RJR-MacDonald Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) [1995] 3 S.C.R. 199: Freedom of expression -- Commercial advertising -- Cigarette advertising banned -- Whether or not legislation validly enacted under criminal law power or under peace, order and good government clause -- If so, whether or not Act's provisions infringing s. 2(b) Charter right to freedom of expression -- If so, whether or not infringements justifiable under s. 1

 Present: Lamer C.J. and La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major JJ.

ON APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEAL FOR QUEBEC

Constitutional law -- Division of powers -- Charter of Rights -- Freedom of expression -- Commercial advertising -- Cigarette advertising banned -- Whether or not legislation validly enacted under criminal law power or under peace, order and good government clause -- If so, whether or not Act's provisions infringing s. 2(b) Charter right to freedom of expression -- If so, whether or not infringements justifiable under s. 1 -- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ss. 1, 2(b) --Constitution Act, 1867, Preamble, s. 91(27) -- Tobacco Products Control Act, S.C. 1988, c. 20, ss. 4, 5, 6, 8, 9.

The Tobacco Products Control Act (the "Act") broadly prohibited (with specified exceptions) all advertising and promotion of tobacco products and the sale of a tobacco product unless its package includes prescribed unattributed health warnings and a list of toxic constituents. The legislative scheme targeted three distinct categories of commercial activity: advertising, promotion and labelling. The Act, except for a prohibition on the distribution of free samples of tobacco products, did not proscribe the sale, distribution or use of tobacco products.

These proceedings began with two separate motions for declaratory judgments before the Quebec Superior Court. The appellant RJR-MacDonald Inc. sought a declaration that the Act was wholly ultra vires Parliament and invalid as an unjustified infringement of freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The appellant Imperial Tobacco Ltd. sought the same order, but only in respect of ss. 4 and 5 (advertisement of tobacco products), and ss. 6 and 8 (promotion of tobacco products). The two motions were heard together in the Quebec Superior Court which declared the whole of the Act ultra vires the Parliament of Canada and as well found it to be of no force or effect as an unjustified infringement of s. 2(b) of the Charter. The Quebec Court of Appeal reversed this judgment. The constitutional questions considered by this Court queried: (1) whether Parliament had legislative competence to enact the Act under either the peace, order and good government of Canada clause or the criminal law power, and (2) whether the Act infringed the right to freedom of expression protected by s. 2(b) of the Charter and, if so, whether it was saved under s. 1.

Held (La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier and Cory JJ. dissenting): The appeals should be allowed. The first constitutional question dealing with the legislative competence of Parliament to enact the legislation under the criminal law power or for the peace, order and good government of Canada should be answered in the positive. With respect to the second constitutional question, ss. 4 (re advertising), 8 (re trade mark use) and 9 (re unattributed health warnings) of the Act are inconsistent with the right of freedom of expression as set out is 2(b) of the Charter and do not constitute a reasonable limit on that right as can be demonstrably justified pursuant to s. 1 thereof. La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier and Cory JJ. would find that they constitute a reasonable limit. Given that ss. 5 (re retail displays) and 6 (re sponsorships) could not be cleanly severed from ss. 4, 8 and 9, all are of no force or effect pursuant to s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Division of Powers

(i) Criminal Law Power

Per Lamer C.J. and La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin and Iacobucci JJ. (Sopinka and Major JJ. dissenting): The legislation was validly enacted under the criminal law power.
Per Lamer C.J. and La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier, Cory and Iacobucci JJ.: The legislation was validly enacted under the criminal law power, and it was accordingly unnecessary to consider whether it fell under the peace, order and good government clause. The criminal law power is plenary in nature, defined broadly, and not frozen in time or confined to a fixed domain of activity. The legislation must not, however, be colourable; some legitimate public purpose must underlie the prohibition.

