Organizations Get Intervener Status in R v Grant

Contributors at have been closely following developments involving R v Grant since it was granted leave at the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) in June of last year. While the case is not scheduled to be heard until the end of April (and that date is merely tentative), some developments have arose in the past three weeks. Specifically, on January 2nd, Justice Rothstein granted four organizations leave to intervene on the case.

The organizations which have been granted leave are the federal government’s Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney General of British Columbia, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and the Criminal Lawyers’ Association (Ontario).

The case, which was recently discussed by Rebecca Ross in her December 17th post, involves an 18-year old male who appeared “suspicious” to police officers while walking near a school in Toronto’s Greenwood and Danforth area. The police officers approached and questioned him for about seven minutes. They asked if he “had anything that he shouldn’t.” Acting honestly, the young man replied that he was carrying a small bag of marijuana. After the police probed further, he admitted to having a loaded firearm. He was immediately arrested.

Deciding the case will likely force the SCC to re-articulate the bounds of the right to be secure against unreasonable search (s. 8 of the Charter), the right not to be arbitrarily detained (s. 9), and the circumstances under which evidence can be excluded under s. 24 (2). Critics of Court of Appeal’s decision in R v Grant (see (2006), 81 OR (3d) 1) have argued that the case creates a firearms exception to the s. 24(2) exclusion rule; that is, firearms have become nearly impossible to exclude from evidence, even in the context of a serious Charter breach.

Obviously, the case raises many important issues of public policy and the SCC’s decision on the matter must be made in a way which recognizes that it will have implications impacting the interests of more than merely the parties involved. Consequently, granting these organizations intervener status will assist the SCC in understanding the broad social and political issues at stake.

Presumably, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General of British Columbia will be supporting the position of the Attorney General of Ontario. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, on the other hand, will likely oppose the government’s position and argue that exclusion must be used as a tool to ensure law enforcement bodies investigate crimes while respecting the rights enshrined in the Charter.

All parties will be provided with limited space to make their arguments. The SCC has not yet decided whether to allow the interveners to present oral arguments and their written arguments will be limited to 10 pages. Nonetheless, their involvement will hopefully contribute to a decision which many of us at are eagerly anticipating.

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