Schutz JA

14.58: Intervenor status on appeal
14.37: Single appeal judges

Case Summary

The Applicant, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Reform, sought leave to intervene in an Appeal to make submissions on the freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Freedoms, the Constitution Act, 1982, Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11. The Appeal concerned a Judicial Review of the City of Grand Prairie’s denial of anti-abortion advertisements on public transportation buses. The Court of Queen’s Bench held that the City’s decision was a reasonable limit on freedom of expression.

Schutz J.A. held that Rules 14.37(2)(e) and 14.58 permit a single Judge to consider an Application to intervene, and to impose conditions. Pursuant to Rule 14.58(3), the Intervenor may not raise or argue issues not raised by the other parties to the Appeal, unless the Court orders otherwise. Referring to recent authority, Justice Schutz stated that a single Appeal Judge may grant permission to intervene if the Applicant may be “directly and “specially” affected by the outcome of the appeal” or if they have “special expertise or a unique perspective relating to the subject matter of the appeal that will assist the Court”. The Court may further consider whether: the presence of the intervenor is necessary for the Court to properly decide on the matter; the intervenor’s interest in the proceedings are fully protected by the parties; the intervention will unduly delay the proceedings; there is possibly prejudice to the parties if intervention was granted; intervention will widen the dispute between the parties; and the intervention will “transform the court into a political arena”. Schutz J.A. noted that granting intervenor status is discretionary, and ought to be sparingly exercised.

Justice Schutz observed that the Applicant conceded that it was not “specially affected” by the Appeal. Instead, the Applicant argued that it should be granted intervenor status because of its special expertise in freedom of expression. After considering the Applicant’s proposed submissions, Justice Schutz held that the Applicant’s contribution would not be relevant, useful, different, or bring a particular expertise necessary to determine the issues on Appeal. The Application was accordingly dismissed.

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