3.68: Court options to deal with significant deficiencies

Case Summary

This was an Application, pursuant to Rule 3.68, to strike a Statement of Claim for failure to disclose a reasonable cause of action and abuse of process.

The Plaintiffs were an RCMP officer posted in Jasper, Alberta and his spouse. At the relevant time, the Plaintiffs leased a home from the Government of Canada pursuant to the Canada National Parks Act (the “Act”), which, among other things, required that the Plaintiffs reside at the property for the duration of the lease. Despite the residence requirement imposed under the Act, the Plaintiffs, who were travelling for an extended period, enlisted house sitters to look after their home, whom they charged rent. The Defendants, one of whom was a fellow RCMP officer and one of whom was a Parks Canada employee, learned of the Plaintiffs’ arrangement and took steps to lodge formal complaints against the Plaintiffs. As a result of the complaints, the Plaintiff RCMP officer was subjected to a formal professional review and found guilty of unprofessional conduct. In their Claim, the Plaintiffs stated that the Defendants’ efforts to investigate their housesitting arrangement, and lodge the complaints, were beyond the scope of their authority and constituted a deliberate attempt by the Defendants to interfere with the Plaintiffs’ private affairs, harass the Plaintiffs and prompt the Plaintiff RCMP officer to resign or render him medically incapable of performing his duties. The Plaintiffs sought remedies against the Defendants on the basis of torts of breach of privacy, harassment and conspiracy. The Defendants applied to strike the Action.

Applying Rule 3.68, the Court considered each theory of recovery in turn, ultimately concluding that the facts, as pled, were insufficient to ground any of the alleged torts. Moreover, the Court observed that neither the tort of breach of privacy, nor the tort of harassment have been recognized by Alberta Courts, and that the Claim constituted a collateral attack on the RCMP’s internal conduct process and was therefore an abuse of process, as contemplated in Rule 3.68(2)(d). In the result, the Court struck the Action.

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