanLII 104 (SCC);[1991] CarswellOnt 93;3 CRR (2d) 1;[1991] SCJ No 32 (QL)

R. v. Swain (1991), 125 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]

....................

Owen Lloyd Swain v. Her Majesty The Queen

- and -

The Attorney General of Canada, The Lieutenant Governor's Board of Review of Ontario, The Canadian Disability Rights Council, The Canadian Mental Health Association and The Canadian Association of Community Living

(19758)

Indexed As: R. v. Swain

Supreme Court of Canada

Lamer, C.J.C., Wilson, La Forest,

L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka,

Gonthier and Cory, JJ.

May 2, 1991.

Summary:

The accused was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of assault following an incident in his home. The accused entered his home and started breaking the furniture. He woke both his children, aged 16 months and two months, and swung them over his head by the ankles. He also held his wife down and scratched an "X" on her chest with a meat cleaver. The accused was allegedly "clearing his family of evil spirits". The trial judge found the accused not guilty by reason of insanity after allowing the Crown to call evidence on the issue of insanity and after ruling that s. 542(2) of the Criminal Code regarding committal of insane accused did not violate ss. 7, 9, 12 and 15 of the Charter. The accused appealed.

The Ontario Court of Appeal in a judgment reported 13 O.A.C. 161; 24 C.C.C.(3d) 385, dismissed the appeal. The accused appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal and entered a stay of proceedings. The court held that s. 542(2) was intra vires Parliament, but violated ss. 7 and 9 of the Charter. The court imposed a six month transitional period to permit an acceptable provision to be devised. The court also modified the common law rule respecting the adduction of evidence of insanity.

L'Heureux-Dubé, J., dissenting, opined that neither the common law rule respecting the adduction of evidence of insanity nor s. 542(2) violated the Charter.

Civil Rights - Topic 659

Liberty - Limitations on - Committal of insane accused - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the automatic indetermi­nate remand pending disposition by the Lieutenant Governor under s. 542(2) of the Criminal Code of those found not guilty of crime by reason of insanity violated the right to liberty guaranteed by s. 7 of the Charter and the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned guaranteed by s. 9 - See paragraphs 123 to 133, 164 - The court held that s. 542(2) was not saved by s. 1 of the Charter - See paragraphs 134 to 153.

Civil Rights - Topic 3133

Trials, due process, fundamental justice and fair hearings - Criminal and quasi-criminal proceedings - Right of accused to make full answer and defence - The Supreme Court of Canada held that "the common law rule which allows the Crown to raise evidence of insanity over and above the accused's wishes is a denial of liberty which is not in accordance with the rules of fundamental justice" - See para­graphs 30 to 55, 165 to 174, 194 - The court held that the rule was not saved by s. 1 of the Charter, because, where a non-offending common law rule could be devised, the old common law rule did not infringe rights as little as possible - See paragraphs 56 to 76, 92, 175 to 181, 194.

Civil Rights - Topic 3133

Trials, due process, fundamental justice and fair hearings - Criminal and quasi-criminal proceedings - Right of accused to make full answer and defence - [See Civil Rights - Topic 5644.1 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 3603

Detention and imprisonment - Arbitrary detention - What constitutes - [See Civil Rights - Topic 659 ].

Civil Rights - Topic 5644.1

Equality and protection of the law - Trial of insane accused - The Supreme Court of Canada devised the following new com­mon law rule for the trial of allegedly insane accused: The Crown may raise the issue of insanity only after the trier of fact has concluded that the accused is other­wise guilty; that is, the issue of insanity would be tried after a guilty verdict but prior to a conviction being entered - If, however, the accused in the opinion of the trial judge raises the issue of insanity before verdict, the Crown may call evi­dence on the issue and the jury may be instructed on the s. 16 insanity defence - See paragraphs 71 to 77, 194 - The court held that the new rule did not violate an accused's equality rights under s. 15 of the Charter - See paragraphs 78 to 93, 194.

Civil Rights - Topic 8306.1

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - General - Common law - The Supreme Court of Canada reiterated that the Charter applies to common law rules as well as to statutes and regulations - Hence, a com­mon law rule which is inconsistent with the Charter is of no force to the extent of its inconsistency - See paragraph 31.

Civil Rights - Topic 8306.1

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - General - Common law - The Supreme Court of Canada noted that when a com­mon law rule is found to violate the Char­ter, it may not be necessary to determine whether it is saved by s. 1 of the Charter, because an alternate common law rule, which does not conflict with the Charter, may be devised by the court - The court noted further that judicial deference is inapplicable in considering a common law rule - See paragraphs 51 to 55, 65 to 66, 92.

