This decision involved the admissibility of statements made by four seal harvesters to DFO officers in the course of an investigation on charges related to illegally selling blue back seal pelts. In each case, the accused harvesters were contacted by telephone and then interviewed by Fisheries Officers in the front seat of DFO vehicles parked in front of their homes.
At a voire dire hearing to determine the admissibility of these statements, the court declined to rule them inadmissible as a breach of the Charter because it was not established that the harvesters were detained.
With respect to the issue of whether or not the statements were voluntary, the court noted that the Crown had the onus to prove the statements voluntary. In this regard, at trial the fisheries officer had difficulty recalling the the interviews that had occurred approximately ten years previously. In addition, there were no notes except for copies of the Charter type warnings that had been annotated and initialled. In this case some, but not all the answers were initialled. In the case of answers that were marked with a check mark but not initialled ("Do you want to speak to counsel"), the court was not prepared to accept a bare check mark as evidence that the warning had been given and waived.
On the basis of this evidence, the court ruled that the Crown had not satisfied the onus of establishing that the statements were voluntary.