The Tobacco Products Control Act is, in pith and substance, criminal law. Parliament's purpose was to prohibit three categories of acts: advertisement of tobacco products (ss. 4 and 5), promotion of tobacco products (ss. 6 to 8) and sale of tobacco products without printed health warnings (s. 9). The penal sanctions accompanying these prohibitions created a prima facie indication that the Act was criminal law. The Act also has an underlying criminal public purpose directed at some injurious effect upon the public -- the detrimental health effects caused by tobacco consumption which were clearly demonstrated by the attorney general at trial.

"Health" is not an enumerated head under the Constitution Act, 1867, and may be dealt with by valid federal or provincial legislation depending on the circumstances and nature and scope of the problem in question. The protection of health is one of the ordinary ends of the federal criminal law power. The scope of that power includes, for example, the right to legislate with respect to dangerous goods, including health warnings on dangerous goods. This legislation was not colourable. Its purpose is to protect Canadians against the serious health hazards that flow from the consumption of tobacco. Parliament's decision to criminalize tobacco advertisement and promotion is a valid exercise of the criminal law power. The Act has the requisite "criminal public purpose" even though Parliament has not criminalized the "evil" ultimately aimed at but rather an activity ancillary to the "evil". A prohibition upon the sale or consumption of tobacco is not now a practical policy option, given the addictive nature of tobacco products, and the large number of Canadians who smoke. It would be absurd to limit Parliament's power to legislate in this emerging area of public concern simply because it cannot as a practical matter impose a prohibition more specifically aimed at the evil. The constitutionality of such legislation has recently been upheld in other cases.

The legislation, while not serving a "public purpose commonly recognized as being criminal in nature", is nevertheless a valid exercise of the criminal law power. The definition of the criminal law is not "frozen as of some particular time" and the criminal law power includes the power to create new crimes. The existence of exemptions within the legislation does not transform it from criminal to regulatory legislation. Broad status-based exemptions to criminal legislation do not detract from the legislation's criminal nature; they help define the crime by clarifying its contours.

Per McLachlin J.: Parliament may impose advertising bans and require health warnings on tobacco products under its criminal law power.

Per Sopinka and Major JJ.: Section 9 of the Tobacco Products Control Act falls within Parliament's power under s. 91(27) of the Constitution Act, 1867, but ss. 4, 5, 6, and 8 which prohibit all advertising and promotion of tobacco products and restrict the use of tobacco trademarks, do not. The criminal law power encompasses the right to legislate against dangerous foods and drugs, including tobacco products. Manufacturers of tobacco products are under a duty to disclose and warn of the dangers inherent in the consumption of tobacco products and failure to do so can validly constitute a crime.

The prohibition of conduct which interferes with the proper functioning of society or which undermines the safety and security of society as a whole lies at the heart of the criminal law. Matters posing a significant and serious risk of harm or causing significant and serious harm to public health, safety or security can be proscribed by Parliament as criminal. Lesser threats to society and its functioning are addressed through non-criminal regulation.

Care must be taken not to overstate the objective because its importance may be exaggerated and the analysis compromised. The objective of the advertising ban and trade mark usage restrictions is to prevent Canadians from being persuaded by advertising and promotion to use tobacco products.

The undesirability of this form of expression does not pose such a grave and serious danger to public health as to make it criminal. The Act lacked a typically criminal public purpose and is too far removed from the injurious or undesirable effects of tobacco use to constitute a valid exercise of the criminal law power. Those areas where ancillary activities have been criminalized, rather than the core activity itself, concern matters which have traditionally been subject to criminal sanctions and pose significant and serious dangers in and of themselves. Parliament could have criminalized tobacco use but chose not to.

Broad-based exemptions are a factor which may lead a court to conclude that the proscribed conduct is not truly criminal. The prohibitions on advertising cannot be upheld as a valid exercise of the criminal law power given the broad-based exemptions allowing for tobacco advertising in imported publications and given that the Act does not engage a typically criminal public purpose.

