Global Marine Systems Ltd. v. Canada (Transport)

In Judicial Review, Other Practice Topics on

Facts: The owner of the British flagged “Cable Innovator”, a specialized cable ship, sought judicial review of the Minister of Transport decision that the standby activities of the vessel were marine activities of a commercial nature as defined by s.2(1)(f) of the federal Coasting Trade Act. The vessel was based in Victoria, British Columbia fully manned and maintained in a 24/7 state of preparedness until it was called to service subsea fibre optic cables offshore the west coast of North America. Under the Coasting Trade Act, a foreign flagged vessel engaged in marine activity of a commercial nature in Canadian waters requires a coasting trade licence. In May 2017 Transport Canada advised the vessel owner that the standby activity in Victoria was a marine activity of a commercial nature and the vessel required a coasting trade licence, to which the owner responded that there was no commercial activity while the vessel was on standby. In June 2019 Transport Canada again advised the owner, via email, that the standby activities were marine activities of a commercial nature and that a licence was required and that this decision was final. The owner sought judicial review of the June 2019 email.

Decision: Application for judicial review dismissed.

Held: The Court held that the June 2019 email was Transport Canada’s decision that there was non-compliance with the Coasting Trade Act. The June 2019 email was therefore an administrative action that had a direct negative effect on the owner’s rights and interests and accordingly the email was reviewable. The standard of review is reasonableness. The Court found that Transport Canada’s decision that the vessel was engaged in marine activities of a commercial nature was reasonable as the vessel is in an active state of readiness while on standby to respond to the need for cable repairs, with the standby services and repair activities being intrinsically linked.