In R v. Turnbull,  NJ No. 54, the Newfoundland
and Labrador Provincial Court found that polar bears, Ursus
maritimus, are marine mammals, and therefore are not within
the jurisdiction of the provinces.
On March 17, 2012 Darrell Kirby Turnbull, in defence of himself
and his family, shot and killed a polar bear on the sea ice outside
of Seal Cove, near Meadow Island, Labrador. As a result a
Provincial Wildlife Officer charged him with "killing a polar
bear without a license (count 1), killing it outside of the open
season for killing polar bears (count 2), and taking a polar bear
in a prohibited area (count 3)" under the Wild Life
Act, RSNL 1990, chapter W-8, and the Open Season Big Game
Polar Bear Hunting Order, Regulation 26/07.
Relying on scientific evidence showing that polar bears spend
the vast majority of their time on the sea ice, the Court found
that polar bears, in pith and substance, are marine mammals and
under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government in
accordance with the Constitution Act, 1867. Further, and
because of the location of the kill, the Court found that the Crown
had not proven that the bear was killed within the territory of the
province. Following the general rule that the province's
territory ended at the low-water mark, the Court held that the kill
had occurred outside the "jaws of the land". Finally, the
Court concluded that Turnbull had exercised reasonable or due
diligence in complying with the law, when he decided to kill the
This decision challenges the Province of Newfoundland and
Labrador's jurisdiction over polar bears, in two fundamental
ways. First, by finding that polar bears are marine mammals and
under the complete authority of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the
Court has effectively precluded provincial involvement in polar
bear management. Second, since polar bears do spend much of their
time out on the ice, the jurisdictional authority of provincial
management is restricted further by the geographic limitations set
out in this ruling.
Although this decision is not binding on Courts outside of
Newfoundland and Labrador, it may prove to be persuasive, and could
undermine the present structure of polar bear management in Canada,
which currently accepts polar bears as terrestrial animals and
therefore under provincial and territorial jurisdiction. Indeed,
this decision supports the argument that the provinces have no role
in polar bear management, as this is entirely outside their
This decision comes at a time when Canada's domestic
management of the polar bear is increasingly subject to
international attention and scrutiny. The United States, for
example, has advocated that polar bears be moved from an Appendix
II listing to an Appendix I listing on the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which would
result in an essential ban in trade of polar bear products.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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