Charter Issues

(i) Infringement

Per Lamer C.J. and La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major JJ.: The impugned sections infringed freedom of expression guaranteed in s. 2(b) of the Charter.

Per La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier and Cory JJ.: The prohibition on advertising and promotion under the Act infringed appellants' right to freedom of expression under s. 2(b) of the Charter.

Per Lamer C.J. and Sopinka, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major JJ.: The prohibition on advertising and promotion of tobacco products violated the right to free expression. Since freedom of expression necessarily entails the right to say nothing or the right not to say certain things, the requirement that tobacco manufacturers place an unattributed health warning on tobacco packages combined with the prohibition against displaying any writing on their packaging other than the name, brand name, trade mark, and other information required by legislation too infringed this right. Section 7, which prohibits the free distribution of any tobacco product in any form, is closely connected to the law's objective and should stand.

(ii) Section 1 Analysis

Per Lamer C.J. and Sopinka, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major JJ.: The impugned sections were not justified under s. 1 of the Charter. La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier and Cory JJ. (dissenting) would have found the impugned sections justified and therefore saved under s. 1.

Per Sopinka, McLachlin and Major JJ.: The appropriate test in a s. 1 analysis is that found in s. 1 itself: whether the infringement is reasonable and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. No conflict exists between the words of s. 1 and the jurisprudence founded upon Oakes. The word "demonstrably" in s. 1 is critical: the process is neither one of mere intuition nor of deference to Parliament's choice. While remaining sensitive to the social and political context of the impugned law and allowing for difficulties of proof inherent in that context, the courts must nevertheless insist that, before the state can override constitutional rights, there be a reasoned demonstration of the good which the law may achieve in relation to the seriousness of the infringement.

Context, deference and a flexible and realistic standard of proof are essential aspects of the s. 1 analysis. The Oakes test must be applied flexibly, having regard to the factual and social context of each case. This contextual approach does not reduce the obligation on the state to demonstrate that the limitation on rights imposed by the law is reasonable and justified. The deference accorded to Parliament may vary with the social context but must not be carried to the point of relieving the government of its Charter-based burden of demonstrating the limits it has imposed on guaranteed rights to be reasonable and justifiable. To do so would diminish the role of the courts in the constitutional process and weaken the structure of rights. The civil standard of proof on a balance of probabilities at all stages of the proportionality analysis is more appropriate.
Courts of appeal, as a general rule, decline to interfere with findings of fact by a trial judge unless they are unsupported by the evidence or based on clear error. In the context of the s. 1 analysis, more deference may be required where findings are based on evidence of a purely factual nature whereas a lesser degree of deference may be required where the trial judge has considered social science and other policy-oriented evidence. Appellate courts generally are not as constrained by the trial judge's findings in the context of the s. 1 analysis as they are in the course of non-constitutional litigation because the impact of the infringement on constitutional rights must often be assessed by reference to a broad review of social, economic and political factors in addition to scientific facts.

The objective should not be overstated. The objective relevant to the s. 1 analysis is that of the infringing measure, since only the infringing measure must be justified. If the objective is stated too broadly, its importance may be exaggerated and the analysis compromised. The objective of the impugned measures, however, is somewhat narrower than the objectives of the wider legislative and policy scheme in which the Act is found. The advertising ban and trade mark usage restrictions are to prevent people in Canada from being persuaded by advertising and promotion to use tobacco products. The mandatory package warning is to discourage people who see the package from tobacco use. Both constitute important objectives. The critical question, however, is not the evil tobacco works generally in our society, but the evil which the legislation addresses.

The extent to which this Court should defer to the trial judge's findings depends on whether the findings relate to purely factual matters or whether they relate to complex social science evidence from which it is difficult to draw firm factual and scientific conclusions. Less deference should be accorded to the trial judge's finding that the complete ban on advertising was not rationally connected to the aim of reducing advertising-induced consumption. Much of the evidence adduced on this point was social science evidence predictive of human behaviour from which it was difficult to draw firm factual conclusions.

