Starr et al. v. Houlden, (1990) 110 N.R. 81 (SCC)

JudgeDickson, C.J.C., Lamer, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier and Cory, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateMarch 08, 1990
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1990), 110 N.R. 81 (SCC);110 NR 81;9 WCB (2d) 727;[1990] SCJ No 30 (QL);41 OAC 161;1990 CanLII 112 (SCC);JE 90-610;68 DLR (4th) 641;20 ACWS (3d) 354;[1990] 1 SCR 1366;72 OR (2d) 701;55 CCC (3d) 472

Starr v. Houlden (1990), 110 N.R. 81 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

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

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

Patricia Starr, Tridel Corporation Inc., Mario Giampietri and Gordon Ashworth v. Honourable Mr. Justice Lloyd W. Houlden, Commissioner and Government of Ontario

(No. 21777)

Indexed As: Starr et al. v. Houlden

Supreme Court of Canada

Dickson, C.J.C., Lamer, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier and Cory, JJ.

April 5, 1990.

Summary:

Starr was the president and chairperson of the Board of the Toronto section of the National Council of Jewish Women in Canada, a registered charitable organization. The media alleged that Starr made contributions from the coffers of the charity to political parties and referred to Starr's association with Tridel Corporation, a real estate development corporation. Allegations and speculation respecting Starr continued to mount. The Ontario Premier's Executive Director, Gordon Ashworth, resigned after revealing that Starr arranged for his family to receive a new refrigerator and to have their house painted at no cost to himself. The Premier of Ontario thereafter ordered a public inquiry into the relationship between Starr, and any person or corporation she may have acted for, including Tridel Corp., and any elected and appointed officials, including Ashworth. A Commission of Inquiry was set up by order-in-council pursuant to the Public Inquiries Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 411, appointing Mr. Justice Lloyd W. Houlden as Commissioner. As soon as the inquiry commenced Starr et al. asked the Commissioner to state a case to the Divisional Court dealing with the competence of the province to establish the inquiry and its potential effects on individual rights at common law and under the Charter. The Commissioner refused to state a case. Starr et al. applied under s. 6 of the Public Inquiries Act for an order directing the Commissioner to state a case.

The Ontario Divisional Court, in a decision reported 37 O.A.C. 45, considered the merits of the case, dismissed the application and refused to direct a stated case. Starr et al. appealed.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a decision reported 37 O.A.C. 124, dismissed the appeal. Starr et al. appealed again.

The Supreme Court of Canada, L'Heureux-Dubé, J., dissenting, allowed the appeal. The court held that the order-in-council setting up the inquiry was ultra vires the province as being a matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal Parliament under s. 91(27) of the Constitution Act, 1867 (the criminal law power).

Administrative Law - Topic 7964

Public inquiries - Powers of - Limitations on grant of powers - The Supreme Court of Canada reviewed the jurisprudence dealing with the constitutionality of provincial commissions of inquiry - See paragraphs 24 to 33.

Administrative Law - Topic 7964

Public inquiries - Powers of - Limitations on grant of powers - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "provinces should be given ample room within their constitutional competence to establish public inquiries aimed at investigating, studying and recommending changes for the better government of their citizens. What a province may not do ... is enact a public inquiry, with all its coercive powers, as a substitute for an investigation and preliminary inquiry into specific individuals in respect of specific criminal offences ..." - See paragraph 44.

Administrative Law - Topic 7964

Public inquiries - Powers of - Limitations on grant of powers of provincial inquiry re criminal activity - A charity representative allegedly made donations to political parties out of charity funds - A public inquiry as ordered into the relationship between certain named individuals (including the representative) and corporations, and elected and unelected public officials (Public Inquiries Act (Ont.)) - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the inquiry was ultra vires the province because it was in pith and substance a matter related to criminal law and procedure under federal jurisdiction (Constitution Act, 1867, s. 91(27)) - The court noted that the inquiry was a substitute police investigation and preliminary inquiry of named persons respecting a specific criminal offence (Criminal Code, s. 121).

Administrative Law - Topic 7991

Public inquiries - Practice - General - A public inquiry was set up by order-in-council under the Public Inquiries Act to investigate and report into the relationship between certain individuals and corporations, and elected and unelected public officials - The Supreme Court of Canada opined that the terms of reference envisaged a two-step process that eventually narrowed the scope of the inquiry - Step One was to investigate the nature and extent of dealings between the parties - Step Two was to inquiry into and report on any such dealings where there was sufficient evidence that a benefit was conferred on a public official - See paragraph 23.

