Keating v. Minister of Fisheries

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

This case involved judicial review of a decision of the Minister of Fisheries to deny a fisherman’s request for the reinstatement of his supplementary crab licence. After an appeal to the Atlantic Fisheries Licence Appeal Board, the Board recommended to the Minister that the licence be re-instated based upon extenuation circumstances such as the fisherman’s illiteracy. However, after receiving a memo from a deputy minister saying allowing the appeal would “create considerable criticism from licensed crab fishers in the area” he denied the appeal.

In allowing the application and remitting the matter back to the Minister to make a decision, the court reasoned that taking into account potential criticism from other fishers was an extraneous and irrelevant consideration (para. 67-8, 71). The court also allowed extrinsic affidavit evidence because it did “not introduce material facts that were not part of the record before the Minister” (60). The court also applied Jada Fishing (2002) 288 N.R. 237 (F.C.A.) (digested herein) with respect to its ability to review the decision of an appeal board in the context of a review of a decision of the Minister who considered the recommendation of that board. In addition the court refused mandamus based upon the decision of Carpenter Fishing Corp. v. Canada [1998] 2 F.C. 247 (F.C.A.) (digested herein).

Editor’s Note: With respect to the courts finding that potential criticism from other fishers was an irrelevant consideration, at paragraph 67 the court distinguished Comeau Sea Foods Ltd. v. Canada (1997) 1 S.C.R. 12. In particular, see the court of appeal decision of Linden J. in Comeau at paragraph 33 and paragraph 50 of the Supreme Court of Canada decision where the court said, “[w]here a Minister of the Crown is required by statute to exercise his or her discretion in reaction to immediate and pressing policy concerns, the Legislature can usually be taken to have intended that he or she be ultimately responsible to political authority.”