This report deals with charges of “provincial offences” which are offences under “enactments” (e.g. Alberta statutes, orders-in-council, regulations and municipal by-laws). True criminal offences are covered by the Criminal Code of Canada and some other federal legislation. A draft of proposed amendments to the Summary Convictions Act is attached.
This report recommends that the three categories of regulatory offences (mens rea, absolute liability, and strict liability) be retained and that tests for them are established as outlined in this report. The current defences for the above-mentioned offences should continue with the additional creation of the new defences for strict liability: officially induced error, and unpublished regulations and by-laws.
The following defences are to be developed by the courts without legislation: accident, automatism, compulsion, any other principle of common law which renders any circumstance an excuse or justification for a provincial offence, necessity, entrapment, impossibility, slightness and technicality of the offence, and obedience to authority. Insanity should not be a defence to a charge of either a strict liability or an absolute liability offence.