March 10, 1954


Amendment agreed to. Clause as amended agreed to. Clauses 600 to 622 inclusive agreed to. On clause 623-Fines on corporations.


CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Chairman, perhaps we should stop once in a while so you can write your initials beside the clauses. Clause 623 is rewritten from certain sections of the old code in such a way as to put a limit upon the 83276-182

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fine that may be imposed on a corporation where the offence is a summary conviction offence. Under the present section 1035 of the code the fine was in the discretion of the court, whether it was a summary conviction or indictable offence. The two types of offences seem now to have been separated. While it is still in the discretion of the court where it is an indictable offence, a limit of $1,000 has been provided where the offence is on summary conviction. Will the minister state why that limit was imposed. Does he think it is wise?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Yes, I think so. It hardly seems reasonable or fair in respect of a summary conviction matter, which may be a relatively trivial offence, the monetary penalty which can be imposed upon a corporation should be more than $1,000. It would not seem to me fair that on a summary conviction charge the judge or magistrate could impose a fine in the discretion of the court in excess of $1,000. That would be out of all proportion. It is only in those cases where a corporation is charged with an indictable offence that there is no limit upon the amount of fine which a court can impose when an accused corporation is found guilty.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Have there been any instances in the past under the code as it now stands where a court has imposed an unreasonable fine on a corporation? It seems to me there have been cases the other way, particularly under the Combines Investigation Act, where some of the fines imposed have been little -more than licence fees to carry on, although there may have been some changes made recently with respect to that act.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

When my hon. friend refers to the fines imposed upon corporations in the combines cases he is illustrating the case in point. The reason the fines were, as he puts it, little more than licence fees was that at that time the limit which the court had jurisdiction to impose was the amount which was imposed. They imposed the largest amount they could.

As my hon. friend will remember, apart from the clause we are considering now we took the limit off the penalties under the combines act and provided that they should be in the discretion of the court. The clause we are considering here is the same sort of provision in respect to indictable offences against corporations under the code. When this bill is passed a corporation convicted of an indictable offence can be fined any amount, without restriction, which the court sees fit.

Criminal Code

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

The point I tried to make before was that under section 1035, subsection 3, of the code as it now stands there was no limit as to the fine to be imposed in respect of either summary conviction or indictable offences. The minister says that in respect of the Combines Investigation Act the limit which was there before has by amendment been taken off. In other words, it has been established that fines imposed in connection with monopolistic practices shall be in the discretion of the court. So far as the Criminal Code is concerned it has been in the discretion of the court until now. Section 1035 of the code reads:

Any corporation, convicted of an indictable or other offence punishable with imprisonment, may in lieu of the prescribed punishment be fined in the discretion of the court before which it is convicted.

I do not see a limitation anywhere else in section 1035 or section 1035A. As the minister says, since he has been Minister of Justice a change has been made in the Combines Investigation Act moving in the other direction and taking off the limit. I ask again why in this instance a move is made in this direction, namely putting on a limit. The minister says that a matter dealt with on summary conviction may be trifling. He pointed out to me when I complained about the severity of certain sentences that had been imposed on individuals that those were maximum sentences and the court could have imposed a lesser sentence. Surely the same point applies here, except that here we have a maximum of $1,000.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

I am sure my hon. friend will agree at once that if in relation to summary conviction offences the ceiling of $1,000 was removed, which is what he seems to advocate, it would still be open to the court to impose the most trifling of penalties. The $1,000 is the maximum fine for summary conviction offences. The $1,000 he sees in this clause now is the maximum. The court can impose less than that, and it could impose less than that if there were no limit on the maximum. But the basis for setting a maximum of $1,000 is that this is a proper penalty for a summary conviction offence. The limit for a person under that heading is $500. We believe that a corporation should be charged more, that it should be charged double, but that there should be some limit to it.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

May I ask this question. Have there been any instances under the code as it now stands where, for summary conviction offences, fines have been imposed which were thought to be excessive?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Which were thought to

be ... ?