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limit prescribed by law - The Supreme Court of Canada held that "the common law rule which allowed the Crown to raise evidence of insanity over and above the accused's wishes is a denial of liberty which is not in accordance with the rules of fundamental justice" - See paragraphs 30 to 55, 165 to 174, 194 - The court held that the rule was not saved by s. 1 of the Charter, because, where a non-offending common law rule could be devised, the old common law rule did not infringe rights as little as possible - See paragraphs 56 to 76, 92, 175 to 181, 194.

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limits prescribed by law - The Supreme Court of Canada noted that when a com­mon law rule is found to violate the Char­ter, it may not be necessary to determine whether it is saved by s. 1 of the Charter, because an alternate common law rule, which does not conflict with the Charter, may be devised by the court - The court noted further that judicial deference is inapplicable in considering a common law rule - See paragraphs 51 to 55, 65 to 66, 92.

Civil Rights - Topic 8380.2

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Remedies - Decla­ration of statute invalidity - Transition period - The Supreme Court of Canada declared invalid s. 542(2) of the Criminal Code respecting the automatic remand of accused found not guilty by reason of insanity, but ordered a six month transition period to permit the Crown to devise an acceptable replacement - See paragraphs 157 to 161, 189.

Civil Rights - Topic 8469

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Interpretation - United States experience - The Supreme Court of Canada con­sidered American academic and judicial authorities in determining the constitutional validity of the automatic detention of accused acquitted of crime by reason of insanity under s. 542(2) of the Criminal Code - See paragraphs 35, 139, 171 to 174.

Constitutional Law - Topic 6506

Federal jurisdiction - Criminal law - Committal of insane accused - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the Criminal Code provisions respecting com­mittal of insane accused was valid federal legislation within the criminal law power, because in pith and substance it was legis­lation for the protection of society from dangerous people who have engaged in criminal conduct - The court reaffirmed the preventive aspect of the criminal law power - See paragraphs 94 to 120, 163.

Courts - Topic 103

Stare decisis - Authority of judicial deci­sions - English and American authorities - American decisions - [See Civil Rights - Topic 8469 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 107

General principles - Insanity - Evidence - The Supreme Court of Canada held that "the common law rule which allowed the Crown to raise evidence of insanity over and above the accused's wishes is a denial of liberty which is not in accordance with the rules of fundamental justice" - See paragraphs 30 to 55, 165 to 174, 194 - The court held that the rule was not saved by s. 1 of the Charter, because, where a non-offending common law rule could be devised, the old common law rule did not infringe rights as little as possible - See paragraphs 56 to 76, 92, 175 to 181, 194.

Criminal Law - Topic 107

General principles - Insanity - Evidence - [See Civil Rights - Topic 5644.1 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 114

General principles - Insanity - Committal of insane accused - [See Civil Rights - Topic 659 ].

Criminal Law - Topic 128

General principles - Rights of accused - Right to make full answer and defence - Right to control defence - The Supreme Court of Canada held that "the common law rule which allowed the Crown to raise evidence of insanity over and above the accused's wishes is a denial of liberty which is not in accordance with the rules of fundamental justice" - See paragraphs 30 to 55, 165 to 174, 194 - The court held that the rule was not saved by s. 1 of the Charter, because, where a non-offending common law rule could be devised, the old common law rule did not infringe rights as little as possible - See paragraphs 56 to 76, 92, 175 to 181, 194.

Criminal Law - Topic 128

General principles - Rights of accused - Right to make full answer and defence - [See Civil Rights - Topic 5644.1 ].

Practice - Topic 9093

Appeals - Supreme Court of Canada - Stating of constitutional questions - The Supreme Court of Canada refused to con­sider questions which were not included in the constitutional questions stated as required by s. 32(1), (4) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada - See para­graphs 154 to 156.

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Simpson (1977), 35 C.C.C.(2d) 337, disapprvd. [paras. 11, 165].

R. v. Saxell (1980), 59 C.C.C.(2d) 176, disapprvd. [paras. 11, 165].

R. v. Kjeldsen, [1981] 2 S.C.R. 617; 39 N.R. 376; 34 A.R. 576, refd to. [para. 18].

Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 177; 58 N.R. 1; 17 D.L.R.(4th) 422; 14 C.R.R. 13; 12 Admin. L.R. 137, consd. [paras. 20, 124, 221].

