The meeting was called to order and chaired by Jeanne Flemming,
Director General, Investigations Directorate, Verification,
Enforcement & Compliance Research Branch, Revenue Canada. A
majority of the participants seemed to from Revenue Canada with
Justice Canada represented by Clyde Bond, the Canadian Wheat Board by
Cathy Pitfield and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada represented by Don
Adnam, Jane Armstrong, David Byer and Jon Dyck.
Following introductions around the table, Ms. Flemming asked Clyde
Bond to give an overview of the status of the criminal cases currently
underway. Clyde noted that in Manitoba, 63 people had been
charged with offences related to illegal export of grain while in
Saskatchewan, 123 individuals had been charged in eight separate
incidents. In Alberta, a total of 30 individuals had been
charged in two separate incidents. Of these 30, 4 pleaded guilty
and the other 26 were convicted. 25 of those convicted have
since appealed. Clyde noted, as well, that in some instances,
there was overlap between incidents insofar as some of the same people
were involved in more than one incident. Consequently, the
number of individuals actually involved would be less than the sum of
the individuals charged in individual incidents.
In connection with the charges laid in the Saskatchewan
demonstrations, which occurred in April and May of 1996, and which
involved some 60 individuals, Clyde indicated that there will be four
"test" cases occurring this fall and winter.
Originally this group was to be tried together, but because defense counsels
were unable to agree to a statement of facts for the entire group, the
charges were severed. The test cases will occur in Estevan on
November 5 and 6, 1996 and in Regina in January and February, 1997.
Clyde also mentioned the fact that the criminal charge against Tom
Jackson had been stayed and that the Harley Frank case involved native
issues and was therefore more complicated.
Mike Hadley of Revenue Canada provided a summary of the civil
actions being taken by Customs and Revenue Canada at this point.
Of the 211 cases currently under appeal approximately 170 involve
criminal charges under the Customs Act of exporting without a licence
(s.5) and failure to make a report in writing (s.3). The s.5
charge of exporting without a licence is, as a result of the Sawatzky decision,
no longer valid. This is problematic because the s.3 (failure to
report in writing) actions were added as an afterthought and have in
many cases not been pursued, i.e., the defendants have not been given
an opportunity to respond to these charges. Additionally,
warning letters by Customs had not specifically referred to a requirement
to report in writing. Consequently, there is now some question
as to whether the s.3 charge will stand up to a court challenge.
The difficulty with the s.3 charge is that exactly what constitutes a
report in writing has never been Gazetted or specified. The
Department of Justice acknowledges that although the courts have
commented favourable to the effect that there is clearly a s.3 offence
(in the Sawatzky case) the charge has never been the actual focus of a
trial and there is the possibility that it will not stand up to a
court challenge. Chris Mainella (Justice Canada) is apparently
optimistic, and Clyde Bond advised the meeting that he would be
reviewing Chris' approach in advance of this issue going to trial.
In addition tot he s.3 and 2.5 criminal charges, many of the cases
have also involved the laying of civil charges (ie. fines) under the
Customs Act. There was some discussion that Revenue Canada might
have to discontinue these civil proceedings, either because the defendants
had had no chance to respond to the s.3 charge, or on the basis that
the s.3 was not valid in law.