Wilson v. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (B.C.), (2015) 378 B.C.A.C. 58 (SCC)

JudgeMcLachlin, C.J.C., Cromwell, Moldaver, Karakatsanis, Wagner, Gascon and Côté, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateMay 19, 2015
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(2015), 378 B.C.A.C. 58 (SCC);2015 SCC 47

Wilson v. Superintendent (2015), 378 B.C.A.C. 58 (SCC);

    650 W.A.C. 58

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] B.C.A.C. TBEd. OC.031

Lee Michael Wilson (appellant) v. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and Attorney General of British Columbia (respondents)

(35959; 2015 SCC 47; 2015 CSC 47)

Indexed As: Wilson v. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (B.C.)

Supreme Court of Canada

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

October 16, 2015.

Summary:

An adjudicator upheld a three-day driving prohibition issued to a driver by a police officer at a roadside check. The driver had blown a "Warn" on an approved screening device. The adjudicator held that the "Warn" reading alone was enough to justify the prohibition under s. 215.41(3.1) of the Motor Vehicle Act. The driver applied for judicial review, arguing that s. 215.41(3.1) required more before a driving prohibition could be issued.

The British Columbia Supreme Court, in a decision reported [2013] B.C.T.C. Uned. 1638, allowed the application and quashed the decision. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and the Attorney General of British Columbia appealed.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal, in a decision reported at (2014), 356 B.C.A.C. 133; 610 W.A.C. 133, allowed the appeal, set aside the order below and reinstated the adjudicator's decision confirming the prohibition. The court held that the adjudicator's interpretation of s. 215.41(3.1) was reasonable. The driver appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal, holding that the adjudicator's interpretation of s. 215.41(3.1) was reasonable.

Motor Vehicles - Topic 7225.3

Licensing and regulation of drivers - Licence - Suspension of - Administrative or summary suspension (incl. impaired driving incidents) - British Columbia instituted a regime under the Motor Vehicle Act (B.C.) (MVA), known as the automatic roadside driving prohibition (ARP) scheme - Although the ARP scheme was provincial, it was triggered by a roadside demand for a breath sample under s. 254 of the Criminal Code - Approved screening devices (ASDs) were used to collect roadside samples - Under s. 215.41(3.1) of the MVA, when a driver registered a "Warn" or "Fail" on the ASD, a peace officer had to issue an immediate driving prohibition if the officer "has reasonable grounds to believe, as a result of the analysis, that the driver's ability to drive is affected by alcohol" - An adjudicator held that the "Warn" reading alone was enough to justify the prohibition under s. 215.41(3.1) of the MVA - On judicial review, the driver argued that s. 215.41(3.1) required more before a driving prohibition could be issued - The reviewing judge found that s. 215.41(3.1) was ambiguous and overturned the adjudicator's decision - The Court of Appeal reinstated the arbitrator's decision - The Supreme Court of Canada held that s. 215.41(3.1) was not ambiguous - The court stated that s. 215.41(3.1) "... explicitly links the officer's belief to the result of the ASD analysis. The provision states that the peace officer must have reasonable grounds to believe, as a result of the analysis , that the driver's ability to drive is affected by alcohol. The wording could not be clearer. The ASD analysis is the yardstick against which to measure the reasonableness of the officer's belief." - Further, the adjudicator's interpretation was consistent with the text, context, and legislative objectives of the ARP scheme - The adjudicator's interpretation was the only plausible one.

Statutes - Topic 1414

Interpretation - Construction where meaning is not plain - General principles - Ambiguity - General - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that "It is settled law that a genuine ambiguity only exists when there are 'two or more plausible readings, each equally in accordance with the intentions of the statute'" - See paragraph 22.

Statutes - Topic 2407

Interpretation - Interpretation of words and phrases - General principles - By context - British Columbia instituted a regime under the Motor Vehicle Act (B.C.) (MVA), known as the automatic roadside driving prohibition (ARP) scheme - Although the ARP scheme was provincial, it was triggered by a roadside demand for a breath sample under s. 254 of the Criminal Code - Approved screening devices (ASDs) were used to collect roadside samples - Under s. 215.41(3.1) of the MVA, when a driver registered a "Warn" or "Fail" on the ASD, a peace officer had to issue an immediate driving prohibition if the officer "has reasonable grounds to believe, as a result of the analysis, that the driver's ability to drive is affected by alcohol" - The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the assertion that because the ARP scheme was triggered by a Criminal Code demand for a breath sample, it was subsidiary legislation and had to incorporate the protections that were present under the Code - The MVA and the Code were two independent statutes, with two distinct purposes - They were enacted by two different levels of government, neither of which was subordinate to the other - Under the MVA, the demand for a breath sample triggered a regulatory regime that was wholly independent of the Code - See paragraphs 31 and 32.

Statutes - Topic 2601

Interpretation - Interpretation of words and phrases - Modern rule (incl. interpretation by context) - General principles - [See Motor Vehicles - Topic 7225.3 ].