R. v. Morgentaler (1985), 11 O.A.C. 81; 22 C.C.C.(3d) 353, refd to. [para. 23].

Dolphin Delivery Ltd. v. Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Local 580, [1986] 2 S.C.R. 573; 71 N.R. 83; 33 D.L.R.(4th) 174; [1987] 1 W.W.R. 577, appld. [para. 31].

R. v. Therens, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 613; 59 N.R. 122; 40 Sask.R. 122; [1985] 4 W.W.R. 286; 45 C.R.(3d) 97; 18 C.C.C.(3d) 481; 18 D.L.R.(4th) 655; 32 M.V.R. 153, appld. [para. 31].

Reference re Section 94(2) of the Motor Vehicle Act (B.C.), [1985] 2 S.C.R. 486; 63 N.R. 266; [1986] 1 W.W.R. 481; 24 D.L.R.(4th) 536; 23 C.C.C.(3d) 289; 48 C.R.(3d) 289; 36 M.V.R. 240; 69 B.C.L.R. 145; 18 C.R.R. 30, appld. [paras. 34, 36, 123, 180, 203].

R. v. Chaulk and Morrissette (1990), 119 N.R. 161; 69 Man.R.(2d) 161, appld. [paras. 35, 73].

Faretta v. California (1975), 422 U.S. 806 (Calif. C.A.), consd. [para. 35].

R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30; 82 N.R. 1; 26 O.A.C. 1; 62 C.R.(3d) 1, appld. [para. 36].

Borowski v. Canada (Attorney General), [1989] 1 S.C.R. 342; 92 N.R. 110; 75 Sask.R. 82, appld. [para. 36].

R. v. Hebert, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 151; 110 N.R. 1; 57 C.C.C.(3d) 1, consd. [para. 36].

Phillips v. Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. (1971), 18 D.L.R.(3d) 641, consd. [para. 36].

R. v. Askov, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 1199; 113 N.R. 241; 42 O.A.C. 81; 59 C.C.C.(3d) 449; 79 C.R.(3d) 273, appld. [para. 47].

R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103; 65 N.R. 87; 14 O.A.C. 335; 50 C.R.(3d) 1; 24 C.C.C.(3d) 321; 26 D.L.R.(4th) 200, appld. [paras. 54, 175, 191].

R. v. Videoflicks Ltd. et al., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 713; 71 N.R. 161; 19 O.A.C. 239; 30 C.C.C.(3d) 385; 55 C.R.(3d) 193; 14 D.L.R.(4th) 10; 28 C.R.R. 1, appld. [paras. 65, 175].

R. v. Edwards Books and Art Ltd. - see R. v. Videoflicks Ltd.

Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Quebec (Attorney Gen­eral), [1989] 1 S.C.R. 927; 94 N.R. 16; 24 Q.A.C. 2, appld. [para. 65].

Reference re ss. 193 and 195.1(1)(c) of the Criminal Code, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 1123; 109 N.R. 81; 68 Man.R.(2d) 1; [1990] 4 W.W.R. 481; 56 C.C.C.(3d) 65; 77 C.R.(3d) 1, appld. [para. 65].

Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 143; 91 N.R. 255; [1989] 2 W.W.R. 289; 56 D.L.R. (4th) 1, appld. [para. 79].

McKinney v. University of Guelph, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 229; 118 N.R. 1; 45 O.A.C. 1, appld. [para. 79].

R. v. Turpin, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1296; 96 N.R. 115; 34 O.A.C. 115; 48 C.C.C.(3d) 8; 69 C.R.(3d) 97, appld. [paras. 80, 170].

Canadian Federation of Agriculture v. Attorney General for Quebec, [1951] A.C. 179, appld. [para. 97].

Reference re Validity of Section 5(a) of the Dairy Industry Act, [1949] S.C.R. 1, appld. [para. 97].

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. of Canada Ltd. v. R., [1956] S.C.R. 303, appld. [para. 99].

R. v. Lyons, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 309; 80 N.R. 161; 82 N.S.R.(2d) 271; 207 A.P.R. 271, appld. [paras. 100, 131, 222, 230].

Attorney General of Canada v. Pattison (1981), 30 A.R. 83; 59 C.C.C.(2d) 138, appld. [para. 101].

Vapour Canada Ltd. v. MacDonald, [1977] 2 S.C.R. 134; 7 N.R. 477, appld. [para. 102].