The impugned provisions mandating a complete ban and unattributed package warnings do not minimally impair the right to free expression. Under the minimal impairment analysis, the trial judge did not rely on problematic social science data, but on the fact that the government had adduced no evidence to show that less intrusive regulation would not achieve its goals as effectively as an outright ban. Nor had the government adduced evidence to show that attributed health warnings would not be as effective as unattributed warnings on tobacco packaging.

The causal relationship between the infringement of rights and the benefit sought may sometimes be proved by scientific evidence showing that as a matter of repeated observation, one affects the other. Where, however, legislation is directed at changing human behaviour, as in the case of the Tobacco Products Control Act, the causal relationship may not be scientifically measurable. In such cases, this Court has been prepared to find a causal connection between the infringement and benefit sought on the basis of reason or logic, without insisting on direct proof of a relationship between the infringing measure and the legislative objective. Here, no direct evidence of a scientific nature showed a causal link between advertising bans and decrease in tobacco consumption. A link, established on a balance of probabilities and based on reason, existed between certain forms of advertising, warnings and tobacco consumption. No causal connection existed however, whether based on direct evidence or logic and reason, between the objective of decreasing tobacco consumption and s. 8's absolute prohibition on the use of a tobacco trade mark on articles other than tobacco products. Section 8 failed the rational connection test.

A complete ban on a form of expression is more difficult to justify than a partial ban. The government must show that only a full prohibition will enable it to achieve its objective. Where, as here, no evidence is adduced to show that a partial ban would be less effective than a total ban, the justification required by s. 1 to save the violation of free speech is not established.

As a matter of reason and logic, lifestyle advertising is designed to increase consumption. Purely informational or brand preference advertising, however, has not been shown to have this effect. Several less intrusive alternative measures would be a reasonable impairment of the right to free expression, given the important objective and the legislative context.

Allowing Parliament to choose such measures as it sees fit by contrasting the importance of Parliament's objective with the low value of the expression at issue raises a number of concerns. First, to argue that the importance of the legislative objective justifies more deference to the government at the stage of evaluating minimal impairment, is to engage in the balancing between objective and deleterious effect contemplated by the third stage of the proportionality analysis in Oakes. Second, just as care must be taken not to overvalue the legislative objective beyond its actual parameters, so care must be taken not to undervalue the expression at issue. Third, a great deal of reliance is placed on the fact that the appellants are motivated by profit. Motivation to profit is irrelevant to the determination of whether the government has established that the law is reasonable or justified as an infringement of freedom of expression.

The requirement that the warning be unattributed pursuant to s. 9 of the Act fails to meet the minimum impairment requirement of proportionality. The government is clearly justified in requiring the appellants to place warnings on tobacco packaging. For the reasons given with respect to the advertising ban, a lower level of constitutional scrutiny is not justified in deciding whether it was necessary to prohibit the appellants from attributing the message to the government and whether it was necessary to prevent the appellants from placing on their packaging any information other than that allowed by the regulations.

Per Lamer C.J. and Iacobucci J.: The Tobacco Products Control Act did not minimally impair the appellants' s. 2(b) Charter rights. An attenuated minimal impairment analysis could unduly dilute the s. 1 principles as originally cast in Oakes and related cases creating the risk that Charter violations would be too easily justified, with the result that Charter values would be too easily undercut.

The Act was rationally connected to its goal of protecting Canadians from the health risks associated with tobacco use. Rational connection is to be established, upon a civil standard, through reason, logic or common sense. The existence of scientific proof is simply of probative value in demonstrating this reason, logic or common sense but is by no means dispositive or determinative. The Act, however, was not "social engineering". Agreement was expressed with the approach described by La Forest J. relative to appellate court intervention on legislative or social facts found by a trial judge.

