The Supreme Court of Canada holds its first hearing in Quebec
Lawyers prepare to plead before the Supreme Court in Quebec
The Supreme Court of Canada, which is exceptionally holding hearings in Quebec this week, on Wednesday addressed the need for police officers to be provided with a breath sample processing device immediately when ordering a person to provide such a sample because& #x27;they suspect her of drunk driving.
The highest court in the land, which moved its proceedings outside of Ottawa for the second time in its history, heard the arguments of the appellant and respondent parties and then took the case under advisement. .
The Crown has argued that police officers have the right to order a breath sample even when awaiting a breath sample. x27;be in possession of an Approved Screening Device (ADA).
The delivery time of the ADA must be within a window of immediacy, argued prosecutor Nicolas Abran, presenting this as a reasonable period of time and less than the period required for the person arrested to be able to consult a lawyer.
The opposing party instead argued that the Criminal Code specifies that an offense is committed when there is refusal to provide a sample immediately and that the meaning of the word immediately must be interpreted strictly in order to avoid any violation. unjustified of rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, such as the right to have recourse without delay to the assistance of a lawyer in the event of detention or arrest.
It seems to me that in a democratic superpower, allowing a delay for administrative convenience [is not justified], said Me Felix-Antoine T. Doyon.
The case examined by the Supreme Court dates back to April 2017, when police officers arrested Me Doyon's client, Pascal Breault, near Quebec City, and asked him to provide a breath sample since they had received evidence that he had driven an all-terrain vehicle while intoxicated.
However, the police did not have an ADA to collect the breath sample and had to ask colleagues to bring them one. During the waiting period, which the peace officers initially estimated at about ten minutes, they gave the order in advance to the man to provide a sample, which which he refused. The police therefore quashed their application for an ADA and charged Mr. Breault under the Criminal Code with refusing to comply with the police order to provide a breath sample.
Mr. Breault, who was found guilty in Municipal Court, later appealed the decision and argued that an ADA should be available to police at all times, immediately. The Superior Court dismissed his appeal, but the Court of Appeal agreed with him and acquitted him.
The case is now before the Supreme Court since the Crown challenges the last judgment.
The Court of Appeal found that the order given by the police was invalid since Mr. Doyon could not immediately submit to the requested test.
Comment [Mr. Breault] could do this in the absence of an ADA? This was obviously impossible. How could he commit an offense by refusing to do something he couldn't? It was just as impossible, the decision reads.
Several Supreme Court justices questioning the Crown on Wednesday returned to this point.
< p class="e-p">I've always believed that no one is obliged to do the impossible, said judge Suzanne Côté.
How to obey an order it is not possible to comply?, added Judge Andromache Karakatsanis.
Crown counsel argued that the presence of x27;an ADA was not necessary to give the order to Mr. Breault and find that he had no intention of obeying it.
It takes some flexibility for a device to be delivered, added Mr. Abran.
He mentioned that it is rare that patrollers do not have no ADA with them, but that there are exceptional situations where their colleagues have mobilized them all. In these cases, the police request delivery of the device from their colleague who is closest, he continued.
Mr. T. Doyon, for his part, argued that a delay could be granted only to ensure proper use of the device and the validity of the test, but not for the non-availability of an ADA immediately.
Isn't it simpler to standardize the criteria for x27;immediacy?, he said, answering his own question in the affirmative.
In his opinion, police officers, in the exceptional cases where they do not have access to an ADA, should carry out a movement coordination test and all be trained to do so.
Thursday, the Supreme Court will consider a second case in Quebec, a challenge to Quebec's cannabis law which prohibits the possession of marijuana plants while federal law allows up to four.< /p>
The two cases heard in Quebec City are the first for new Justice Michelle O'Bonsawin, the first Indigenous person appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada
The visit of the judges of the highest court in the country to Quebec is part of an effort to make the Court more open and accessible to the public. In 2019, the first work took place outside Ottawa, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The magistrates will take advantage of their stay in Quebec to answer questions from the general public on the workings of the Supreme Court during an event at the Musée de la civilisation.