Strickland et al. v. Canada (Attorney General), (2015) 473 N.R. 328 (SCC)

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Moldaver, Karakatsanis, Wagner, Gascon and Côté, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateJanuary 20, 2015
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(2015), 473 N.R. 328 (SCC);2015 SCC 37;386 DLR (4th) 1;[2015] ACS no 37;[2015] SCJ No 37 (QL);[2015] 2 SCR 713

Strickland v. Can. (A.G.) (2015), 473 N.R. 328 (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: [2015] N.R. TBEd. JL.001

Robert T. Strickland, George Connon, Roland Auer, Iwona Auer-Grzesiak, Mark Auer and Vladimir Auer by his Litigation Representative Roland Auer (appellants) v. Attorney General of Canada (respondent)

(35808; 2015 SCC 37; 2015 CSC 37)

Indexed As: Strickland et al. v. Canada (Attorney General)

Supreme Court of Canada

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

July 9, 2015.

Summary:

The applicants applied for judicial review under s. 18 of the Federal Courts Act, seeking to have the Federal Child Support Guidelines declared ultra vires the Divorce Act. The Attorney General of Canada moved to have the application dismissed.

The Federal Court, in a decision reported 432 F.T.R. 152, granted the motion and dismissed the judicial review application. The court held that there was concurrent jurisdiction between it and the provincial superior courts over applications such as this one, but declined to exercise its jurisdiction. The applicants appealed.

The Federal Court of Appeal, in a decision reported 460 N.R. 240, dismissed the appeal. The applicants appealed again.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal. The Federal Court was correct in determining that the provincial superior courts had jurisdiction to address the vires of the Guidelines in the context of proceedings for which they had jurisdiction under the Divorce Act and to decline to apply them if found to be ultra vires. Further, the Federal Court did not make any reviewable error in exercising the discretion not to entertain this judicial review application for declaratory relief.

Administrative Law - Topic 3207

Judicial review - General - Discretionary nature of judicial review - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the generally the discretionary nature of judicial review and declaratory relief, including the discretionary ground of adequate alternative relief - See paragraphs 37 to 45.

Administrative Law - Topic 3222

Judicial review - General - Superior courts - [See first Courts - Topic 4021 ].

Administrative Law - Topic 3302

Judicial review - General - Bars - Alternate remedy - [See Administrative Law - Topic 3207 ].

Administrative Law - Topic 4506

Judicial review - Declaratory action - General principles - Discretionary nature - [See Administrative Law - Topic 3207 ].

Administrative Law - Topic 4562

Judicial review - Declaratory action - Bars - Existence of alternate remedy - [See Administrative Law - Topic 3207 ].

Administrative Law - Topic 7091

Judicial review - Bars - Discretionary bars - General - [See Administrative Law - Topic 3207 ].

Administrative Law - Topic 7096

Judicial review - Discretionary bars - Existence of convenient or adequate alternative remedy - [See Administrative Law - Topic 3207 ].

Courts - Topic 4021

Federal Court of Canada - Jurisdiction - Trial Division - Relief against federal boards, commission or tribunals - An appeal in a judicial review matter proceeded on the assumption that the Federal Court had exclusive jurisdiction to declare invalid all federal regulations promulgated by the Governor-in-Council - The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal - However, Abella and Wagner, JJ., in concurring reasons, stated that while they agreed with the result reached by the majority, they were concerned that the reasons not be seen as representing a definitive view from the court that the provincial superior courts could not declare federal regulations invalid on administrative grounds - Abella and Wagner, JJ., stated that "In view of the fact that this issue was not argued, and given its importance, in our respectful view this case should not be seen as categorically endorsing this assumption. Pending argument in another case where the issue is squarely raised, our concerns arise from a number of sources" - Cromwell, J., speaking for the majority stated that "My colleagues [Abella and Wagner, JJ.] point to a number of 'concerns' about this assumption and raise various possible arguments that might be made to the contrary. As none of these points was argued, I of course will keep an open mind about them. But I do not want my silence on these issues to be understood as indicating that, at least as presently advised, I share the concerns raised by my colleagues" - See paragraphs 63, 64 and 66 to 85.

Courts - Topic 4021

Federal Court of Canada - Jurisdiction - Trial Division - Relief against federal boards, commission or tribunals - [See Courts - Topic 4206 ].

Courts - Topic 4206

Federal Court of Canada - Jurisdiction - Particular matters - Divorce (incl. custody) - The applicants applied for judicial review under s. 18 of the Federal Courts Act, seeking to have the Federal Child Support Guidelines declared ultra vires s. 26.1 of the Divorce Act (i.e., on administrative law grounds) - The Federal Court held that there was concurrent jurisdiction between it and the provincial superior courts over applications such as this one - The court, however, declined to exercise its jurisdiction, primarily because the provincial superior courts had greater expertise in family law - The applicants appealed - The Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal - The applicants appealed again - The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal - The Federal Court did not err in concluding that the provincial superior courts had jurisdiction to determine the vires of the Guidelines in the context of proceedings for which they had jurisdiction under the Divorce Act and to decline to apply them if found to be ultra vires - Further, the Federal Court did not make any reviewable error in exercising the discretion not to entertain this judicial review application for declaratory relief - See paragraphs 10 to 62.

Courts - Topic 5600

Provincial courts - General - Concurrent and conflicting jurisdiction - General - [See first Courts - Topic 4021 and Courts - Topic 4206 ].

Family Law - Topic 3503

Divorce - Jurisdiction - General - Courts - General - [See Courts - Topic 4206 ].

Family Law - Topic 3504

Courts - Jurisdiction - Federal Court of Canada - [See Courts - Topic 4206 ].

Family Law - Topic 4045.1

Divorce - Corollary relief - Maintenance - Child Support Guidelines (incl. nondivorce cases) - [See Courts - Topic 4206 ].

Cases Noticed:

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) (1993), 67 F.T.R. 98 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 11].

TeleZone Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), [2010] 3 S.C.R. 585; 410 N.R. 1; 273 O.A.C. 1; 2010 SCC 62, refd to. [paras. 11, 68].

Jabour v. Law Society of British Columbia et al., [1982] 2 S.C.R. 307; 43 N.R. 451, refd to. [paras. 12, 71].

Attorney General of Canada v. Law Society of British Columbia - see Jabour v. Law Society of British Columbia et al.

Canada Labour Relations Board and Canada (Attorney General) v. L'Anglais (Paul) Inc. et al., [1983] 1 S.C.R. 147; 47 N.R. 351, refd to. [paras. 12, 81].

Canadian Human Rights Commission v. Canadian Liberty Net et al., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 626; 224 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 18].

Khosa v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [2009] 1 S.C.R. 339; 385 N.R. 206; 2009 SCC 12, refd to. [para. 18].

McArthur v. Canada (Attorney General), [2010] 3 S.C.R. 626; 410 N.R. 55; 273 O.A.C. 55; 2010 SCC 63, refd to. [paras. 20, 78].

Canadian Food Inspection Agency v. Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada et al., [2010] 3 S.C.R. 657; 410 N.R. 94; 2010 SCC 66, refd to. [para. 20].

R. v. Mills, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 863; 67 N.R. 241; 16 O.A.C. 81, refd to. [para. 26].

R. v. Morgentaler et al. (1984), 6 O.A.C. 53; 41 C.R.(3d) 262 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 26].

R. v. Miller, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 613; 63 N.R. 321; 14 O.A.C. 33, refd to. [para. 31].

May et al. v. Ferndale Institution et al., [2005] 3 S.C.R. 809; 343 N.R. 69; 220 B.C.A.C. 1; 362 W.A.C. 1; 2005 SCC 82, refd to. [para. 31].

Khela v. Mission Institution (Warden) et al., [2014] 1 S.C.R. 502; 455 N.R. 279; 351 B.C.A.C. 91; 599 W.A.C. 91; 2014 SCC 24, refd to. [para. 31].

Harelkin v. University of Regina, [1979] 2 S.C.R. 561; 26 N.R. 364, refd to. [para. 37].

Canada (Auditor General) v. Canada (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources) et al., [1989] 2 S.C.R. 49; 97 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 37].

Canadian Pacific Ltd. v. Matsqui Indian Band et al., [1995] 1 S.C.R. 3; 177 N.R. 325, refd to. [para. 38].

Hadmoor Productions Ltd. v. Hamilton, [1982] 1 All E.R. 1042, refd to. [para. 39].

Ordon et al. v. Grail, [1998] 3 S.C.R. 437; 232 N.R. 201; 115 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 68].

Powell (C.B.) Ltd. v. Canada Border Services Agency (President) et al., [2011] 2 F.C.R. 332; 400 N.R. 367; 2010 FCA 61, refd to. [para. 42].

Sorbara v. Canada (Attorney General) (2009), 251 O.A.C. 99; 98 O.R.(3d) 673; 2009 ONCA 506, leave to appeal refused [2009] 3 S.C.R. x; 402 N.R. 396, refd to. [para. 68].

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool v. Canada (Attorney General) (1993), 113 Sask.R. 99; 52 W.A.C. 99; 107 D.L.R.(4th) 63 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 69].

Messageries publi-maison ltée v. Société canadienne des postes, [1996] R.J.Q. 547 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 69].

