Supreme Court

Criminal Law

Offences against the administration of law and justice


Actual influence was not necessary to find accused guilty of influence peddling

Appellant accused was originally charged with influence peddling. Charges related to accused’s use of government contacts, to help company sell water treatment systems. Company promised to pay commission to accused’s girlfriend, for all systems sold to First Nations buyers. Accused spoke to government officials, with aim of selling products in First Nations communities. At trial, accused was found not to have committed fraud upon government. Trial judge highlighted autonomy of First Nations communities in procuring systems, without need for government approval. Crown appealed successfully from this judgment. Majority of appeal court found that trial judge erred, in confining scope of analysis to transactions where government was party. Accused appealed to Supreme Court of Canada. Appeal dismissed. Applicable Criminal Code section applied to both actual and perceived government integrity. Subject offence was complete once benefit was demanded, in exchange for promise to exercise influence. Actual influence was not necessary to find accused guilty of offence. Although government did not have role that accused claimed it had, role could have changed. Accused had belief that sale of company’s products to First Nations could be facilitated by government. Appearance of government integrity was undermined.

R. v. Carson (2018), 2018 CarswellOnt 4487, 2018 CarswellOnt 4488, 2018 SCC 12, 2018 CSC 12, McLachlin C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Wagner J., Gascon J., Côté J., Brown J., and Rowe J. (S.C.C.); affirmed (2017), 2017 CarswellOnt 5574, 2017 ONCA 142, Janet Simmons J.A., G. Pardu J.A., and B.W. Miller J.A. (Ont. C.A.).

Law Times Poll

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced that real estate lawyer Doug Downey will be Ontario’s new attorney general. Do you expect Downey to take a substantially different approach to his portfolio than his predecessor in the role?