3095-2899 Québec inc. v. Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales

(Quebec) (Criminal) (By Leave)


Provincial offences - Provincial offences — Dams — Statement of offence issued to ski centre for performing work on dam without prior ministerial authorization — Conviction — Whether Court of Appeal erred in interpreting expression “structural alteration” to include maintenance of stone face of dam, in applying expression to dozen rocks out of 30,000 to 40,000 that had tumbled downstream, and in disregarding impact of legislative debates, context of Act, provisions of Act and Regulation thereunder — Whether Court of Appeal could intervene on issue of assessment of experts’ credibility, under art. 291 of Code of Penal Procedure, in order to restore trial judge’s judgment — Whether Court of Appeal erred in finding that in this case there was reasonable apprehension of bias on part of Superior Court judge and that presumption of her integrity was rebutted on basis that, following her oral judgment, she had issued revised transcript of her reasons — Dam Safety Act, CQLR, c. S 3.1.01, s. 5 — Code of Penal Procedure, CQLR, c. C-25.1, art. 291.


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The applicant, a ski centre, performed what it characterized as maintenance work on a dam (moving rocks that had tumbled downstream in a lake). The applicant was issued a statement of offence under s. 5 of the Dam Safety Act, CQLR, c. S 3.1.01 (“DSA”), because it had not applied for or obtained prior authorization for the work from the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks.

A presiding justice of the peace from the Court of Québec characterized the work instead as a structural alteration of the dam within the meaning of s. 5 of the DSA, based on the evidence in the record, and convicted the ski centre of the offence provided for in that section. The Superior Court allowed an application for review of the trial judgment, and the ski centre was acquitted of the offence. The Court of Appeal set aside the Superior Court’s decision, restored the trial judge’s decision and convicted the ski centre.