SCC Case Information
Erin Lee MacDonald, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen, et al.
(Nova Scotia) (Criminal) (As of Right / By Leave)
Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch) for information purposes only.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Criminal law Search and seizure Whether the appellant’s s. 8 Charter rights were violated Whether the Court of Appeal erred in making findings of fact not supported by the evidence nor consistent with the findings of fact made by the trial judge.
The appellant, Mr. MacDonald, was convicted of careless handling of a firearm, possession of a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public peace and possession without authorization of a loaded restricted firearm, contrary to ss. 86, 88 and 95 of the Criminal Code respectively. At trial, the judge essentially accepted the scenario presented by the Crown according to which a rude and intoxicated Mr. MacDonald, while entertaining some friends at his condo in downtown Halifax, was politely and repeatedly asked to turn down the volume of his music, only to finally respond to police at the door by opening it while carrying a loaded restricted firearm. A police struggle over the weapon ensued. On appeal, Mr. MacDonald argued, among other things, that the police conduct that evening constituted an unlawful search contrary to s. 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that the trial judge erred in concluding that the police action was justified in the interests of officer safety. The majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in part, but dismissed the ground of appeal relating to unlawful search and seizure. Beveridge J.A., dissenting, would have allowed the appeal, quashed the convictions and directed acquittals on all charges. In his view, the police conduct constituted a very serious breach of Mr. MacDonald’s rights and, despite the reliability of the evidence obtained and the state’s interest in a trial on the merits, the admission of the evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.