R. v. Latouche

In Constitutional Issues in Maritime Law on (Updated )

In this case the applicants were charged with not wearing life jackets while floating on an inflatable raft down the Elbow River in Calgary contrary to a municipal bylaw. The applicants challenged the constitutional validity of the bylaw saying that the bylaw encroached on Parliament’s exclusive jurisdiction over navigation and shipping. It was conceded that Parliament had jurisdiction over navigation and shipping but was argued that the incidental application of local law was permissible. The Court found that the pith and substance of the impugned bylaw was the promotion of safety of Calgarians and that the bylaw did not impair an essential or vital element of a federal power over navigation and shipping. Further, the Court said there was no incompatibility between the bylaw and the federal legislation. Accordingly, the Court held the bylaw was valid. (Note: In the view of the author, this is a questionable decision. Even if there was no incompatibility between the federal regulations and local bylaw, the local bylaw still frustrates the purpose of the federal law (uniformity) and ought to attract the paramountcy doctrine.)