Occasionally, people and companies who cross paths with
securities commissions raise questions about the constitutionality
of the securities commissions' broad powers such as the right
to compel interviews, share information with other enforcement
agencies and impose punishments of various descriptions. The
Supreme Court of Canada has recently granted Jeremy Peers and
Ronald Aitkens leave to appeal a decision of the Alberta Court of
Appeal that held that charges under the Alberta Securities Act did not warrant a trial by
In R. v Peers, the Alberta Court of Appeal
heard an appeal from Peers and Aitkens. The issue on appeal was
whether Peers and Aitkens were entitled to a jury trial. Peers and
Aitkens had been charged with offences under the Securities Act,
which provides in section 194 for a maximum penalty of imprisonment
of five years less a day, a fine of up to $5 million, "or to
both". Section 11(f) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms grants a right to a trial by jury "where the maximum
punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more
severe punishment". Peers and Aitkens argued that the
potential punishment of five years less one day, plus a $5 million
fine, amounts to a "more severe punishment" which
generates a right to a trial by jury.
The Alberta Court of Appeal held that the purpose of section
11(f) was to entrench the traditional right to a trial by jury for
the most serious offences. The "purpose" of the five year
cut-off in section 11(f) is to distinguish those cases that are
deemed "serious enough" for a jury trial from those that
are not. The Court of Appeal noted that the maximum penalty of five
years less a day found in the Securities Act was deliberately
chosen by the legislature to avoid jury trials of complex
securities prosecutions. Despite the arguments put forward by Peers
and Aitkens, the Court of Appeal held that the criminal justice
system does not recognize an equivalency between imprisonment and
money. The Court of Appeal concluded that a maximum penalty
of "five years less one day" does not become a "more
severe punishment" just because some collateral negative
consequences are added to it.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
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