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Which were thought to be excessive; that is, were thought by the minister to be excessive, not by the corporation.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

I must say, Mr. Chairman, that I do not know of any fines imposed for summary conviction offences upon corporations. None have come to my attention. This present provision I think justifies itself in these terms. As I am sure my hon. friends of the opposition would agree, there is a great difference indeed between summary conviction offences on the one hand and indictable offences upon the other, and there should be a correspondingly wide difference in penalty. There is and there always has been a wide difference in the penalty imposed upon individual citizens for summary conviction offences on the one hand and indictable offences on the other. All that is being done in this clause is to continue that same distinction in the case of penalties upon convicted corporations. When one looks at many of the summary conviction offences he will find that $1,000 is quite a lot of money to pay for them. If there is any offence that is of a really serious character that can be charged as an indictable offence against a corporation, and is so charged, the corporation can be fined without any limit at all.

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CCF

Alfred Claude Ellis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Ellis:

The minister pointed out that the maximum fine for individuals, I believe, was $500 and for corporations $1,000.

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LIB
CCF

Alfred Claude Ellis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Ellis:

Does the minister feel that is a fair relationship, having regard to an offence committed by an individual on the one hand and an offence committed by a corporation on the other? Does he feel that twice the maximum would be a fair difference between the maximum fine on an individual and the maximum fine on a corporation?

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Yes, Mr. Chairman. I certainly think that is a fair basis in respect of summary conviction offences; and it applies only to summary conviction offences. Not only that, but the magistrate or judge who is imposing the fine, in fixing the amount, can take into account the resources of the corporation on the one hand or the resources of the individual upon the other. The only question is as to whether, for a relatively trifling or summary conviction offence, there should be a fine of more than $1,000. This clause affirms that there should not be. The real point under this penalty section, so far as corporations are concerned, is the penalty that should be imposed upon them for serious offences, indictable offences; and as far as that is concerned, there is no limit whatever.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

And there was before.

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CCF

Alfred Claude Ellis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Ellis:

What is the purpose of a fine, Mr. Chairman? The purpose of fining an individual or corporation is in order to impose some measure of punishment for an offence which has been committed, irrespective of the type of offence. The fine levied against a corporation, which might be a multimillion-dollar corporation, if it is set at $1,000, does not constitute any appreciable measure of punishment, no matter what the offence is. What I am trying to get at is the principle behind a fine. For an individual, a maximum of $500 might be something quite serious; but I do not think the minister would suggest that even for a summary conviction a maximum fine of $1,000 is going to make much difference to a large corporation.

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PC

Wallace Bickford (Wally) Nesbitt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nesbitt:

I have just one further comment to make on this matter of a maximum fine of $1,000. It would seem to me that it is a little bit low, for this reason. In the first place, while the minister said the more serious offences in the code were indictable offences-and I go along with that statement -nevertheless there is in the code one section at least as to which I can certainly envisage a situation arising where a corporation could commit an offence which could be most serious. I refer to clause 163, which states as follows:

Every one other than a peace officer engaged in the discharge of his duty who has in his possession in a public place or who deposits, throws or injects or causes to be deposited, thrown or injected in, into or near any place,

(a) an offensive volatile substance . . .

-and so on. Situations arise where large factories-and I am not referring again to the Saskatchewan river-make products which give off extremely volatile substances causing unpleasant odours. There has been complaint about them and nothing is done. They may be fined. I see that clause 163 deals with an offence that is punishable on summary conviction. It is quite possible that a corporation could cause a terrific amount of damage. Some large chemical plant or feed manufacturing plant could cause a great deal of damage and discomfort to a community; and a fine such as $1,000 would be, to use the vernacular, just peanuts.

I was just wondering whether the minister had considered that possibility. It is also a fact that many acts other than the Criminal Code say that if certain offences are committed, they are punishable on summary conviction. I cannot think of an appropriate example at the moment, not having them before me, but there are dozens of other statutes and acts which provide penalties on summary conviction which, when applied to a corporation, might be relatively small but 83276-182J

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when applied to a person might be very

serious indeed. I cite this clause 163 merely as an example of what could happen.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Does the minister not consider that possibly such clauses as 163 might be exempted? Surely it is possible that a corporation might be guilty of a very serious offence under clause 163. As is pointed out, the maximum fine of $1,000 does not seem to be appropriate in that case.

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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

The point which has been raised by the hon. member for Oxford is one with a great deal of merit. But I would think that the better way of dealing with it would be to provide in clause 163, "is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction or by indictment"-

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March 10, 1954