Chiasson v. Canada

In Fish Cases, Judicial Review/Crown Liability on (Updated )

This case involved an agreement reached between the Minister of Fisheries and the Association des Pescheurs de Poissions de Fond Acadiens Inc. ("APPFA") whereby the Minister would issue a snow crab fishing licence to the APPFA with an allocation of 1000 metric tons in exchange for an agreement from the APPFA to pay the Minister $1,500,000 to be spent on certain management related projects. On June 23, 2006, after the APPFA had paid the money to the Minister, the Federal Court disallowed a similar arrangement in the case of Larocque v. Canada (digested herein). At this point in time the Minister had already spent $477,326 of the funds. Subsequent to the release of the Larocque decision the Minister stopped using the funds and instead used public funds for the management of the fishery.

The court addressed several issues, including:

1) Whether the 30 day deadline for judicial review should be extended;

2) Should a declaration be made that the Minister is illegally holding funds; and

3) Availability of an order of mandamus for the return of funds.

With respect to the first issue (extension of the limitation period), after reviewing the applicable authorities the court granted an extension as the Crown would suffer no prejudice and "[f]iling an application for judicial review in April or May 2006, before the Court of Appeal had rendered its decision in Larocque, would have been a waste of judicial resources. The state of the law in April 2006 was such that Mr. Justice de Montigny held in Larocque, 2006 FC 694 . . . at the trial level, that the program for issuing fishing licences fell within the Minister’s authority under section 7 of the Fisheries Acts."

With respect to the second issue, the court made a declaration that the Minister "illegally used or sold 1000 metric tons of snow crab to finance departmental research activities and is illegally holding the proceeds of the 2006 sale". In doing so, the court also cited authorities for the proposition that the government must obey the law (para. 33).

With respect to the third issue (mandamus), the court declined to make an order as the applicants had other recourses available to them, namely commencing a tort action in a superior court seeking damages (para 30).