Mckeil Marine Limited v. Canada

In Tug and Tow on (Updated )

Précis: An appeal from a decision of Transport Canada that the towing of two decommissioned vessels from British Columbia to Nova Scotia via the Panama Canal was not "coasting trade" was dismissed on the grounds the applicant did not have standing and the issue was moot.

Facts:The applicant was a Canadian tug and barge company. It wrote to Transport Canada requesting whether the towing of two decommissioned Canadian warships from British Columbia to Nova Scotia via the Panama Canal was “coasting trade” within the meaning of the Coasting Trade Act . Its concern was that the towage of the two decommissioned warships was to be done by an American tug company and that a license had not been obtained. Transport Canada responded that, in its view, the towage would not constitute “coasting trade” and no license was required. Thereafter, the towage was in fact performed by the American company. The applicant then brought this application before the Federal Court for a declaration that the towage did constitute “coasting trade”.

Decision:The application is dismissed.

Held:The applicant does not have direct standing to bring this application as it is not “directly affected” in the sense that the matter at issue affects its legal rights, imposes legal obligations on it, or prejudicially affects it in some manner. The applicant’s concern that the decision of Transport Canada has a negative precedential affect is speculative. The applicant further does not have “public interest” standing. Public interest standing arises where the case raises a serious justiciable issue, the party has a real stake or a genuine interest in its outcome and the proposed suit/proceeding is a reasonable and effective means to bring the case to court. Here there is a serious justiciable issue and the applicant has a real stake or genuine interest in the outcome but this is not an appropriate case to grant public interest standing. Even if the applicant had standing, the matter is moot as the towage of the warships has already been completed and a case with these particular facts is not likely to reoccur.