R. v. Fowler, [1980] 2 S.C.R. 213; 32 N.R. 230, dist. [para. 105].

Schneider v. British Columbia et al., [1982] 2 S.C.R. 112; 43 N.R. 91; [1982] 6 W.W.R. 673, consd. [para. 108].

Re Rebic and R. (1986), 28 C.C.C.(3d) 154, consd. [para. 111].

Lingley v. New Brunswick Board of Review (1973), 13 C.C.C.(2d) 303, consd. [para. 116].

Attorney General of British Columbia v. Smith, [1967] S.C.R. 702, consd. [para. 119].

Davidson v. Slaight Communications Inc., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1038; 93 N.R. 183, appld. [para. 125].

Slaight Communications Inc. v. Davidson - see Davidson v. Slaight Communica­tions Inc.

Jones v. United States, 103 S.Ct. 3043, consd. [para. 139].

Reference re Manitoba Language Rights, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 721; 59 N.R. 321; 35 Man.R.(2d) 83, folld. [para. 160].

R. v. Brydges, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 190; 103 N.R. 282; 104 A.R. 124, folld. [para. 160].

Metropolitan Stores (MTS) Ltd. v. Mani­toba Food and Commercial Workers, Local 832 and Labour Board (Man.), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 110; 73 N.R. 341; 46 Man.R.(2d) 241, consd. [para. 164].

Southam Inc. v. Hunter, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 145; 55 N.R. 241; 55 A.R. 291; [1984] 6 W.W.R. 577; 11 D.L.R.(4th) 641; 14 C.C.C.(3d) 97; 41 C.R.(3d) 97; 9 C.R.R. 355; 33 Alta. L.R.(2d) 193; 27 B.L.R. 297; 84 D.T.C. 6467; 2 C.P.R.(3d) 1, consd. [para. 164].

R. v. Turpin, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1296; 96 N.R. 115; 34 O.A.C. 115; 48 C.C.C.(3d) 8; 69 C.R.(3d) 97, appld. [para. 170].

Whalem v. U.S., 346 F.2d 812 (D.C. Cir. 1965), consd. [para. 173].

Frendak v. U.S., 408 A.2d 364 (D.C. Cir. App. 1979), consd. [para. 173].

Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Quebec (Attorney Gen­eral), [1989] 1 S.C.R. 927; 94 N.R. 16; 24 Q.A.C. 2, consd. [para. 177].

Thomson Newspapers Ltd. v. Director of Investigation and Research, Combines Investigation Act), [1990] 1 S.C.R. 425; 106 N.R. 161; 39 O.A.C. 161, consd. [para. 180].

R. v. Corbett, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 670; 85 N.R. 81; 41 C.C.C.(3d) 385, consd. [para. 206].

R. v. Beare; R. v. Higgins, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 387; 88 N.R. 205; 71 Sask.R. 1; [1989] 1 W.W.R. 203; 45 C.C.C.(3d) 57, consd. [paras. 213, 232].

R. v. Potvin, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 525; 93 N.R. 42; 21 Q.A.C. 258, consd. [para. 214].

Re Abel and Advisory Review Board (1980), 56 C.C.C.(2d) 153 (Ont. C.A.), consd. [para. 224].

Re McCann and R. (1982), 67 C.C.C.(2d) 180 (B.C.C.A.), consd. [para. 224].

Re Egglestone and Mousseau and Advis­ory Review Board (1983), 42 O.R.(2d) 268 (Div. Ct.), consd. [para. 224].

Jollimore v. Nova Scotia (Attorney Gen­eral) (1986), 75 N.S.R.(2d) 191; 186 A.P.R. 191 (N.S.S.C.), consd. [para. 224].

Attorney General of Ontario v. Grady (1988), 34 C.R.R. 289 (Ont. H.C.), consd. [para. 224].

R. v. Hufsky, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 621; 84 N.R. 365; 27 O.A.C. 103; 63 C.R.(3d) 14; 4 M.V.R.(2d) 170; 40 C.C.C.(3d) 398, consd. [para. 231].

R. v. Luxton, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 711; 112 N.R. 193; 111 A.R. 161, consd. [para. 234].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1 [para. 9]; sect. 7, sect. 9 [paras. 9, 200]; sect. 12 [para. 9]; sect. 15 [paras. 9, 78].

Constitution Act, 1867, sect. 91(27), sect. 92(7), sect. 92(13), sect. 92(16) [para. 95].

Constitution Act, 1982, sect. 52(1) [para. 10].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1970, c. C-34, sect. 16 [para. 8]; sect. 542 [paras. 8, 199]; sect. 543 [para. 37]; sect. 545, sect. 547 [paras. 8, 199].

Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, S.O.R. 83-74, sect. 32(1) [para. 154]; sect. 32(4) [para. 155].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Canadian Data Base: Patients Held on Lieutenant Governors' Warrants, A De­scription of Patients and Lieutenant Governors' Warrants (1988) [para. 143].

Cohn, D.S., Offensive Use of the Insanity Defence: Imposing the Insanity Defence Over the Defendant's Objection (1988), 15 Hast. Const. L.Q. 295, 313 [para. 171].

Hogg, P.W., Constitutional Law of Canada (2nd Ed. 1985), pp. 313 [para. 96]; 411 [para. 98].

Laskin, B., Canadian Constitutional Law (5th Ed. 1985), vol. 2, p. 850 [para. 98].

Singer, A.C., The Imposition of the Insan­ity Defence on an Unwilling Defendant (1980), 41 Ohio St. L.J. 637, 660 [para. 172].

Stuart, D., Canadian Criminal Law (2nd Ed. 1987), pp. 344-345 [para. 176].

Weiler, P., Two Models of Judicial Deci­sion-Making (1968), 46 Can. Bar Rev. 406, 412 [para. 36].

Counsel:

Clayton Ruby, Marlys Edwardh and Michael Code, for the appellant;

Eric Siebenmorgen, for the respondent Crown;

I.G. Whitehall, Q.C., and B. Glendinning, for the intervener the Attorney General of Canada;

Paul J. French, for the intervener the Lieu­tenant Governor's Board of Review of Ontario;

Gwen Brodsky and Yvonne Peters, for the interveners the Canadian Disability Rights Council, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Association of Community Living.

Solicitors of Record:

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

Attorney General for Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, for the respondent;

John C. Tait, Ottawa, Ontario, for the intervener the Attorney General of Canada;

Hughs, Amys, Toronto, Ontario, for the intervener the Lieutenant Governor's Board of Review of Ontario;

British Columbia Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia, for the interveners the Canadian Disability Rights Council, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Association of Community Living.

This case was heard on February 19, 1990, at Ottawa, Ontario, before Lamer, C.J.C., Wilson, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier and Cory, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On May 2, 1991, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered and the following opinions were filed:

Lamer, C.J.C. (Sopinka and Cory, JJ.,  concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 161;

Wilson, J. - see paragraphs 162 to 189;

Gonthier, J. (La Forest, J., concurring) -  see paragraphs 190 to 195;

L'Heureux-Dubé, J., dissenting - see  paragraphs 196 to 237.

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    • Canada
    • Irwin Books Criminal Law. Eighth edition
    • September 1, 2022
    ...of Agriculture v Quebec (AG) , [1951] AC 179 (PC); Labatt Breweries of Canada Ltd v Canada (AG) , [1980] 1 SCR 914. 5 R v Swain , [1991] 1 SCR 933; R v Demers [2004] 2 SCR 489. 6 R v Zelensky , [1978] 2 SCR 940. 7 RJR-MacDonald Inc v Canada (AG) , [1995] 3 SCR 199. The advertising restricti......
  • Table of Cases
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books Archive The Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Fifth Edition
    • August 29, 2013
    ...322 R v Suberu, 2009 SCC 33, [2009] SCJ No 33 ..................................................... 302 R v Swain, [1991] 1 SCR 933, 63 CCC (3d) 481.......................................................... 66, 105, 290, 300, 309, 372, 428 R v Taillefer; R v Duguay, [2003] 3 SCR 307, 2003 S......
  • Criminal Code
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books Annotated Ontario Mental Health Statutes - Fifth edition
    • June 28, 2022
    ...done as late as upon a inding of guilt but prior to conviction. As a result of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Swain , [1991] 1 SCR 933, a new common law rule was established that the Crown may also raise the “defence” over the accused’s objection at one of two junctures. Fi......
  • The Impact of the Charter
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books Archive Detention and Arrest
    • September 7, 2010
    ...1 S.C.R. 1291; Ladouceur , above note 5; R. v. Macooh , 1993 2 S.C.R. 802; and R. v. Mellenthin , 1992 3 S.C.R. 615. 37 R. v. Swain , 1991 1 S.C.R. 933 at 1012. 38 R. v. Pearson , 1992 3 S.C.R. 665 Pearson ; R. v. Morales , 1992 3 S.C.R. 711 Morales . 39 Lyons , above note 7. 40 Lyons , ibi......
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