Minimal impairment analysis requires consideration of whether or not the legislature turned its mind to alternative and less rights-impairing means to promote its legislative goal. Here, evidence related to the options considered as alternatives to the total ban was withheld from the factual record. In cases like these involving wide public interest constitutional litigation, government should remain non-adversarial and make full disclosure. The total prohibition on advertising (the full rights-impairing option) is only constitutionally acceptable if information is provided that such a total prohibition is necessary in order for the legislation to achieve a pressing and substantial goal. When the evidence is unclear whether a partial prohibition is as effective as a full prohibition, the Charter requires that the legislature enact the partial denial of the implicated Charter right. The tailoring required to meet minimal impairment was not significant and yet very necessary to the Act's being constitutional.

Section 9 of the Act, requiring the placing of unattributed health warnings, infringed s. 2(b) and was unjustifiable under s. 1 for the reasons of McLachlin J. Sections 4, 5, 6 and 8 should also be struck. Proof might exist for this total and absolute ban on advertising, but without it, there is no justifiable basis for this ban.

Per La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Gonthier and Cory JJ.: The infringement was justifiable under s. 1. Protecting Canadians from the health risks associated with tobacco use, and informing them about these risks, is a pressing and substantial objective. It meets the two broad criteria set forth in Oakes. First, its objective is of sufficient importance to override a guaranteed right. Second, it meets the proportionality requirements established in Oakes. These requirements are not synonymous with nor have they been superseded by those set forth in s. 1 of the Charter. The appropriate "test" is that found in s. 1 itself. The courts are to determine whether an infringement is reasonable and can be demonstrably justified in a "free and democratic society" and must strike a delicate balance between individual rights and community needs. This balance cannot be achieved in the abstract, with reference solely to a formalistic "test" uniformly applicable in all circumstances. The section 1 inquiry is an unavoidably normative inquiry, requiring the courts to take into account both the nature of the infringed right and the specific values and principles upon which the state seeks to justify the infringement. An important "synergetic relation" exists between Charter rights and the context in which they are claimed. The Oakes requirements therefore must be applied flexibly, having regard to the specific factual and social context of each case. A rigid or formalistic approach should be avoided in order to overcome the risk of losing sight of this relation.

The evidentiary requirements under s. 1 vary substantially depending upon both the nature of the legislation and the nature of the right infringed. Here, both these contextual elements were highly relevant to a proper application of the s. 1 analysis. The application of a "rigorous" civil standard of proof below resulted in a failure to take into account the specific context in which the s. 1 balancing must take place.

The nature and scope of the health problems raised by tobacco consumption are highly relevant to the s. 1 analysis, both in determining the appropriate standard of justification and in weighing the relevant evidence. Despite the lack of definitive scientific explanations of the causes of tobacco addiction, clear evidence does exist of the detrimental social effects of tobacco consumption. Overwhelming evidence was introduced at trial that tobacco consumption is a principal cause of deadly cancers, heart disease and lung disease, and that tobacco is highly addictive. The most distressing aspect of the evidence is that tobacco consumption is most widespread among the most vulnerable, the young and the less educated, at whom much of the advertising is specifically directed.

The significant gap between an understanding of the health effects of tobacco consumption and of the root causes of tobacco consumption raises a fundamental institutional problem that must be taken into account in undertaking the s. 1 balancing. Strictly applying the proportionality analysis in cases of this nature would place an impossible onus on Parliament by requiring it to produce definitive social scientific evidence respecting the root causes of a pressing area of social concern whenever Parliament wished to address its effects. This would have the effect of virtually paralyzing the operation of government in the socio-economic sphere. To require Parliament to await definitive social science conclusions whenever it wishes to make social policy would impose an unjustifiable and unrealistic limit on legislative power.

