R. v. Great Lakes Stevedoring Company Ltd., 2019 ONCJ 895 (2019-12-18)
Facts: The Applicants (Great Lakes Stevedoring Company Ltd. (“Great Lakes”) and its former vice-president, Quebec Stevedoring Company Ltd. and its founder and chairman, and Snider Marine Terminals Inc. (“Snider”) and its president) were charged with discharging a contaniment into the natural environment in violation of 14(1) of the Ontario Environmental Protection Act (the “Act”) and failing to report that discharge contrary to s. 92(1)(a) of the Act. The charges stemmed from a discharge of cement clinker which fell and was discharged on some neighboring properties near the Port Weller Marine Terminal (the “Terminal”). Great Lakes and Snider marine Terminals Inc. (“Snider”) both own a 50% stake in the Terminal, which is located along the St. Lawrence Seaway and on federal Crown land. Snider leases the lands from the Crown’s agent, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, and pays the rent to the agent. Great Lakes was contracted for stevedoring services to move the cement clinker through the Terminal. The Applicants argued that those sections of the Act do not apply on the basis of “interjurisdictional immunity” and “federal paramountcy”, as stevedoring activities on federally owned property come within the exclusive core of federal jurisdiction and application of the provisions would frustrate the purpose of the Canada Marine Act and Seaway Property Regulations.
Held: Application dismissed.
Decision: The Court outlined the principle of interjurisdictional immunity and reiterated that the doctrine protects the core of each head of legislative power in ss. 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act. In doing so, the Court rejected the Applicant’s argument that provincial authourities directed significant operational changes that ultimately undermined stevedoring activity, holding that the sections of the Act do not intrude on any matter that is indispensable for the loading and unloading of cargo from ships or removal of cargo from a port. All that is required is that the applicants load and unload cargo in a manner that does not discharge contaminants into the natural environment and report such discharges if they occur. On the federal paramountcy challenge, the Court noted that the Canada Marine Act’s preamble declares its purpose is to, among other things, provide for the commercialization of the St. Lawrence Seaway and also calls for a balance between economic objectives and other interests, including environmental concerns. The Court also noted that the Seaway Property Regulations charges the manager of the Terminal, as agent of the federal Crown, to harmonize those competing interests and that any activity produces prohibited results then the federal manager has jurisdiction to bar the activity or subject It to conditions to mitigate the results. As such there was no inconsistency with the Seaway Property Regulations as the permission of an activity by federal authourities does not mean the applicants were excused from compliance with valid provincial legislation.