Constitutional Law - Topic 6443

Federal jurisdiction - Criminal law - Matters criminal in nature - [See third Administrative Law - Topic 7964].

Cases Noticed:

Nelles et al. v. Grange et al. (1984), 3 O.A.C. 40; 46 O.R.(2d) 210 (C.A.), consd. [paras. 9, 11, 12, 31, 79].

Di Iorio and Fontaine v. Warden of the Common Jail of the City of Montreal, [1978] 1 S.C.R. 152; 8 N.R. 361, consd. [paras. 13, 26, 27, 28, 29, 33, 47, 74, 88, 95, 105].

Keable and Attorney General of the Province of Québec v. Attorney General of Canada et al., [1979] 1 S.C.R. 218; 24 N.R. 1, consd. [paras. 13, 28, 29, 32, 33, 36, 86, 87, 96, 105].

O'Hara and Kirkbride v. British Columbia, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 591; 80 N.R. 127, consd. [paras. 13, 32, 33, 36, 39, 89, 91, 99, 101, 104, 105, 109, 118].

Faber v. Sa Majesté la Reine et le Procureur général et Ministre de la justice de la province du Québec et autres, [1976] 2 S.C.R. 9; 8 N.R. 29, consd. [paras. 25, 27, 28, 85, 88, 92, 95, 105].

R. v. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. (1981), 33 O.R.(2d) 694 (C.A.), consd. [paras. 30, 31]; refd to. [para. 98].

Canadian National Transportation Ltd. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General), [1983] 2 S.C.R. 206; 49 N.R. 241, consd. [para. 30].

Attorney General for Alberta v. Attorney General for Canada (Alberta Bank Taxation Reference), [1939] A.C. 117, refd to. [para. 35].

R. v. Cooper, [1978] 1 S.C.R. 860; 14 N.R. 181, refd to. [para. 41].

R. v. Brown (1956), 116 C.C.C. 287 (Ont. C.A.), refd to. [para. 41].

United States of America v. Shephard, [1977] 2 S.C.R. 1067; 9 N.R. 215; 30 C.C.C.(2d) 424; 70 D.L.R.(3d) 136; 34 C.R.N.S. 207, refd to. [para. 42].

Cock v. Attorney General (1909), 28 N.Z.L.R. 405, consd. [para. 43].

Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Re (1978), 94 D.L.R.(3d) 365, refd to. [para. 83].

R. v. Vermette, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 985; 84 N.R. 296, refd to. [para. 87].

Canada v. Amway Corp., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 21; 91 N.R. 18, refd to. [para. 111].

Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Quebec (Procureur général), [1989] 1 S.C.R. 927; 94 N.R. 167; 24 Q.A.C. 2, refd to. [para. 111].

R. v. Lyons, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 309; 80 N.R. 161, refd to. [para. 118].

Statutes Noticed:

B.N.A. Act - see Constitution Act, 1867.

British North America Act - see Constitution Act, 1867.

Canada Evidence Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-5, sect. 5(2) [paras. 115, 117].

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1 [paras. 8, 120]; sect. 7 [paras. 8, 110, 111, 112, 116]; sect. 8 [para. 8]; sect. 11 [paras. 110, 115, 117]; sect. 11(c) [paras. 8, 111, 117]; sect. 11(d) [para. 8]; sect. 13 [paras. 8, 110, 115, 117].

Constitution Act, 1867, sect. 91 [para. 22]; sect. 91(27) [paras. 7, 21, 44]; sect. 92 [para. 22]; sect. 92(4) [paras. 7, 18, 38, 60, 86]; sect. 92(7) [paras. 7, 18, 38, 60]; sect. 92(13) [paras. 7, 18, 38]; sect. 92(14) [paras. 32, 60, 90]; sect. 92(16) [paras. 7, 18, 38, 60].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 119 [para. 12]; sect. 121 [paras. 12, 21, 34, 39, 48, 70, 78]; sect. 121(1)(b) [paras. 6, 18, 39, 40, 41, 42, 48, 70, 77]; sect. 535 [paras. 42, 82]; sect. 541 [para. 43]; sect. 548 [paras. 42, 82].