The Court has recognized that the Oakes standard of justification should be attenuated when institutional constraints analogous to those in the present cases arise. Although courts are specialists in the protection of liberty and the interpretation of legislation and are, accordingly, well placed to subject criminal justice legislation to careful scrutiny -- that is not so in the sphere of policy-making. Policy-making is a role properly assigned to elected parliamentarians who have the necessary institutional resources to enable them to compile and assess social science evidence, to mediate between competing social interests and to reach out and protect vulnerable groups. In according a greater degree of deference to social legislation than to ordinary criminal justice legislation, the courts recognize these important institutional differences. The Act in issue is the type of legislation generally accorded a high degree of deference and the considerations addressed in Irwin Toy and McKinney are applicable.

Expression, depending on its nature, is entitled to varying levels of constitutional protection and requires a contextual, as opposed to an abstract, approach. Although freedom of expression is a fundamental value, other fundamental values are also deserving of protection and consideration by the courts. When these values come into conflict, the courts must make choices based not upon abstract analysis, but upon a concrete weighing of the relative significance of each of the relevant values in our community in the specific context. Freedom of expression claims must be weighed in light of their relative connection to a set of even more fundamental or core values which include the search for political, artistic and scientific truth, the protection of individual autonomy and self-development, and the promotion of public participation in the democratic process. State action placing such values in jeopardy is subject to a searching degree of scrutiny. Where the expression in question is farther from the "core" of freedom of expression values, a lower standard of justification may be applied.

The harm engendered by tobacco and the profit motive underlying its promotion place this form of expression as far from the "core" of freedom of expression values as prostitution, hate-mongering and pornography. Its sole purpose is to promote the use of a product that is harmful and often fatal to the consumer by sophisticated advertising campaigns often specifically aimed at the young and most vulnerable. This form of expression must then be accorded a very low degree of protection under s. 1 and an attenuated level of justification is appropriate. The Attorney General need only demonstrate that Parliament had a rational basis for introducing the measures contained in this Act.

The reliance on the trial judge's finding need not be adopted. An appellate court generally may only interfere with the factual findings of a trial judge where the trial judge made a manifest error and where that error influenced the trial judge's final conclusion or overall appreciation of the evidence. The trial judge's factual findings in these cases, however, were not of the type that fall within the general rule of appellate "non-interference". The privileged position of the trial judge to appreciate and weigh adjudicative facts does not extend to the assessment of "social" or "legislative" facts that arise in the law-making process. The trial judge's factual findings concerning the connection between tobacco advertising and consumption were therefore entitled to minimal deference.

The legislative means chosen under the Act must be rationally connected to the objective of protecting public health by reducing tobacco consumption, not according to a civil standard of proof, but only to the extent that there was a reasonable basis for believing such connection. A rational connection obviously exists between a prohibition on the distribution of free samples of tobacco products under s. 7 and the protection of public health. One also exists between the prohibition on advertising and promotion of tobacco products under ss. 4, 5, 6, and 8 and the objective of reducing tobacco consumption. Notwithstanding the want of a definitive study connecting tobacco advertising and tobacco consumption, sufficient evidence was adduced at trial to conclude that the objective of reducing tobacco consumption is logically furthered by the prohibition on tobacco advertising and promotion under the Act. The large advertising budgets of the tobacco companies of themselves suggest that advertising not only helps to maintain brand loyalty but also to increase consumption and to induce smokers not to quit. The government's concern with the health effects of tobacco can quite reasonably extend to both potential smokers and current smokers who would prefer to quit but cannot. Three categories of evidence capable of substantiating this rational connection were disregarded at trial: internal tobacco marketing documents, expert reports, and international materials. The internal marketing documents introduced at trial strongly suggest that the tobacco companies perceive advertising to be a cornerstone of their strategy to reassure current smokers and expand the market by attracting new smokers, primarily among the young. The expert reports introduced at trial attest, at the very least, to the existence of a "body of opinion" supporting the existence of a causal connection between advertising and consumption. It is also significant that by 1990, over 40 countries had adopted measures to restrict or prohibit tobacco advertising.