Waddell v. Governor in Council (1981), 30 B.C.L.R. 127 (S.C.), appeal dismissed (1982), 142 D.L.R.(3d) 177 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 70].

Milk Marketing Board (B.C.) v. Aquilini et al., [1997] B.C.J. No.l 843 (S.C.), revd. (1998), 112 B.C.A.C. 119; 182 W.A.C. 119; 165 D.L.R.(4th) 626 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 70].

Wakeford v. Canada (2002), 155 O.A.C. 78; 58 O.R.(3d) 65 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 72].

Lavers v. British Columbia (Minister of Finance) (1989), 64 D.L.R.(4th) 193 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [para. 72].

International Fund for Animal Welfare Inc. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (1998), 58 O.T.C. 19; 157 D.L.R.(4th) 561 (Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 72].

Federation of Law Societies of Canada v. Canada (Attorney General), [2015] 1 S.C.R. 401; 467 N.R. 243; 365 B.C.A.C. 3; 627 W.A.C. 3, refd to. [para. 73].

Dyck v. Highton (2003), 239 Sask.R. 38; 2003 SKQB 396 (Fam. Div.), refd to. [para. 73].

Ward v. Canada (Attorney General) et al. (1997), 155 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 313; 481 A.P.R. 313 (Nfld. T.D.), revd. (1999), 183 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 295; 556 A.P.R. 295 (Nfld. C.A.), revd. [2002] 1 S.C.R. 569; 283 N.R. 201; 211 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 125; 633 A.P.R. 125, refd to. [para. 73].

Souliere v. Leclair (1998), 59 O.T.C. 293; 52 C.R.R.(2d) 156 (Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 73].

Premi v. Khodeir, [2009] O.T.C. Uned. J80; 198 C.R.R.(2d) 8 (Sup. Ct.), refd to. [para. 73].

Grenon v. Canada (Attorney General) (2007), 421 A.R. 107; 76 Alta. L.R.(4th) 346 (Q.B. Master), refd to. [para. 73].

Statutes Noticed:

Federal Courts Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-7, sect. 18(1)(a) [para. 6].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Brown, Donald J.M., Evans, John M., and Deacon, Christine E., Judicial Review of Administrative Action in Canada (2013) (2014 Looseleaf Update, Release 3), paras. 2:4100 [para. 17]; 3:1100 [para. 37]; 3:2110, 3:2330 [para. 42].

Bushnell, Ian, The Federal Court of Canada: A History, 1875-1992 (1997), pp. 157, 158 [para. 75].

Canada, Hansard, House of Commons Debates, vol. 4, Sess. 2nd, 34th Parliament (November 1, 1989), pp. 5413, 4314 [para. 76].

Canada, Hansard, House of Commons Debates, vol. 5, Sess. 2nd, 28th Parliament (March 25, 1970), pp. 5469 [para. 75]; 5470, 5471 [paras. 18, 75].

de Smith, S.A., Judicial Review of Administrative Action (4th. Ed. 1980), p. 513 [para. 37].

Hansard - see Canada, Hansard, House of Commons Debates.

Hogg, Peter W., Constitutional Law of Canada (5th Ed. 2007), vol. 1 (2014 Looseleaf Update, Release 1), pp. 7-33, 7-34 [para. 19].

Jones, David Phillip, and de Villars, Anne S., Principles of Administrative Law (6th Ed. 2014), pp. 686, 687 [para. 37].

Mullan, David J., The Discretionary Nature of Judicial Review, in Sharpe, Robert J., and Roach, Kent, Taking Remedies Seriously: 2009 (2010), p. 421 [para. 37].

Pond, Richard W., Chief Justice W.R. Jackett: By the Law of the Land (1999), p. 220 [para. 75].

Sharpe, Robert J., and Roach, Kent, Taking Remedies Seriously: 2009 (2010), p. 421 [para. 37].

Counsel:

Glenn Solomon, Q.C., and Laura Warner, for the appellants;

Anne M. Turley and Catherine A. Lawrence, for the respondent.

Solicitors of Record:

Jensen Shawa Solomon Duguid Hawkes, Calgary, Alberta, for the appellants;

Attorney General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, for the respondent.

This appeal was heard on January 20, 2015, before McLachlin, C.J.C., Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Moldaver, Karakatsanis, Wagner, Gascon and Côté, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. The decision of the court was delivered on July 9, 2015, and the following opinions were filed:

Cromwell, J. (McLachlin, C.J.C., Rothstein, Moldaver, Karakatsanis, Gascon and Côté, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 65;

Abella and Wagner, JJ. (joint concurring reasons) - see paragraphs 66 to 85.

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