Election Finances Reform Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 134 [para. 2].

Evidence Act - see Canada Evidence Act.

Members' Conflict of Interest Act, S.O. 1988, c. 17 [para. 55].

Public Inquiries Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 411, sect. 1 [para. 5]; sect. 2 [paras. 5, 16, 61, 70]; sect. 3 [para. 5]; sect. 4 [paras. 5, 114]; sect. 5 [para. 5]; sect. 6 [paras. 4, 5]; sect. 7, sect. 8 [para. 5]; sect. 9 [paras. 5, 115, 117]; sect. 9(1) [para. 76]; sect. 10, sect. 11 [para. 5].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Canada, Law Reform Commission, Report 13, Report on Advisory and Investigatory Commisions (1979), p. 6 [para. 36].

Canada, Law Reform Commission, Working Paper 17, Administrative Law: Commissions of Inquiry (1977), pp. 19 [para. 72]; 20 [para. 44]; 31 [para. 65].

Christie, Innis and Paul Pross, Introduction to Commissions of Inquiry (1990) [para. 44].

Grange, Samuel, How Should Lawyers and the Legal Profession Adapt (1990), 12 Dal. L.J. 151, pp. 154, 155 [para. 79].

Hogg, Peter W., Constitutional Law of Canada (2nd Ed. 1985), pp. 318, 319, 323 [para. 22].

Le Dain, Gerald E., The Role of the Public Inquiry in our Constitutional System, in Jacob S. Ziegel (ed.), Law and Social Change (1973) [para. 44].

Lockwood, Thomas J., A History of Royal Commissions (1967), 5 Osgoode Hall L.J. 172 [para. 44].

Macdonald, R.A., The Commission of Inquiry in the Perspective of Administrative Law (1980), 18 Alta. L.R. 366, generally [para. 44]; p. 371 [para. 73].

Maillet, Lise, Provincial Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry, 1867-1982: A Selective Bibliography (1986) [para. 68].

MacKay, A. Wayne, Mandates, Legal Foundations, Powers and Conduct of Commissions of Inquiry (1990), 12 Dal. L.J. 29, p. 34 [para. 71].

Ontario, Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Hansard, Official Report of Debates, Second Session, 34th Parliament (1989), pp. 1135 [para. 50]; 1137 [para. 51]; 1361 [para. 53]; 1362 [para. 52]; 1562 [para. 54]; 1711 [para. 66]; 1712 [paras. 66, 93].

Sellar, Watson, A Century of Commissions of Inquiry (1947), 25 Can. Bar Rev. 1 [para. 44].

Ziegel, Jacob S. (ed.), Law and Social Change (1973) [para. 44].

Counsel:

A.M. Cooper, Q.C., and Peter West, for the appellant, Patricia Starr;

Earl A. Cherniak, Q.C., Mary Anne Sanderson and Martin I. Applebaum, Q.C., for the appellant, Tridel Corporation Inc.;

Alan Gold, for the appellant, Mario Giampietri;

Gina S. Brannan, for the appellant, Gordon Ashworth;

John W. Brown, Q.C., Kathryn N. Feldman and J.A. Prestage, for the respondent, Honourable Mr. Justice Lloyd W. Houlden, Commissioner;

Dennis R. O'Connor, Q.C., and Freya J. Kristjanson, for the respondent, Government of Ontario.

Solicitors of Record:

Cooper, Sandler & West, Toronto, Ontario, for the appellant, Patricia Starr;

Lerner & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, for the apppellant, Tridel Corporation Inc.;

Gold & Fuerst, Toronto, Ontario, for the appellant, Mario Giampietri;

Lyons, Goodman, Iacono, Smith & Berkow, Toronto, Ontario, for the appellant, Gordon Ashworth;

Blake, Cassels & Graydon, Toronto, Ontario, for the respondent, Honourable Mr. Justice Lloyd W. Houlden, Commissioner;

Borden & Elliot, Toronto, Ontario, for the respondent, Government of Ontario.

This appeal was heard on March 8, 1990, before Dickson, C.J.C., Lamer, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier and Cory, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages on April 5, 1990, including the following opinions:

Lamer, J. (Dickson, C.J.C., La Forest, Sopinka, Gonthier and Cory, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 45;

L'Heureux-Dubé, J., dissenting - see paragraphs 46 to 121.

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