Statutes - Topic 5001

Operation and effect - Enabling Acts - Subordinate legislation - General - [See Statutes - Topic 2407 ].

Cases Noticed:

Sivia v. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (B.C.) et al. (2015), 476 N.R. 3; 2015 SCC 46, refd to. [para. 2].

Goodwin v. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (B.C.) et al. - see Sivia v. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (B.C.) et al.

McLean v. British Columbia Securities Commission, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 895; 452 N.R. 340; 347 B.C.A.C. 1; 593 W.A.C. 1; 2013 SCC 67, refd to. [para. 17].

Alberta Teachers' Association v. Information and Privacy Commissioner (Alta.) et al., [2011] 3 S.C.R. 654; 424 N.R. 70; 519 A.R. 1; 539 W.A.C. 1; 2011 SCC 61, refd to. [para. 17].

New Brunswick (Board of Management) v. Dunsmuir, [2008] 1 S.C.R. 190; 372 N.R. 1; 329 N.B.R.(2d) 1; 844 A.P.R. 1; 2008 SCC 9, refd to. [para. 17].

Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Rex et al., [2002] 2 S.C.R. 559; 287 N.R. 248; 166 B.C.A.C. 1; 271 W.A.C. 1; 2002 SCC 42, refd to. [para. 20].

CanadianOxy Chemicals Ltd. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al., [1999] 1 S.C.R. 743; 237 N.R. 373; 122 B.C.A.C. 1; 200 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 22].

R. v. Clarke (C.), [2014] 1 S.C.R. 612; 456 N.R. 43; 316 O.A.C. 384; 2014 SCC 28, refd to. [para. 25].

Charlebois v. Saint John (City), [2005] 3 S.C.R. 563; 342 N.R. 203; 292 N.B.R.(2d) 1; 761 A.P.R. 1; 2005 SCC 74, refd to. [para. 25].

R. v. McIntosh (B.B.), [1995] 1 S.C.R. 686; 178 N.R. 161; 79 O.A.C. 81, appld. [para. 27].

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) et al., [2005] 1 S.C.R. 533; 334 N.R. 55; 2005 SCC 26, refd to. [para. 27].

R. v. Hinchey (M.F.) and Hinchey (B.A.), [1996] 3 S.C.R. 1128; 205 N.R. 161; 147 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 1; 459 A.P.R. 1, appld. [para. 27].

Information Commissioner (Can.) v. Canada (Minister of National Defence), [2011] 2 S.C.R. 306; 416 N.R. 105; 2011 SCC 25, refd to. [para. 27].

Reference Re Securities Act, [2011] 3 S.C.R. 837; 424 N.R. 1; 2011 SCC 66, refd to. [para. 32].

R. v. Wholesale Travel Group Inc. and Chedore, [1991] 3 S.C.R. 154; 130 N.R. 1; 49 O.A.C. 161, refd to. [para. 33].

Gordon v. R. et al. (2002), 166 B.C.A.C. 285; 271 W.A.C. 285; 100 B.C.L.R.(3d) 35; 2002 BCCA 224, refd to. [para. 34].

R. v. Bernshaw (N.), [1995] 1 S.C.R. 254; 176 N.R. 81; 53 B.C.A.C. 1; 87 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 36].

Sivia v. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (B.C.) et al. (2014), 352 B.C.A.C. 86; 601 W.A.C. 86; 307 C.C.C.(3d) 77; 2014 BCCA 79, refd to. [para. 37].

Buhlers v. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (B.C.) et al. (1999), 119 B.C.A.C. 207; 194 W.A.C. 207; 170 D.L.R.(4th) 344; 1999 BCCA 114, refd to. [para. 37].

Statutes Noticed:

Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 318, sect. 215.41(3.1) [para. 12].

Authors and Works Noticed:

British Columbia, Hansard, Debates of the Legislative Assembly, vol. 16, No. 1, 2nd Sess., 39th Parliament (April 27, 2010), p. 4871 [para. 38].

British Columbia, Hansard, Debates of the Legislative Assembly, vol. 36, No. 7, 4th Sess., 39th Parliament (May 3, 2012), pp. 11492 to 11493 [para. 39].

Driedger, Elmer A., Construction of Statutes (2nd Ed. 1983), p. 87 [para. 18].

Hansard (B.C.) - see British Columbia, Hansard, Debates of the Legislative Assembly.

Counsel:

Kyla Lee and Paul Doroshenko, for the appellant;

Robert Mullett and Tyna Mason, for the respondents.

Solicitors of Record:

Acumen Law Corporation, Vancouver, British Columbia, for the appellant;

Attorney General of British Columbia, Victoria, British Columbia, for the respondents.

This appeal was heard at Ottawa, Ontario, on May 19, 2015, by McLachlin, C.J.C., Cromwell, Moldaver, Karakatsanis, Wagner, Gascon and Côté, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada. Moldaver, J., delivered the following decision for the court, in both official languages, on October 16, 2015.

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