36001  The Queen v. Lacasse  (Criminal law – Sentencing)

On appeal from the judgment of the Court of Appeal for Quebec pronounced May 15, 2014.  The respondent pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing death.  On June 17, 2011, at about 4:00 a.m., the respondent, who was then 18 years old, was driving his car when it veered of the roadway on a curve at Sainte-Aurélie in the Beauce region.  Two passengers in the back seat died instantly.  An agreed statement of facts filed for sentencing purposes showed that the respondent had drunk several beers as well as vodka that night before taking the wheel.  The collision investigation report showed that the respondent’s vehicle was travelling at 130 km/h when it entered the curve, whereas the recommended speed was 75 km/h.  The vehicle skidded, then spun in the air several times before striking the ground three times.  The respondent was sentenced to imprisonment for six years and six months, and to a prohibition from operating any motor vehicle in Canada for a period of eleven years.  The Court of Appeal allowed the respondent’s appeal, reducing the sentence to imprisonment for four years and a prohibition from operating a motor vehicle for four years after the period of imprisonment.

35892  A.G. Canada, et al. v. Chambre des notaires du Québec, et al.  (Charter of Rights – Search and seizure – Taxation)

On appeal from the judgment of the Court of Appeal for Quebec pronounced March 21, 2014.  Section 231.2(1) of the ITA authorizes the Minister of National Revenue to require, by means of a simple letter, that any person provide information or documents that might be of assistance in the administration or enforcement of the ITA.  It applies, inter alia, to advocates and notaries.  Section 241 of the ITA requires that any information so obtained be kept confidential.  Should anyone refuse to comply with such a “requirement to provide documents or information”, the Minister can apply to the Federal Court under s. 231.7 for an order that the person in question do so.  In such a case, the court may grant the application if the information, or documents, being sought is not protected from disclosure by “solicitor-client privilege”, which is defined in s. 232(1) of the ITA as “the right, if any, that a person has in a superior court in the province where the matter arises to refuse to disclose an oral or documentary communication on the ground that the communication is one passing between the person and the person’s lawyer in professional confidence”.  However, the definition of the privilege excludes “an accounting record of a lawyer, including any supporting voucher or cheque”.  The privilege applies to notaries (s. 232(1), definition of “lawyer”). The Chambre des notaires brought an action — successfully — under art. 453C.C.P. for a declaration that ss. 231.2(1) and 231.7, together with the exception set out in the definition of “solicitor-client privilege” in s. 232(1), are unconstitutional in relation to advocates and notaries of the province of Quebec on the basis that they are contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Quebec Superior Court granted the motion for declaratory judgment and declared the provisions unconstitutional. The Quebec Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in part and uphelad the declaration of unconstitutionality in part.