For the reasons discussed throughout the s. 1 analysis, the legislative means chosen impair the right in question as little as possible, notwithstanding the fact that it imposes a complete prohibition on tobacco advertising and promotion rather than a partial one. The relevance of context is important in s. 1 balancing, particularly at the minimal impairment stage, because it does not require that the least intrusive measures be used but only that the measures employed were the least intrusive in light of both the legislative objective and the infringed right. The measures taken here to control tobacco products, given the legislative context and the fact that this profit-generated type of expression is far from the "core" of the freedom of expression, satisfied the Oakes minimal impairment requirement. While a complete prohibition on a type of expression is more difficult to justify than a partial prohibition, ample evidence was adduced at trial to demonstrate the government's decision that a full prohibition on advertising was justified and necessary. The measures were the product of an intensive 20-year period of experimenting with less intrusive measures with the cooperation of the provinces and expensive consultation with an array of national and international health groups. Over the course of this period the government adopted a variety of less intrusive measures before determining a full prohibition on advertising was necessary. Parallel developments in the international community have taken place. There has been overwhelming legislative and judicial acceptance of this type of prohibition by other democratic countries. Where governments have instituted partial prohibitions, tobacco companies have devised ingenious tactics to circumvent them. International health organizations support this kind of prohibition.

A proportionality must exist between the deleterious and the salutary effects of the measures. The legislative objective of reducing the number of direct inducements for Canadians to consume these products outweighs the limitation on tobacco companies to advertise inherently dangerous products for profit.

While a legitimate concern was raised with respect to the effect of governmental claims to confidentiality in constitutional cases, the action of the government in these cases was not fatal. The evidence was overwhelming that the prohibition was a reasonable one.

Compelling the tobacco companies to place unattributed health messages on tobacco packages does not infringe their freedom of expression. These messages cannot be taken as being an opinion endorsed by the tobacco companies. They are rather a requirement imposed by government as a condition of participating in a legislated activity. Even if they may infringe a form of expression protected by s. 2(b), they were fully justifiable under s. 1. The warnings do nothing more than bring the dangerous nature of these products to the attention of the consumer. They have no political, social or religious content. Any concern arising from the tobacco companies' being prevented from printing on their packaging the opinion that tobacco products are not harmful, even if it is a technical infringement of their rights, was easily outweighed by the pressing health concerns raised by tobacco consumption, especially to children. The Charter does not require the elimination of "minuscule" constitutional burdens, and legislative action that increases the costs of exercising a right should not be invalidated if the burden is "trivial". Here, the only cost associated with the unattributed health warning requirement was a potential reduction in profits; manufacturers of dangerous products can reasonably be expected to bear this cost.

Disposition

Per Lamer C.J. and Sopinka, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major JJ.: Sections 4, 8 and 9, and ss. 5 and 6 which are not severable from them, are of no force or effect under s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Iacobucci J., while declaring the impugned legislation inoperable, would have made a suspensive declaration of invalidity of one year and Cory J., had he found the impugned legislation inoperable, would have agreed with Iacobucci J. in this respect.

Per Lamer C.J. and Sopinka, McLachlin and Major JJ.: Sections 4, 8 and 9 of the Tobacco Products Control Act constitute unjustified infringements on free expression and cannot be severed cleanly from other provisions dealing with promotion and trade mark usage, ss. 5 or 6. Sections 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 are inconsistent with the Charter and hence are of no force or effect by reason of s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Per Iacobucci J.: A suspensive declaration of invalidity of one year should be made. Immediately striking down the legislation would permit the tobacco companies the untrammelled ability to advertise until minimally impairing legislation is drafted; the suspensive veto would permit the government to design such legislation while the status quo remains in force.

Per Cory J.: If the impugned legislation were inoperable, agreement was expressed for the reasons of Iacobucci J. that a suspensive declaration of invalidity of one year be made.

| Return to Topic Menu | Return to Main Menu |