Criminal law — Offences — Elements of offence

The applicant, Bryan Pascal Rancourt, and the complainant went out together for over three years. After the complainant decided to put an end to their relationship, she received a number of messages from the applicant, as well as anonymous letters and telephone calls. She complained about him to the police. As a result, charges of criminal harassment of and harassing communications to her were laid against the applicant by summary procedure.

The Court of Québec found the applicant guilty of both offences. Regarding the offence of criminal harassment, the trial judge found that the complainant had had subjective reasons to fear for her safety and that her fear was objectively justified, because a reasonable person would also have feared for their safety. The Quebec Superior Court allowed the applicant’s appeal in part by setting aside the verdict of guilty of criminal harassment. The appeal judge held that, while it is true that a person suffering from anxiety could easily fear for their safety, that did not mean that the complainant in this case had feared for hers. The respondent appealed that decision. The Quebec Court of Appeal unanimously allowed the appeal and restored the verdict of guilty of criminal harassment. In the Court of Appeal’s view, the Superior Court appeal judge had overstepped the limits of his power of intervention in concluding that the evidence did not show that the complainant had feared for her safety.

Criminal law — Offences — Sexual assault

The applicant, Mr. Plehanov, was charged with sexual touching contrary to s. 151 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C‑46, and sexual assault contrary to s. 271. The complainant, who was six years old at the time of the events, and her father testified at trial. The applicant acknowledged touching the complainant, but argued that he had caught the complainant while she was falling, and any touching had been accidental. The trial judge found the complainant and her father to be credible and reliable, despite differences in their evidence. He convicted the applicant of sexual assault, but acquitted him of sexual touching, finding that the specific intent required for that offence had not been proven.

The applicant appealed his conviction on the following grounds: the ineffective assistance of his trial counsel; the trial judge’s failure to declare a mistrial following the publication of a newspaper article about the applicant; and the verdict was unreasonable due to inconsistencies in the Crown’s evidence. The Court of Appeal for British Columbia unanimously dismissed the appeal. It held that the applicant had not proven the conduct which formed the basis of his allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court of Appeal also saw no merit in the applicant’s argument to the effect that trial counsel should have brought an application for mistrial or to re‑open the trial following the publication of the article, or that the trial judge should have raised the issue of his own accord. Finally, the Court of Appeal did not agree that the verdict was unreasonable, and held that it was open to the trial judge to make the findings of fact that he did.

Charter of Rights — Right of equality — Fundamental justice

Mr. Curtis had been employed by the respondent Bank of Nova Scotia for many years. After he left his employment there, he launched several proceedings against the Bank and also filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, alleging adverse differential treatment and termination of employment based on race and colour. In July of 2018, he filed a notice of application with the Federal Court, seeking an order for a writ of mandamus to compel the Commission to investigate his complaint and to appoint a neutral party as an investigator.

In October 2018, Mr. Curtis and the Commission filed motions for interlocutory orders. Mr. Curtis moved to be permitted to make significant amendments to his application, to add new forms of relief against the Bank and the Commission and adding several new parties. The Commission moved for an order allowing to be removed as respondent. The Prothonotary allowed certain amendments to be made to the application but disallowed proposed amendments involving relief against the Bank. The Commission was permitted to withdraw its motion without costs. Mr. Curtis was ordered to pay costs to the Bank. Mr. Curtis’ appeal from that decision was dismissed with costs. His further appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal was dismissed with costs.


Delta Hospice Society v. Sharon Farrish, Christopher Pettypiece, James Levin, Attorney General of British Columbia(B.C.)

Charter of Rights — Freedom of Association

Delta Hospice Society is a non‑profit society under the Societies Act, S.B.C. 2016, c. 18, with a Constitution and Bylaws. It operates a palliative care hospice and a support center for dying persons. The Fraser Health Authority is requiring palliative care hospices including Delta Hospice Society to make medically‑assisted dying services available unless they are a religious or faith‑based organization. Delta Hospice Society’s Board of Directors called an Extraordinary General Meeting to have the members vote on proposed changes to its Constitution and Bylaws that will bring it within the exemption for religious or faith‑based organization. In advance of the Extraordinary General Meeting, Directors of the Board denied 310 membership applications from persons whom they could not confirm are willing or reasonably likely to vote against providing medically-assisted dying services. Members of Delta Hospice Society petitioned the Supreme Court of British Columbia for relief under the Societies Act, challenging the membership application decisions. The court granted declaratory relief. In part, it cancelled the Extraordinary General Meeting and ordered that Delta Hospice Society’s Register of members must be rectified to include the names of the applicants who were denied membership. The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal.