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Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Quebec (Attorney General), [1989] 1 S.C.R. 927

 

The Attorney General of Quebec                                                                                    Appellant

 

v.

 

Irwin Toy Limited          Respondent

 

and

 

Gilles Moreau in his capacity as President

of the Office de la protection du consommateur                                                             Intervener

 

and

 

The Attorney General for Ontario,

the Attorney General for New Brunswick,

the Attorney General of British Columbia,

the Attorney General for Saskatchewan,

Pathonic Communications Inc.,

Réseau Pathonic Inc., and the Coalition contre

le retour de la publicité destinée aux enfants                                                                 Interveners

 

indexed as:  irwin toy ltd. v. quebec (attorney general)

 

File No.:  20074.

 

1987:  November 19, 20; 1989:  April 27.

 

Present:  Dickson C.J. and Beetz, Estey*, McIntyre, Lamer, Wilson and Le Dain* JJ.

 

on appeal from the court of appeal for quebec

 

    Constitutional law -- Distribution of legislative powers -- Commercial advertising -- Provincial legislation prohibiting commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age -- Whether provincial legislation intra vires the provincial legislature -- Colourable legislation ‑‑ Impairment of federal undertakings -- Conflict with federal legislation -- Criminal law -- Constitution Act, 1867 , ss. 91 , 92  -- Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P-40.1, ss. 248, 249 -- Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-11, s. 3(c).

 

    Constitutional law -- Charter of Rights  -- Application -- Exception where express declaration -- Provincial legislation prohibiting commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age -- Whether provincial legislation protected from the application of s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by a valid and subsisting override provision ‑‑ Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , s. 33  -- Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. C-40.1, ss. 248, 249, 364 -- Act respecting the Constitution Act, 1982, S.Q. 1982, c. 21, ss. 1, 7.

 

    Constitutional law -- Charter of Rights  -- Freedom of expression ‑‑ Commercial advertising -- Provincial legislation prohibiting commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age -- Scope of freedom of expression -- Whether provincial legislation infringes the guarantee of freedom of expression -- Whether limit imposed by the provincial legislation on freedom of expression justifiable under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter -- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , ss. 1 , 2 (b) -- Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P-40.1, ss. 248, 249 -- Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act, R.R.Q., c. P-40.1, r. 1, ss. 87 to 91.

 

    Constitutional law -- Charter of Rights  -- Reasonable limits --Provincial legislation prohibiting commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age -- Whether provincial legislation too vague to constitute a limit prescribed by law -- Whether only evidence of legislative objective contemporary with the adoption of the provincial legislation relevant to justifying provincial legislation as a reasonable limit upon freedom of expression -- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , s. 1  -- Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P-40.1, ss. 248, 249.

 

    Constitutional law -- Charter of Rights  -- Fundamental justice ‑‑ Life, liberty and security of person -- Whether corporations may invoke the protection of s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- Meaning of the word "Everyone" in s. 7.

 

    Civil rights -- Provincial human rights legislation -- Freedom of expression -- Commercial advertising -- Provincial legislation prohibiting commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age -- Scope of freedom of expression -- Whether provincial legislation infringes the guarantee of freedom of expression -- Whether limit imposed by the provincial legislation on freedom of expression justifiable under s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter -- Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, R.S.Q., c. C-12, ss. 3, 9.1 ‑‑ Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P‑40.1, ss. 248, 249 -- Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act, R.R.Q., c. P-40.1, r. 1, ss. 87 to 91.

 

    In November 1980, the respondent sought a declaration from the Superior Court that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P-40.1, which prohibited commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age, were ultra vires the Quebec legislature and, subsidiarily, that they infringed the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.  The Superior Court dismissed the action.  On appeal, the respondent also invoked the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  which entered into force after the judgment of the Superior Court. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal holding that the challenged provisions infringed s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter  and that the limit imposed on freedom of expression by ss. 248 and 249 was not justified under s. 1 .  This appeal is to determine (1) whether ss. 248 and 249 are ultra vires the Quebec legislature or rendered inoperative by conflict with s. 3 of Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-11; (2) whether they are protected from the application of the Canadian Charter  by a valid and subsisting override provision; (3) whether they infringe s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter; and if so, (4) whether the limit imposed by ss. 248 and 249 is justifiable under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  and s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter; and (5) whether they infringed s. 7  of the Canadian Charter .

 

    Held (Beetz and McIntyre JJ. dissenting):  The appeal should be allowed.

 

(1)Sections 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act are not ultra vires the provincial legislature nor deprived of effect under s. 3 of the Broadcasting Act.

 

(2)The override provision in s. 364 of the Consumer Protection Act expired on June 23, 1987.

 

(3)Sections 248 and 249 infringe s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter.

 

(4)Per Dickson C.J. and Lamer and Wilson JJ. (Beetz and McIntyre JJ. dissenting):  Section 248 and 249 are justified under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  and s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter.

 

(5)Section 7  of the Canadian Charter  cannot be invoked by the respondent.

 

                                                                                         

 

(1)  Constitution Act, 1867 

 

    Sections 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act, as modified by or completed by the regulations, are, like in the Kellogg's case, legislation of general application enacted in relation to consumer protection and are not a colourable attempt, under the guise of a law of general application, to legislate in relation to television advertising. The dominant aspect of the law for purposes of characterization is the regulation of all forms of advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age rather than the prohibition of television advertising which cannot be said to be the exclusive or even primary aim of the legislation. The relative importance of television advertising and the other forms of children's advertising subject to exemption and prohibition is not a sufficient basis for a finding of colourability.

 

    Sections 248 and 249 do not purport to apply to television broadcast undertakings.  Read together with s. 252 of the Consumer Protection Act, it is clear that ss. 248 and 249 apply to the acts of an advertiser, not to the acts of a broadcaster. The challenged provisions, therefore, do not trench on exclusive federal jurisdiction by purporting to apply to a federal undertaking and, in so doing, affecting a vital part of its operation. Further, the importance of advertising revenues in the operation of a television broadcast undertaking and the fact that the prohibition of commercial advertising directed to persons under thirteen years of age affected the capacity to provide children's programs do not form a sufficient basis on which to conclude that the effect of the provisions was to impair the operation of the undertaking, in the sense that the undertaking was "sterilized in all its functions and activities".  The most that can be said is that the provisions "may, incidentally, affect the revenue of one or more television stations".

 

    Sections 248 and 249 are not in conflict with s. 3(c) of the Broadcasting Act.  This section does not purport to prevent provincial laws of general application from having an incidental effect on broadcasting undertakings. There is also no conflict or functional incompatibility between the federal regulatory regime applicable to broadcasters adopted by the CRTC and the provincial consumer protection legislation applicable to advertisers.  Both schemes have been designed to exist side by side. Neither television broadcasters nor advertisers are put into a position of defying one set of standards by complying with the other.  If each group complies with the standards applicable to it, no conflict between the standards ever arises.  It is only if advertisers seek to comply only with the lower threshold applicable to television broadcasters that a conflict arises.  Absent an attempt by the federal government to make that lower standard the sole governing standard, there is, therefore, no occasion to invoke the doctrine of paramountcy.

 

    Finally, having found that ss. 248 and 249 were enacted pursuant to a valid provincial objective and that they do not conflict with federal regulation, it cannot be said that because there are sanctions against a breach of these sections, they are best characterized as being, in pith and substance, legislation relating to criminal law.  The province has, under s. 92(15)  of the Constitution Act, 1867 , jurisdiction to enact penal sanctions in relation to otherwise valid provincial objectives.

 

(2)  Application of Canadian Charter

 

    For the reasons given in Ford v. Quebec (Attorney General), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 712, s. 364 of the Consumer Protection Act -- the standard override provision enacted by s. 1 of the Act respecting the Constitution Act, 1982, S.Q. 1982, c. 21 -- came into force on June 23, 1982 and ceased to have effect on June 23, 1987. Since s. 364 was not re-enacted pursuant to s. 33(4)  of the Canadian Charter , it follows that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act are no longer protected from the application of the Canadian Charter  by a valid and subsisting override provision.

 

(3)  Freedom of Expression

 

    Per Dickson C.J. and Lamer and Wilson JJ.:  When faced with an alleged violation of the guarantee of freedom of expression, the first step is to determine whether the plaintiff's activity falls within the sphere of conduct protected by the guarantee.  Activity which (1) does not convey or attempt to convey a meaning, and thus has no content of expression, or (2) which conveys a meaning but through a violent form of expression, is not within the protected sphere of conduct.  If the activity falls within the protected sphere of conduct, the second step is to determine whether the purpose or effect of the government action in issue was to restrict freedom of expression.  If the government has aimed to control attempts to convey a meaning either by directly restricting the content of expression or by restricting a form of expression tied to content, its purpose trenches upon the guarantee.  Where, on the other hand, it aims only to control the physical consequences of particular conduct, its purpose does not trench upon the guarantee. In determining whether the government's purpose aims simply at harmful physical consequences, the question becomes:  does the mischief consist in the meaning of the activity or the purported influence that meaning has on the behaviour of others, or does it consist, rather, only in the direct physical result of the activity.  If the government's purpose was not to restrict free expression, the plaintiff can still claim that the effect of the government's action was to restrict her expression.  To make this claim, the plaintiff must at least identify the meaning being conveyed and how it relates to the pursuit of truth, participation in the community, or individual self-fulfillment and human flourishing. Here, respondent's activity is not excluded from the sphere of conduct protected by freedom of expression.  The government's purpose in enacting ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act and in promulgating ss. 87 to 91 of the Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act was to prohibit particular content of expression in the name of protecting children.  These provisions therefore constitute limitations to s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter.

 

    Per Beetz and McIntyre JJ.:  Sections 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act, which prohibit advertising aimed at children, infringe s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter.  Sections 248 and 249 restrict a form of expression -- commercial expression -- protected by s. 2 (b) and s. 3.

 

(4)  Reasonable Limits

 

    Per Dickson C.J. and Lamer and Wilson JJ.:  Sections 248 and 249, read together, are not too vague to constitute a limit prescribed by law. Section 249 can be given a sensible construction, producing no contradiction or confusion with respect to s. 248. Further, ss. 248 and 249 do not leave the courts with an inordinately wide discretion. According to s. 248, the advertisement must have commercial content and it must be aimed at those under thirteen years of age, and s. 249 directs the judge to weigh three factors relating to the context in which the advertisement was presented.  Sections 248 and 249, therefore, do provide the courts with an intelligible standard to be applied in determining whether an advertisement is subject to restriction.

 

    In showing that the legislation pursues a pressing and substantial objective, it is not open to the government to assert post facto a purpose which did not animate the legislation in the first place.  However, in proving that the original objective remains pressing and substantial, the government surely can and should draw upon the best evidence currently available.  The same is true as regards proof that the measure is proportional to its objective. It is equally possible that a purpose which was not demonstrably pressing and substantial at the time of the legislative enactment becomes demonstrably pressing and substantial with the passing of time and the changing of circumstances. In this case, the question is whether the evidence submitted by the government establishes that children under 13 are unable to make choices and distinctions respecting products advertised and whether this in turn justifies the restriction on advertising put into place.  Studies subsequent to the enactment of the legislation can be used for this purpose.

 

    Based on the s. 1  and s. 9.1 materials, ss. 248 and 249 constitute a reasonable limit upon freedom of expression and are justifiable under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  and s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter.  The objective of regulating commercial advertising directed at children accords with a general goal of consumer protection legislation -- to protect a group that is most vulnerable to commercial manipulation.  Children are not as equipped as adults to evaluate the persuasive force of advertising. The legislature reasonably concluded that advertisers should not be able to capitalize upon children's credulity.  The s. 1  and s. 9.1 materials demonstrate, on the balance of probabilities, that children up to the age of thirteen are manipulated by commercial advertising and that the objective of protecting all children in this age group is predicated on a pressing and substantial concern.

 

    The means chosen by the government were also proportional to the objective. First, there is no doubt that a ban on advertising directed to children is rationally connected to the objective of protecting children from advertising.  The government measure aims precisely at the problem identified in the s. 1  and s. 9.1 materials.  It is important to note that there is no general ban on the advertising of children's products, but simply a prohibition against directing advertisements to those unaware of their persuasive intent.  Commercial advertisements may clearly be directed at the true purchasers ‑‑ parents or other adults.  Indeed, non-commercial educational advertising aimed at children is permitted. Second, the evidence adduced sustains the reasonableness of the legislature's conclusion that a ban on commercial advertising directed to children was the minimal impairment of free expression consistent with the pressing and substantial goal of protecting children against manipulation through such advertising. Where the government is best characterized as the singular antagonist of the individual whose right has been infringed, the courts can assess with a high degree of certainty whether the least intrusive means have been chosen to achieve the government's objective.  On the other hand, where the government is best characterized as mediating between the claims of competing individuals and groups, the choice of means, like the choice of ends, frequently will require an assessment of conflicting scientific evidence and differing justified demands on scarce resources which cannot be evaluated by the courts with the same degree of certainty. Thus, while evidence exists that other less intrusive options reflecting more modest objectives were available to the government, there is evidence establishing the necessity of a ban to meet the objectives the government had reasonably set.  This Court will not, in the name of minimal impairment, take a restrictive approach to social science evidence and require legislatures to choose the least ambitious means to protect vulnerable groups.  There must nevertheless be a sound evidentiary basis for the government's conclusions. Third, there was no suggestion here that the effects of the ban are so severe as to outweigh the government's pressing and substantial objective.  Advertisers are always free to direct their message at parents and other adults.  They are also free to participate in educational advertising.  The real concern animating the challenge to the legislation is that revenues are in some degree affected.  This only implies that advertisers will have to develop new marketing strategies for children's products.

 

    Per Beetz and McIntyre JJ. (dissenting):  Sections 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act are not justified under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  or s. 9(1) of the Quebec Charter.  The promotion of the welfare of children is certainly an objective of pressing and substantial concern for any government, but it has not been shown in this case that their welfare was at risk because of advertising directed at them. Further, the means chosen were not proportional to the objective. A total prohibition of advertising on television aimed at children below an arbitrarily fixed age makes no attempt to achieve of proportionality.

 

    Freedom of expression is too important a principle to be lightly cast aside or limited. Whether political, religious, artistic or commercial, freedom of expression should not be suppressed except where urgent and compelling reasons exist and then only to the extent and for the time necessary for the protection of the community. This is not such a case.

 

(5)  Fundamental Justice

 

    Respondent's contention that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act infringe s. 7  of the Canadian Charter  cannot be entertained.  The proceedings in this case are brought only against the company and not against any individuals. A corporation, unlike its officers, cannot avail itself of the protection offered by s. 7 .  The word "Everyone" in s. 7 , read in light of the rest of the section, excludes corporations and other artificial entities incapable of enjoying life, liberty or security of the person, and includes only human beings.

 

Cases Cited

 

By the majority

 

    Applied:  Attorney General of Quebec v. Kellogg's Co. of Canada, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 211; R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103; Ford v. Quebec (Attorney General), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 712; Devine v. Quebec (Attorney General), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 790; R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; considered:  Bell Canada v. Quebec (Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail), [1988] 1 S.C.R. 749; Attorney-General for Manitoba v. Attorney-General for Canada, [1929] A.C. 260; Multiple Access Ltd. v. McCutcheon, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 161; referred to:  Commission du salaire minimum v. Bell Telephone Co. of Canada, [1966] S.C.R. 767; Carnation Co. v. Quebec Agricultural Marketing Board, [1968] S.C.R. 238; Re C.F.R.B. and Attorney-General for Canada, [1973] 3 O.R. 819; Capital Cities Communications Inc. v. Canadian Radio-Television Commission, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 141; Nova Scotia Board of Censors v. McNeil, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 662; Mann v. The Queen, [1966] S.C.R. 238; Smith v. The Queen, [1960] S.C.R. 776; Reference Re Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alta.), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 313; PSAC v. Canada, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 424; RWDSU v. Saskatchewan, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 460; Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937); Switzman v. Elbling, [1957] S.C.R. 285; Eur. Court H. R., Handyside case, decision of 29 April 1976, Series A No. 24; RWDSU v. Dolphin Delivery Ltd., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 573;  R. v. Thomsen, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 640; R. v. Edwards Books and Art Ltd., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 713; Sunday Times v. United Kingdom (1979), 2 E.H.R.R. 245; Re B.C. Motor Vehicle Act, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 486; Alliance des professeurs de Montréal v. Procureur général du Québec, [1985] C.A. 376; F.H. Hayhurst Co. v. Langlois, [1984] C.A. 74; Saumur v. City of Quebec, [1953] 2 S.C.R. 299.

 

By the minority

 

    Ford v. Quebec (Attorney General), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 712; Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937); Switzman v. Elbling, [1957] S.C.R. 285; RWDSU v. Dolphin Delivery Ltd., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 573.

 

Statutes and Regulations Cited

 

Act respecting the Constitution Act, 1982, S.Q. 1982, c. 21, ss. 1, 7.

 

Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-11, ss. 3(c), 17(1)(a).

 

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , ss. 1 , 2 (b), 7 , 33 .

 

Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, R.S.Q., c. C-12, ss. 3, 9.1.

 

Civil Code of Lower Canada, arts. 987, 1001 to 1011.

 

Constitution Act, 1867 , ss. 91(27) , (29) , 92(10) , (13) , (15) , (16) .

 

Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P-40.1 [previously S.Q. 1978, c. 6], ss. 215, 248, 249, 252, 278, 282, 316, 364 [en. 1982, c. 21, s. 1 ].

 

Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I-23, ss. 2, 3.

 

Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act, R.R.Q. 1981, c. P-40.1, r. 1, ss. 87 to 91.

 

Television Broadcasting Regulations, C.R.C. 1978, c. 381.

 

Authors Cited

 

Boddewyn, J. J.  Advertising to Children:  Regulation and Self-regulation in 40 Countries.  New York:  International Advertising Association Inc., 1984.

 

Canada/Quebec.  Federal-Provincial Committee on Advertising Intended for Children.  The Effects of Quebec's Legislation Prohibiting Advertising Intended for Children, September 1985.  Ottawa:  Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1986.

 

Canadian Association of Broadcasters.  Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children, revised 1984.

 

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  Commercial Acceptance Policy Guideline.

 

Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Broadcast Advertising Handbook:  Acts, Regulations, and Guidelines on Broadcast Advertising. Hull:  Supply and Services Canada, 1978.

 

Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.  Renewal of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Television and Radio Network Licences.  Decision CRTC 79-320, April 30, 1979, (1979) 113 Can. Gaz., Part I, 3082.

 

Cox, Archibald. Freedom of Expression. Cambridge, Mass.:  Harvard University Press, 1981.

 

Emerson, Thomas I.  "Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment" (1963), 72 Yale L.J. 877.

 

Martin, Peter S. "Business Practices -- Title II of the Quebec Consumer Protection Act". In Meredith Memorial Lectures 1979, The New Consumer Protection Act of Quebec. Faculty of Law, McGill University. Toronto:  Richard De Boo Ltd., 1980.

 

National Association of Broadcasters, Television Code, 21st ed., 1980.

 

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  Advertising Directed at Children:  Endorsements in Advertising.  Paris:  OECD, 1982.

 

Québec. Assemblée nationale. Commission permanente des consommateurs, coopératives et institutions financières. "Étude du projet de loi no 72 -- Loi sur la protection du consommateur". Dans Journal des débats,  Commissions parlementaires,  le 12 décembre 1978.

 

Québec.  Office de la protection du consommateur.  The Consumer Protection Act:  Application Guide for Sections 248 and 249 (Advertising Intended for Children Under 13 Years of Age), 1980.

 

Scanlon, Thomas. "A Theory of Freedom of Expression". In R. M. Dworkin, The Philosophy of Law. London:  Oxford University Press, 1977.

 

Schauer, Frederick. Free Speech:  A Philosophical Enquiry. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1982.

 

Tucker, D. F. B. Law, Liberalism and Free Speech. Totowa, New Jersey:  Rowman & Allanheld, 1985.

 

United States.  Federal Trade Commission.  FTC Final Staff Report and Recommendation.  In the Matter of Children's Advertising, 1981.

 

    APPEAL from a judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal, [1986] R.J.Q. 2441, 32 D.L.R. (4th) 641, 3 Q.A.C. 285, 26 C.R.R. 193, setting aside a judgment of the Superior Court, [1982] C.S. 96.  Appeal allowed, Beetz and McIntyre JJ. dissenting.

 

    Yves de Montigny and Richard Tardif, for the appellant.

 

    Yvan Bolduc, Michel Robert, Q.C., Luc Martineau and Marie-Josée Hogue, for the respondent.

 

    Pierre Valois and Gilberte Bechara, for the intervener Gilles Moreau.

 

    Lorraine E. Weinrib, for the intervener the Attorney General for Ontario.

 

    Grant S. Garneau, for the intervener the Attorney General for New Brunswick.

 

    Joseph J. Arvay and Jennifer Button, for the intervener the Attorney General of British Columbia.

 

    Robert G. Richards, for the intervener the Attorney General for Saskatchewan.

 

    Louis-Yves Fortier, Q.C., and Michel Sylvestre, for the interveners Pathonic Communications Inc. and Réseau Pathonic Inc.

 

    Marc Legros and Diane Lajoie, for the intervener the Coalition contre le retour de la publicité destinée aux enfants.

 

//The Chief Justice//

 

    The judgment of Dickson C.J. and Lamer and Wilson JJ. was delivered by

 

    THE CHIEF JUSTICE AND LAMER AND WILSON JJ. -- This appeal raises questions concerning the constitutionality, under ss. 91  and 92  of the Constitution Act, 1867 , and ss. 2 (b) and 7  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , of ss. 248 and 249 of the Quebec Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P-40.1, respecting the prohibition of television advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age.

 

    The appeal is by leave of this Court from the judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal (Kaufman and Jacques JJ.A.; Vallerand J.A. dissenting) on September 18, 1986, [1986] R.J.Q. 2441, 32 D.L.R. (4th) 641, 3 Q.A.C. 285, 26 C.R.R. 193, allowing an appeal from the judgment of Hugessen A.C.J. of the Superior Court for the District of Montreal on January 8, 1982, [1982] C.S. 96, which dismissed the respondent's action for a declaration that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act were ultra vires the legislature of the province of Quebec and subsidiarily that they were inoperative as infringing the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, R.S.Q. c. C-12.

 

I -  The Relevant Legislative and Constitutional Provisions

 

    The relevant provisions of the Consumer Protection Act are ss. 248, 249 and 252, which provide:

 

248.  Subject to what is provided in the regulations, no person may make use of commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age.

 

249.  To determine whether or not an advertisement is directed at persons under thirteen years of age, account must be taken of the context of its presentation, and in particular of

 

(a)the nature and intended purpose of the goods advertised;

 

(b)the manner of presenting such advertisement;

 

(c)the time and place it is shown.

 

    The fact that such advertisement may be contained in printed matter intended for persons thirteen years of age and over or intended both for persons under thirteen years of age and for persons thirteen years of age and over, or that it may be broadcast during air time intended for persons thirteen years of age and over or intended both for persons under thirteen years of age and for persons thirteen years of age and over does not create a presumption that it is not directed at persons under thirteen years of age.

 

252.  For the purposes of sections 231, 246, 247, 248 and 250, "to advertise" or "to make use of advertising" means to prepare, utilize, distribute, publish or broadcast an advertisement, or to cause it to be distributed, published or broadcast.

 

    The relevant provisions of the Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act, R.R.Q., c. P-40.1, r. 1, are ss. 87 to 91  in Division II of Chapter VII, entitled "Advertising directed at children", which provide:

 

87.  For the purposes of this Division, the word "child" means a person under 13 years of age.

 

88.  An advertisement directed at children is exempt from the application of section 248 of the Act, under the following conditions:

 

    (a) it must appear in a magazine or insert directed at children;

 

    (b) the magazine or insert must be for sale or inserted in a publication which is for sale;

 

    (c) the magazine or insert must be published at intervals of not more than 3 months; and

 

    (d) the advertisement must meet the requirements of section 91 .

 

89.  An advertisement directed at children is exempted from the application of section 248 of the Act if its purpose is to announce a programme or show directed at them, provided that the advertisement is in conformity with the requirements of section 91 .

 

90.  An advertisement directed at children is exempt from the application of section 248 of the Act, if it is constituted by a store window, a display, a container, a wrapping or a label or if it appears therein, provided that the requirements of paragraphs a to g, j, k, o and p of section 91  are met.

 

91.  For the purposes of applying sections 88, 89 and 90, an advertisement directed at children may not:

 

    (a)  exaggerate the nature, characteristics, performance or duration of goods or services;

 

    (b)  minimize the degree of skill, strength or dexterity or the age necessary to use goods or services;

 

    (c) use a superlative to describe the characteristics of goods or services or a diminutive to indicate its cost;

 

    (d)  use a comparative or establish a comparison with the goods or services advertised;

 

    (e)  directly incite a child to buy or to urge another person to buy goods or services or to seek information about it;

 

    (f)  portray reprehensible social or family lifestyles;

 

    (g)  advertise goods or services that, because of their nature, quality or ordinary use, should not be used by children;

 

    (h)  advertise a drug or patent medicine;

 

    (i)  advertise vitamin in liquid, powdered or tablet form;

 

    (j)  portray a person acting in an imprudent manner;

 

    (k)  portray goods or services in a way that suggests an improper or dangerous use thereof;

 

    (l)  portray a person or character known to children to promote goods or services, except:

 

                            i.  in the case of an artist, actor or professional announcer who does not appear in a publication or programme directed at children;

 

                            ii.  in the case provided for in section 89 where he is illustrated as a participant in a show directed at children.

 

    For the purposes of this paragraph, a character created expressly to advertise goods or services is not considered a character known to children if it is used for advertising alone;

 

    (m)  use an animated cartoon process except to advertise a cartoon show directed at children;

 

    (n)  use a comic strip except to advertise a comic book directed at children;

 

    (o)  suggest that owning or using a product will develop in a child a physical, social or psychological advantage over other children of his age, or that being without the product will have the opposite effect;

 

    (p)  advertise goods in a manner misleading a child into thinking that, for the regular price of those goods, he can obtain goods other than those advertised.

 

Sections 3 and 9.1 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms provide:

 

3.  Every person is the possessor of the fundamental freedoms, including freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

 

9.1.  In exercising his fundamental freedoms and rights, a person shall maintain a proper regard for democratic values, public order and the general well-being of the citizens of Québec.

 

    In this respect, the scope of the freedoms and rights, and limits to their exercise, may be fixed by law.

 

Sections 1 , 2 (b) and 7  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  provide:

 

    1.  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

 

    2.  Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

 

                                                                          . . .

 

(b)  freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

 

    7.  Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with principles of fundamental  justice.

 

II -The Respondent's Declaratory Action and the Judgments of the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal

 

    In the fall of 1980 the respondent broadcast advertising messages which the Office de la protection du consommateur claimed were in contravention of ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act.  On November 21, 1980, following several warnings from the Office, the respondent instituted an action seeking a declaration that ss. 248 and 249 of the Act were ultra vires or alternatively inoperative.  In December of that year some 188 charges of contravention of the Act were laid against the respondent.  According to the respondent the charges were ultimately disposed of on the basis that the court which was seized of them lacked jurisdiction:  F.H. Hayhurst Co. v. Langlois, [1984] C.A. 74.  An interlocutory injunction was granted against the respondent on June 26, 1981 by Landry J. of the Superior Court.  That order was appealed.  A motion to suspend the injunction pending the appeal was dismissed.  A motion for contempt against the respondent and its vice-president was dismissed on the ground that the injunction order was too vague.  The penal, injunction and contempt proceedings are not really relevant to the issues in the appeal but they serve to indicate the extent to which the respondent has become embroiled in the application of the challenged provisions and its interest in bringing its action for a declaration.

 

    As appears from the judgment of Hugessen A.C.J. (as he then was), the principal contention of the respondent was that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act were colourable legislation in that, while purporting to apply generally to commercial advertising directed to persons under thirteen years of age, their true purpose or object, as indicated by the regulations and the evidence of the nature of children's advertising at the time the provisions were adopted, was to prohibit television advertising directed to persons under thirteen years of age.  Hugessen A.C.J. expressed the respondent's contention as follows at p. 97:  "The principal thrust of the plaintiff's [i.e. Irwin Toy's] attack is that this is colourable legislation.  While the prohibition appears to be aimed at all forms of advertising directed to children, the exemptions granted by the regulations and the realities of commercial practice together result in the legislation having for principal, and indeed almost for exclusive purpose the prohibition of televised advertisements directed to children."  In the Superior Court the respondent Irwin Toy adduced evidence to show that at the time the challenged provisions were adopted television was by a very large margin the advertising medium most used for children's advertising; that most of the other media used for children's advertising, such as magazines and inserts, were the subject of exemptions under ss. 87-91 of the regulations; and that the other media used for children's advertising that are not exempted from the prohibition in s. 248 of the Act are of such marginal and relatively little significance in practice as to make the prohibition in s. 248 essentially one, for all practical purposes, of television advertising alone.  Hugessen A.C.J. conceded that if this were indeed the fact the legislation would be a colourable attempt to prohibit television advertising, but he took the view, acting on judicial notice of other forms of children's advertising, that the challenged provisions of the Act, as modified by the regulations, were not aimed exclusively at television advertising.  Because of the submissions that were made in this Court with respect to his reasoning and findings on this issue we quote the pertinent passages of his reasons at p. 97 in full:

 

    There can be equally no doubt that the attacked legislation affects and is intended to affect television advertising.  The words of section 249, quoted above, make this quite plain.  Under the regulations, a number of other forms of advertising, notably that appearing in magazines specifically directed on children, are exempted from the prohibition.  Plaintiff points out that television and children's magazines are the two principal vehicles which it uses for advertising aimed at children and that the exemption of the latter means that the legislation is directed solely at the former.  Plaintiff also points out that insofar as its business is concerned, there are no other practical advertising vehicles and that it does not use radio, billboards, direct mail or any of the various other possible supports for its publicity.

 

    The argument is ingenious but seems to me to be based on a fallacious generalisation drawn from plaintiff's particular situation and practice.  While it is no doubt true that plaintiff and other toy manufacturers have made heavy use of television for their advertising, it is certainly not the case that all advertising directed at children employs this medium.  There is evidence before me of other vehicles being employed by other manufacturers who have a particular interest in the children's market and, even in the absence of such evidence,  I believe I could take judicial notice of the fact that sporting goods, candy bars, breakfast cereals, fast foods, soft drinks and a whole range of other goods and services are promoted by means of advertisements directed wholly or largely at children.  The vehicles employed can range all the way from billboards in hockey rinks or sports stadiums to giveaways in the form of hats or cards with pictures of athletes, to competitions or colouring books.  With very few exceptions, all are covered by the prohibition in the legislation and are not exempted by the regulations.  Hence the impugned sections are not aimed exclusively at television advertising.

 

    Hugessen A.C.J. held that the purpose of the sections of the Act dealing with advertising, including the challenged provisions, was a valid one of consumer protection falling within provincial legislative jurisdiction under heads 13 and 16 of s. 92  of the Constitution Act, 1867 .  He indicated the relationship of the challenged provisions to the general purpose of the provisions respecting advertising in Title II as follows at p. 97:

 

    As its name implies, the Consumer Protection Act has for its purpose the protection of the consumer against questionable business practices.  Amongst such practices are misleading, deceptive or unfair advertising.  The whole of Title II of the Act, comprising almost forty sections including the two presently under attack, deals with this subject.  The evident aim and purpose is to make it more difficult for consumers to be led into making unwise bargains or to be subjected to undue pressures.  It is not unreasonable for the Legislature to view children as being a particularly vulnerable target in this respect either as purchasers and consumers in their own right or as the means through which advertisers can bring pressure to bear upon their parents.  Legislation aimed at regulating and controlling such advertising has a perfectly proper provincial purpose and is within the powers assigned to the Legislature under section 92  paragr. 13 and paragr. 16 of the B.N.A. Act.

 

    With respect to the contention that the challenged provisions were inoperative because they had the effect of preventing the plaintiff from advertising by means of television, a matter within exclusive federal jurisdiction, Hugessen A.C.J., referring to the distinction between the message and the medium, applied the judgment of this Court in Attorney General of Quebec v. Kellogg's Co. of Canada, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 211, in which the Court distinguished between a regulation of television advertising applied to an advertiser and one applied to a television station or broadcast undertaking.  Hugessen A.C.J. found it unnecessary to deal with the contention raised in the pleadings but not pressed in argument before him that the challenged provisions infringed the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.  He also summarily rejected a contention that the challenged provisions infringed the respondent's right to "commercial speech".

 

    The respondent inscribed in appeal on January 14, 1982 from the judgment of the Superior Court dismissing its action for a declaration.  On November 6, 1984, it applied to the Court of Appeal for leave to amend its declaration and inscription in appeal to invoke the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , which entered into force after the judgment of the Superior Court, and to seek, in addition to the declaration already prayed for, a declaration that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act were inoperative as infringing the freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2 (b) of the Charter  and a declaration that the standard override provision in s. 364 of the Consumer Protection Act, purporting to exclude the application of ss. 2  and 7  to 15  of the Charter , was ultra vires, as not being in conformity with the authority conferred by s. 33  of the Charter .  Leave to amend was granted by the Court of Appeal, and on December 13, 1984 the respondent's declaration was amended accordingly.  The Court of Appeal also invited the parties to submit material that would be relevant to the question of justification under s. 1  of the Charter , should the challenged provisions be found to infringe s. 2 (b) thereof, and this was done.

 

    Like the Superior Court, the Court of Appeal disposed of the issue of validity under the division of powers on the basis of the judgment of this Court in Kellogg's, holding, without elaboration, that the case at bar was indistinguishable from Kellogg's.  On the issue of validity of the override provision in s. 364 of the Consumer Protection Act, the Court applied its judgment in Alliance des professeurs de Montréal v. Procureur général du Québec, [1985] C.A. 376, in which it had held that the standard override provision enacted by An Act respecting the Constitution Act, 1982, and subsequent statutes and purporting to exclude the application of s. 2  and ss. 7  to 15  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  was ultra vires as not being in conformity with the authority conferred by s. 33  of the Charter .  On the question of the alleged limitation of the freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2 (b) of the Charter  the Court held that freedom of expression extended to commercial expression, that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act infringed freedom of expression and that the limit imposed on freedom of expression by these provisions was not justified under s. 1  of the Charter .  It was on this last point that the members of the Court of Appeal differed.  The majority (Kaufman and Jacques JJ.A.) were of the view that the s. 1  materials did not show, in respect of television advertising directed at children between the ages of six and thirteen, a sufficiently important legislative purpose to justify an interference with a guaranteed freedom.  While they accepted that the materials established that advertising had a harmful effect on children of six years of age and under, they were of the opinion that it was not shown to have any harmful effect on other children within the contemplated age group so long as the product advertised was not injurious and the advertising was fair.  Vallerand J.A., dissenting on this issue, agreed with his colleagues that the s. 1  materials did not clearly establish the allegedly harmful effect of television advertising directed at persons under 13 years of age but he was of the view that there were grounds for a serious concern about the possibility of such harm and that this concern made the legislative purpose behind the challenged provisions of sufficient importance to meet the first branch of the test under s. 1  laid down in R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103.  Vallerand J.A. was further of the view that the means chosen -- the total prohibition of television advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age -- was the only effective means of dealing with the problem and that it was proportionate to the purpose served.  Vallerand J.A. further rejected the contention that the challenged provisions were void for vagueness.  In the result, the appeal from the judgment of the Superior Court was allowed and ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act declared to be inoperative.

 

III -  The Constitutional Questions and the Issues in the Appeal

 

    On the appeal to this Court the following constitutional questions were stated by Beetz J. in his order of January 30, 1987:

 

1.Is s. 364 of the Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P-40.1, added by s. 1 of An Act respecting the Constitution Act, 1982, S.Q. 1982, c. 21, inconsistent with the provisions of s. 33  of the Constitution Act, 1982  and so ultra vires and of no force or effect to the extent of the inconsistency pursuant to s. 52(1) of the latter Act?

 

2.If question 1 is answered in the affirmative, do ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act infringe the rights, freedoms and guarantees contained in ss. 2 (b) and 7  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , and if so, can those sections be justified under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ?

 

3.Are ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act ultra vires the legislature of the province of Quebec, or are they to some degree of no force or effect under s. 3 of the Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-11?

 

    The issues in the appeal in the order in which we propose to address them, to the extent necessary for the disposition of the appeal, may be summarized as follows:

 

1.Are ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act ultra vires the legislature of the province of Quebec or rendered inoperative by conflict with s. 3 of the Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-11?

 

2.Are ss. 248 and 249 protected from the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  by a valid and subsisting override provision enacted pursuant to s. 33  of the Charter ?

 

3.Do ss. 248 and 249 infringe the freedom of expression guaranteed by s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms?

 

4.If so, is the limit imposed by ss. 248 and 249 on freedom of expression justified under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  and s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter?

 

5.Do ss. 248 and 249 infringe s. 7  of the Canadian Charter  by creating a liability to deprivation of liberty in terms which are impermissibly vague, contrary to a principle of fundamental justice and to s. 1  of the Charter ?

 

    This appeal was heard at the same time as the appeals in Ford v. Quebec (Attorney General), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 712, and Devine v. Quebec (Attorney General), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 790.  The issues respecting the validity of the standard override provision and whether freedom of expression extends to commercial expression are common to the three appeals.  It is convenient, however, in this appeal to begin with consideration of the question of the validity or operative effect of ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act under the division of powers because that issue logically precedes a consideration of whether the challenged provisions infringe the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms .  It was the issue before the Superior Court and the issue that was disposed of first in the Court of Appeal.  It was the issue on which the television broadcast interveners Pathonic Communications Inc. and Réseau Pathonic Inc. (hereinafter referred to as "Pathonic") were granted leave to intervene.  While the disposition of this issue by the Court of Appeal was not, of course, a ground of appeal by the Attorney General of Quebec, he addressed submissions to this issue, as did the respondent and the interveners.

 

IV  -Whether ss. 248 and 249 are ultra vires the Legislature of the Province of Quebec

 

    Four separate issues emerge from the argument in this Court with respect to the validity or operative effect of ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act:  (a) whether these provisions are distinguishable, in so far as their constitutional characterization is concerned, from the challenged provision of the advertising regulations under the Consumer Protection Act that was characterized by this Court in Kellogg's, supra, as having a valid provincial purpose; (b) whether, as contended by Pathonic, their effect on a television broadcast undertaking is such as to render them, despite the judgment of the Court in Kellogg's, inoperative in so far as television advertising is concerned; (c) whether they are practically and functionally incompatible with the regulatory scheme put into place by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) pursuant to the Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-11; and (d) whether they amount to an invasion of the federal criminal law power.  We discuss each of these issues in turn.

 

A.  The Constitutional Characterization of ss. 248 and 249

 

    In Kellogg's, the challenged provision was s. 11.53 of Division XI-A, entitled "Advertising intended for children", of the General Regulations adopted pursuant to the authority conferred on the Lieutenant-Governor in Council by s. 102(o) of the Consumer Protection Act to make regulations "to determine standards for advertising goods, whether or not they are the object of a contract, or credit, especially all advertising intended for children".   Section 11.53 of the regulations provided:

 

11.53  No one shall prepare, use, publish or cause to be published in Quebec advertising intended for children which:

 

                                                                          . . .

 

(n) employs cartoons;

 

    The Kellogg companies were charged with breaches of this provision in connection with certain television advertisements and an injunction was sought against them to restrain further infractions.  An injunction was granted by the Superior Court, [1974] C.S. 498, but an appeal from this judgment was allowed by a majority of the Court of Appeal (Tremblay C.J. and Montgomery J.A.), [1975] C.A. 518, who held that since the content of television broadcasting fell within exclusive federal jurisdiction provincial legislation with respect to such content was inoperative, citing the judgment of this Court in Commission du salaire minimum v. Bell Telephone Co. of Canada, [1966] S.C.R. 767, in support of this conclusion.  Turgeon J.A., dissenting, applied the distinction between legislation in relation to a matter and legislation incidentally affecting a matter.  He held the challenged regulation and the law under which it was adopted to be within provincial jurisdiction although it might incidentally affect a matter within federal jurisdiction.

 

    Martland J., with whom Ritchie, Pigeon, Dickson, Beetz and de Grandpré JJ. concurred, held that the challenged provision validly applied to television advertising because it was part of a general regulation of advertising for children that had a valid provincial purpose and its effect on a television broadcast undertaking was a merely incidental one.  Laskin C.J., dissenting, with whom Judson and Spence JJ. concurred, was of the view that the challenged provision could not validly apply to prevent an advertiser from advertising its products on television because in such application it encroached on a matter within exclusive federal jurisdiction, the content of television broadcasting.

 

    Like Turgeon J.A. in the Court of Appeal, Martland J. applied the distinction between legislation in relation to a matter and legislation which incidentally affects a matter, citing the judgment of the Court in Carnation Co. v. Quebec Agricultural Marketing Board, [1968] S.C.R. 238, as an analogous application of this distinction.  He held that the challenged provision was aimed at certain kinds of advertising by advertisers and not at the operation of a television broadcast undertaking.  He said at p. 225:

 

    In my opinion this regulation does not seek to regulate or to interfere with the operation of a broadcast undertaking.  In relation to the facts of this case it seeks to prevent Kellogg from using a certain kind of advertising by any means.  It aims at controlling the commercial activity of Kellogg.  The fact that Kellogg is precluded from using televised advertising may, incidentally, affect the revenue of one or more television stations but it does not change the true nature of the regulation.  In this connection the case of Carnation Company Ltd. v. The Quebec Agricultural Marketing Board is analogous.

 

Martland J. stressed the fact that the regulation was being applied and the injunction sought against Kellogg and not against a television station.  He reserved his opinion as to whether the regulation could be validly applied against a television station.  He said at p. 225:  "Whether the regulation could be applied to the television station itself or whether an injunction against Kellogg would bind such station does not arise in this case and I prefer to express no opinion with respect to it."

 

    The disputed regulation in Kellogg's, as Martland J. observed, sought to prevent the advertiser "from using a certain kind of advertising by any means."  It was concerned with a certain kind of advertising content but it applied to all advertising media employing such content.  Moreover, it had a limited application to advertising content, merely prohibiting the use of cartoons, but otherwise permitting children's advertising.  It was thus a provision of general application in pursuit of the legislative object which Martland J. characterized as "to protect children in Quebec from the harmful effect of the kinds of advertising therein prohibited" (p. 223).  It was aimed at all children's advertising employing cartoons, not at television advertising as such nor at the television broadcaster.  The implication of the distinction emphasized by Martland J. between application to the advertiser and application to a broadcast undertaking is that provincial legislation of general application with respect to advertising content would only be considered to encroach on exclusive federal jurisdiction with respect to broadcast content to the extent it was applied to a broadcast undertaking, that is, to the control over content exercised by such an undertaking rather than by an advertiser.

 

    In the case at bar the respondent contended that the challenged provision of the Consumer Protection Act, when read together with the regulations to which they are made expressly subject and considered in the light of the evidence of their practical effect, exhibit a different purpose or object from that of the regulation that was in issue in Kellogg's.  The respondent contends that when the challenged provisions are seen in the context of the regulations and the evidence it is clear that they are aimed essentially and primarily at television as a medium of children's advertising, a matter within exclusive federal jurisdiction.  In support of this contention the respondent emphasizes the relative importance of the prohibition of television advertising directed to persons under thirteen years of age, as indicated by the evidence and the extent of the exemptions provided by the regulations for other forms of children's advertising.  The respondent contends that the trial judge was in error in taking judicial notice of the existence and relative importance of other forms of children's advertising.  There is no doubt that the evidence adduced by the respondent at trial and the s. 1  and s. 9.1 materials submitted by the Attorney General of Quebec show that television advertising is by any measure the most important form of children's advertising.  It is indisputably, however, not the only form as the exemptions indicate.  Moreover, the genuine concern with the other forms of children's advertising is indicated by the extent to which the exempted forms are made subject to the content requirements of s. 91 of the regulations.  The Attorney General of Quebec submitted that television advertising, because of its massive penetration and ease of access for children, did not lend itself to as precise regulation as other forms of communication and must therefore be the subject of a particular regime.  The respondent argued that this was an admission that the prohibition in s. 248 of the Act was primarily directed at television advertising.  We take it to have been in justification of a prohibition in the case of television advertising rather than a concession that the challenged provisions as modified by the regulations are aimed primarily at such advertising.  The Attorney General of Quebec noted that there are other forms of children's advertising subject to the prohibition.  On the whole, despite the fact that the relative impact on television advertising is much greater than it was in Kellogg's, we are of the opinion that ss. 248 and 249 of the Act, as modified by or completed by the regulations, can also be said to be legislation of general application enacted in relation to consumer protection, as in Kellogg's, rather than a colourable attempt, under the guise of a law of general application, to legislate in relation to television advertising.  In other words, the dominant aspect of the law for purposes of characterization is the regulation of all forms of advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age rather than the prohibition of television advertising which cannot be said to be the exclusive or even primary aim of the legislation.  In effect,  we agree with Hugessen A.C.J. on the general significance, for the purposes of characterization of the legislation, of the fact that other forms of advertising directed to persons under thirteen years, whatever be their relative importance, are not exempted from the prohibition.  The existence of such other forms of children's advertising was not seriously challenged but rather their significance from the constitutional point of view in attempting to ascertain the dominant aspect of the legislation.  The existence of such other forms of children's advertising did not rest entirely on the judicial notice taken by the trial judge, who said that even if there was not evidence of such other forms he would be prepared to take judicial notice of them.  The relative importance of television advertising and the other forms of children's advertising subject to exemption and prohibition is not in our opinion a sufficient basis for a finding of colourability.  There is no suggestion that the legislative or regulatory concern with these other forms of children's advertising is a mere pretense or façade for a primary, if not exclusive, purpose of regulating television advertising.  It is not the relative importance of these other forms of advertising but the bona fide nature of the legislative concern with them that is in issue on the question of colourability.

 

B.  The Effect of ss. 248 and 249 on Broadcasting Undertakings

 

    The interveners Pathonic, as we understood their argument, did not contend, as did the respondent, that the challenged provisions of the Consumer Protection Act were distinguishable on their face in respect of the characterization of their purpose or object from the provision of the regulations that was considered in Kellogg's.  They contended that the challenged provisions were rendered ultra vires or inoperative because of their effect on a television broadcast undertaking.  They submitted that the prohibition of television advertising affected a vital part of the operation of such an undertaking and impaired the undertaking.  The interveners suggested that what distinguished Kellogg's from the case at bar was the presence of a television undertaking in the proceedings.  The presence of the interveners in the proceedings does not, of course, make the challenged provisions ones that are being applied to a television undertaking.  What the interveners really suggest is that had a television broadcast undertaking been represented in Kellogg's to establish the effect of a regulation of television advertising on such an undertaking the Court might have come to a different conclusion.

 

    Recently, in Bell Canada v. Quebec (Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail), [1988] 1 S.C.R. 749 (Bell Canada 1988),  Beetz J., writing for the Court, reviewed the principles of constitutional interpretation applicable to the regulation of federal undertakings.  He distinguished between situations in which (1) a provincial law would, if applied to a federal undertaking, affect a vital part of its operations and (2) the effect of the provincial law on a federal undertaking, whether applied to it directly or not, would impair its operations (at pp. 859-60):

 

    The impairment test is not necessary in cases in which, without going so far as to impair the federal undertaking, the application of the provincial law affects a vital part of the undertaking . . . .

 

    In order for the inapplicability of provincial legislation rule to be given effect, it is sufficient that the provincial statute which purports to apply to the federal undertaking affects a vital or essential part of that undertaking, without necessarily going as far as impairing or paralysing it.

 

The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction as regards "essential and vital elements" of a federal undertaking, including the management of such an undertaking, because those matters form the "basic, minimum and unassailable content" of the head of power created by operation of s. 91(29)  and the exceptions in s. 92(10)  of the Constitution Act, 1867 .  No provincial law touching on those matters can apply to a federal undertaking.  However, where provincial legislation does not purport to apply to a federal undertaking, its incidental effect, even upon a vital part of the operation of the undertaking, will not normally render the provincial legislation ultra vires.

 

    The case of Attorney-General for Manitoba v. Attorney-General for Canada, [1929] A.C. 260 (P.C.), upon which Pathonic relied a great deal in its submissions, provides a counter-example to this last statement and illustrates the doctrine of impairment.  The legislation there in issue, the Manitoba Municipal and Public Utility Board Act, S.M. 1926, c. 33, s. 162, provided that: "No person, firm, or corporation shall sell, or offer or agree to sell, or directly or indirectly attempt to sell, in Manitoba, any shares, stocks, bonds or other securities of or issued by any company unless the company has first been approved by the Board as one the securities of which are permitted to be sold in Manitoba and a certificate to that effect . . . [is] issued by the Board."  The Act exempted block sales of securities by companies to brokers but did regulate the sale of those securities by brokers to the public.  In this sense, as Pathonic submitted, s. 162 did not apply to the companies themselves but applied, rather, to brokers.  The issue before the Privy Council was whether s. 162 was ultra vires the province in so far as it purported to apply to the sale of the shares of a federally incorporated company.

 

    In concluding that the province did not have jurisdiction to enact s. 162, Viscount Sumner, who delivered the judgment of their Lordships, considered the effect of the provision on federal incorporated companies (at pp. 266-67):

 

An artificial person, incorporated under the powers of the Dominion with certain objects, invested by these powers with capacities to trade in pursuit of those objects and with the status and capacities of a Dominion incorporation, is . . . liable in the most ordinary course of business to be stillborn from the moment of incorporation, sterilized in all its functions and activities, thwarted and interfered with in its first and essential endeavours to enter on the beneficial and active employment of its powers, by the necessity of applying to a Provincial executive for permission to begin to act and to raise its necessary capital, a permission which may be subjected to conditions or refused altogether according to the view, which in their discretion that executive may take of the plans, promises and prospects of a creation of the Dominion.

 

Despite the fact that s. 162 did not apply to federally incorporated companies, it succeeded, indirectly, in impairing their operation.  That consequence was sufficient to render the provision ultra vires the province of Manitoba.

 

    Although the impairment doctrine was developed in cases concerning the federal power to incorporate companies, Beetz J., in Bell Canada 1988, identified the relevance of this doctrine to the regulation of federal undertakings (at p. 862):

 

[T]he transposition of the concept of impairment from the field of federally incorporated companies to that of federal undertakings may be valid in cases in which the application of provincial legislation to federal undertakings in fact impairs the latter, paralyses them or destroys them.

 

As the Attorney-General for Manitoba case makes clear, the concept of impairment extends not only to the direct application of provincial legislation but also to the indirect effect of that legislation.  Thus, where provincial legislation applied to a federal undertaking affects a vital part of that undertaking or, though not applied directly to a federal undertaking, has the effect of impairing its operation, the legislation in question is ultra vires.

 

    There is no doubt that television advertising is a vital part of the operation of a television broadcast undertaking.  The advertising services of these undertakings therefore fall within exclusive federal legislative jurisdiction.  It is well established that such jurisdiction extends to the content of broadcasting:  Re C.F.R.B. and Attorney-General for Canada, [1973] 3 O.R. 819 (C.A.);  Capital Cities Communications Inc. v. Canadian Radio-Television Commission, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 141, and advertising forms a part of such content.  However, ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act do not purport to apply to television broadcast undertakings.  Read together with s. 252, it is clear that ss. 248 and 249 apply to the acts of an advertiser, not to the acts of a broadcaster.  Nor did Pathonic contend that ss. 248 and 249 applied to television broadcasters.  Indeed, it went so far as to submit that the province of Quebec was unable to regulate the advertising practices of television broadcasters because signals coming from outside the province and received directly by the public or re-distributed by a cable company could not be subject to the standards of the Consumer Protection Act. While this submission demonstrates that the Quebec government can only achieve partial success in controlling commercial advertising aimed at children, it also demonstrates that a province can aim to regulate provincial advertisers without applying its regulations to television broadcasters situate in the province.  Therefore, the provisions in question do not trench on exclusive federal jurisdiction by purporting to apply to a federal undertaking and, in so doing, affecting a vital part of its operation.

 

    Do the provisions nevertheless have the effect of impairing the operation of a federal undertaking?  The interveners adduced evidence showing the importance of advertising revenues in the operation of a television broadcast undertaking and that the prohibition of commercial advertising directed to persons under thirteen years of age affected the capacity to provide children's programs.  This is not a sufficient basis on which to conclude that the effect of the provisions was to impair the operation of the undertaking, in the sense that the undertaking was "sterilized in all its functions and activities".  The most that can be said, as in Kellogg's (at p. 225), is that the provisions "may, incidentally, affect the revenue of one or more television stations".  Nor can it be said that the provisions have the potential to impair the operation of a broadcast undertaking.  Interpreted strictly, as under the Application Guide for Sections 248 and 249 (Advertising Intended for Children Under 13 Years of Age) produced by the Office de la protection du consommateur (October 8, 1980), products and services aimed exclusively at children "may not, for all practical purposes, be advertised during children's programs (unless the message is presented so that it cannot, in any way, arouse a child's interest)."  Even if it were true, as Pathonic submitted, that applied this way, the provisions prevent the production of programs aimed at children since they remove potential funding for those programs -- a contention which was denied by the Attorney General of Quebec, who insisted that advertisers were always free to aim their message at adults rather than children, and which must also be considered in light of the explicit acceptance in the Application Guide for Sections 248 and 249 (at p. 9) of educational advertising aimed at children produced by private companies -- this would only demonstrate that the legislation constrains business decisions both for those who produce advertisements and for those who carry them.  It should also be noted that Pathonic is subject to a parallel, though somewhat less stringent, requirement under the terms of the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children, which Code is incorporated by reference as a condition of Pathonic's licence to carry on a broadcasting transmitting undertaking granted by the CRTC (at p. 3):

 

Pre-schoolers

 

Children of pre-school age often are unable to distinguish between program content and actual promotions.  Therefore, any commercials scheduled for viewing during the school-day morning hours must be directed to the family, parent, or an adult, rather than to children.

 

Pathonic did not claim that such a limit on the conduct of its business had or could have the effect of disrupting its operations.  Nor do we find that ss. 248 and 249 have or could have that effect.

 

C.  The Compatibility of ss. 248 and 249 with Federal Regulation

 

    Irwin Toy submitted that even if the effect of ss. 248 and 249 was not to impair the operation of a federal undertaking, these provisions conflicted with the declaration found in s. 3(c) of the Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-11 (now R.S.C., 1985, c. B-9), which reads:

 

Broadcasting Policy for Canada

 

    3. It is hereby declared that

 

                                                                          . . .

 

(c) all persons licensed to carry on broadcasting undertakings have a responsibility for programs they broadcast but the right to freedom of expression and the right of persons to receive programs, subject only to generally applicable statutes and regulations, is unquestioned;

 

The respondent argued that the only federal regulation restricting public access to television programming were the Television Broadcasting Regulations, C.R.C. 1978, c. 381.  Because these regulations do not restrict advertising aimed at children, and because s. 3 of the Broadcasting Act enshrines the right to freedom of expression subject only to generally applicable statutes or regulations, Irwin Toy submitted that the scheme of the Broadcasting Act provided legislative protection for their advertising activities.  Under the doctrine of paramountcy, ss. 248 and 249, to the extent they purported to apply to television advertising, were therefore of no force or effect.

 

    This argument cannot succeed.  It is based, in part, on a misunderstanding of the Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. I-23 (now R.S.C., 1985, c. I-21 ).  The respondent concluded from ss. 2 and 3 of the Interpretation Act that the word "loi" in the French text of s. 3 of the Broadcasting Act refers only to federal laws of general application.  Therefore, no provincial law of general application could restrict advertising.  In fact, s. 2 of the Interpretation Act sets out the definition of various terms, including "loi" and the corresponding English term, "Act", as those terms are to be interpreted "in this Act", not as those terms are to be interpreted in every federal Act.  Section 2 simply makes clear that the kind of Act or "loi" to which the Interpretation Act applies is a federal Act, not a provincial Act.  That does not imply that whenever the word "loi" appears in a federal statute, it can only refer to a federal Act.  Furthermore, the English text of s. 3 of the Broadcasting Act refers to "statutes", not "Acts".  Thus, the definition of "Act" or "loi" in s. 2 of the Interpretation Act is simply not relevant.  Even assuming that it could have that effect, the general declaration found in s. 3(c) of the Broadcasting Act does not purport to prevent provincial laws of general application from having an incidental effect on broadcasting undertakings.

 

    More significantly, perhaps, the interveners, Pathonic, drew attention to a condition of its licence imposed by the CRTC pursuant to s. 17(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act and typical of one of the conditions imposed on private television broadcasters:

 

It is a condition of this licence that the licensee shall adhere to the provisions of the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children published by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and to any amendment or amendments which may from time-to-time be made thereto.

 

As we understood their argument, Pathonic contended that such a condition of licence constituted regulatory action by the CRTC occupying the field as concerns television advertising aimed at children.

 

    To address this argument, one must first outline the nature of the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children and the manner in which it functions as an instrument of CRTC policy.  According to Section A of the Code (revised, 1984):

 

The Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children has been designed to complement the general principles for ethical advertising outlined in the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards which applies to all advertising.  Both Codes are supplementary to all federal and provincial laws and regulations governing advertising, including those regulations and procedures established by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and Health and Welfare Canada.

 

The Code goes on to establish detailed guidelines which are in substance quite similar to the content standards established in the Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act (albeit with respect to advertising not carried on television) and are in many cases more specific and demanding.  The Code does, however, contemplate that advertisements which meet the requirements set out therein can aim at children.  Indeed, it establishes a procedure for pre-clearance of advertisements by the "Children's Section of the Advertising Standards Council".  Nevertheless, the Code is explicitly designed to supplement provincial and federal laws and does not purport to constitute the sole regulatory mechanism applicable to children's advertising.

 

    While the Code is published by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and is thus an instrument of self-regulation, it has been subject to formal consideration by the CRTC.  On August 21, 1974, the CRTC issued a public announcement entitled "Broadcast Advertising to Children and Children's Programming" commenting on the Broadcast Code of Advertising and its relationship to CRTC policy (Broadcast Advertising Handbook (1978), at p. 11):

 

Concern expressed to the Commission has indicated that even though the self-regulatory procedures of the Code have proven effective, further assurances were required to ensure adherence to the Code by legally enforceable procedures.

 

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts, in its report on children's advertising, indicated that regardless of how excellent the procedures of self-regulation through the Broadcast Code might be, a stronger enforcement system would be desirable.

 

The Commission, in conformity with its previous undertaking to ensure the effectiveness of the Code and to meet the expressed concerns, hereby gives notice

 

1.to all holders of licences to carry on broadcasting transmitting undertakings in Canada and all applicants for such licences, that adherence to the provisions of the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children will be made a specific condition of each licence; and

 

2.that a representative of the CRTC will formally represent the Commission at all deliberations of the Children's Advertising Sections of the Advertising Standards Council/Conseil des normes de la publicité which have the responsibility for pre-clearing all children's commercials.

 

Thus, by requiring, as a condition of licence, that television broadcasters adhere to the Code, and by participating in the pre-clearance deliberations respecting advertisements aimed at children, the CRTC has transformed the Code into more than an instrument of industry self-regulation; it has become the federal regulatory regime applicable to private television broadcasters.

 

    The regulatory regime put into place through the vehicle of the Code is designed to apply both to television broadcasters and to advertisers.  However, as concerns advertisers, the CRTC does not claim to exercise any mandatory control.  Conditions of licence apply only to broadcasters.  The Code itself refers to the fact (at p. 6) that the Association of Canadian Advertisers, Inc. and the Canadian Toy Manufacturers Association have agreed to abide by the Code.  But the Code does not purport to have the force of law with regard to them.

 

    Consequently, can it be said that there is a conflict between a federal and provincial regulatory regime such that the doctrine of paramountcy must be invoked?  It bears repeating that the federal conditions of licence on the one hand and provincial consumer protection legislation on the other apply to different actors: television broadcasters and advertisers.  From a functional standpoint, however, any standard applied to television broadcasters will necessarily restrict the content of what advertisers produce for television, just as any standard applied to advertisers will necessarily restrict the content of what broadcasters show on television.  Thus, if there is a "practical and functional incompatibility" (Bell Canada 1988, supra, at p. 867) between the standards applied to television advertisers and those applied to television broadcasters, the doctrine of paramountcy will come into play.  If the two sets of standards are compatible, however, there is no need to invoke paramountcy.  In Multiple Access Ltd. v. McCutcheon, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 161, Dickson J. (as he then was), writing for the majority, made the following observation in this regard (at p. 191):

 

In principle, there would seem to be no good reasons to speak of paramountcy and preclusion except where there is actual conflict in operation as where one enactment says "yes" and the other says "no"; "the same citizens are being told to do inconsistent things"; compliance with one is defiance of the other.

 

    Had the CRTC adopted the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children not as "supplementary to all federal and provincial laws and regulations governing advertising", but rather as the sole and minimum standard to be applied, the question of conflict and functional incompatibility might have been a real one.  But the federal and provincial schemes have been designed to exist side by side.  Pre-clearance by the Children's Section of the Advertising Standards Council supplements a parallel evaluation system overseen by the Comité sur l'application des articles 248 et 249 de la Loi sur la protection du consommateur (see the Application Guide for Sections 248 and 249, op. cit., at p. 1).  Neither television broadcasters nor advertisers are put into a position of defying one set of standards by complying with the other.  If each group complies with the standards applicable to it, no conflict between the standards ever arises.  It is only if advertisers seek to comply only with the lower threshold applicable to television broadcasters that a conflict arises.  Absent an attempt by the federal government to make that lower standard the sole governing standard, there is no occasion to invoke the doctrine of paramountcy.

 

D.  Sections 248 and 249 and the Criminal Law Power

 

    Irwin Toy's final submission concerning the division of powers was that the provisions in issue encroached on the criminal law power conferred on Parliament by s. 91(27)  of the Constitution Act, 1867 .  Section 278 of the Consumer Protection Act provides penalties, including fines and possible imprisonment, for those who are "guilty of an offence constituting a prohibited practice".  Section 215 defines "prohibited practice" as "[a]ny practice contemplated in sections 219 to 251", and while the definition applies to Title II on business practices, there is no other definition of the term to explain its use in s. 278.  However, s. 278 does not constitute the only sanction that can be applied against a breach of s. 248.  Indeed, as we have already mentioned, the Office de la protection du consommateur at one stage sought an injunction ordering Irwin Toy to cease using commercial advertising aimed at children.  Section 316 of the Act empowers the President of the Office to seek injunctions against persons engaged in prohibited practices.

 

    Having found that ss. 248 and 249 were enacted pursuant to a valid provincial objective and that they do not conflict with federal regulation, it cannot be said that because there are sanctions against a breach of these sections, they are best characterized as being, in pith and substance, legislation relating to criminal law.  Subsection 92(15)  of the Constitution Act, 1867  provides that each provincial legislature may make laws respecting:

 

15.The Imposition of Punishment by Fine, Penalty, or Imprisonment for enforcing any Law of the Province made in relation to any Matter coming within any of the Classes of Subjects enumerated in this Section.

 

This Court has on numerous occasions upheld provincial penal laws enacted in relation to otherwise valid provincial objectives: Nova Scotia Board of Censors v. McNeil, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 662; Mann v. The Queen, [1966] S.C.R. 238, and Smith v. The Queen, [1960] S.C.R. 776.  The legislation here in issue is no different.

 

V  -Whether ss. 248 and 249 Are Protected from the Application of the Canadian Charter  by a Valid and Subsisting Override Provision

 

    Section 364 of the Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P-40.1, added to that Act by s. 1 of the Act respecting the Constitution Act, 1982, S.Q. 1982, c. 21, reads as follows:

 

This Act shall operate notwithstanding the provisions of sections 2  and 7  to 15  of the Constitution Act, 1982  (Schedule B of the Canada Act, chapter 11 in the 1982 volume of the Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom).

 

Section 364 ceased to have effect by operation of s. 33(3)  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  five years after it came into force, and it was not re-enacted pursuant to s. 33(4)  of the Charter .  The legislation enacting s. 364 came into force on June 23, 1982.  As this Court decided in Ford, to the extent that s. 7 of the enacting legislation attempted to give retrospective effect to the override provisions it was of no force or effect.  The result of this is that the standard override provisions enacted by s. 1 of that Act came into force on June 23, 1982 in accordance with the first paragraph of s. 7  and not on April 17, 1982 as the portion of s. 7  purporting to give retrospective effect to s. 1  envisaged.  This means that s. 364 ceased to have effect on June 23, 1987 and that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act are no longer protected from the application of the Canadian Charter  by a valid and subsisting override provision.  As was stated in Ford (at p. 734), "on an application for a declaratory judgment in a case of this kind the Court should declare the law as it exists at the time of its judgment."  We will thus proceed on the basis that ss. 248 and 249 are subject to the provisions of both the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms .

 

VI -Whether ss. 248 and 249 Limits Freedom of Expression as Guaranteed by the Canadian and Quebec Charters

 

A.  The Ford and Devine Appeals

 

    Although the issue relating to freedom of expression in this appeal was argued together with the Ford and Devine appeals, it is important to emphasize that, unlike in the present case, the two latter cases involved government measures restricting one's choice of language.  As the Court stated in Ford (at p. 748):

 

Language is so intimately related to the form and content of expression that there cannot be true freedom of expression by means of language if one is prohibited from using the language of one's choice.  Language is not merely a means or medium of expression; it colours the content and meaning of expression.

 

Having determined that freedom of expression prevents prohibitions against using the language of one's choice, the question became whether, in the Court's words (at p. 766) "a commercial purpose removes the expression . . . from the scope of protected freedom."  Thus, while choice of language was the principal matter in those appeals, the commercial element to the expression in issue raised an ancillary question.  As the Court made clear at the end of its discussion concerning freedom of expression (at p. 767):

 

Although the expression in this case has a commercial element, it should be noted that the focus here is on choice of language and on a law which prohibits the use of a language.  We are not asked in this case to deal with the distinct issue of the permissible scope of regulation of advertising (for example to protect consumers) where different governmental interests come into play, particularly when assessing the reasonableness of limits on such commercial expression pursuant to s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  or to s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter.

 

The instant case concerns the regulation of advertising aimed at children and thus raises squarely the issues which were not treated in Ford.  Whereas it was sufficient in Ford to reject the submission that the guarantee of freedom of expression does not extend to signs having a commercial message, this case requires a determination whether regulations aimed solely at commercial advertising limit that guarantee.  This, in turn, requires an elaboration of the conclusion already reached in Ford that there is no sound basis on which to exclude commercial expression, as a category of expression, from the sphere of activity protected by s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter.

 

B.The First Step: Was the Plaintiff's Activity Within the Sphere of Conduct Protected by Freedom of Expression?

 

    Does advertising aimed at children fall within the scope of freedom of expression?  This question must be put even before deciding whether there has been a limitation of the guarantee. Clearly, not all activity is protected by freedom of expression, and governmental action restricting this form of advertising only limits the guarantee if the activity in issue was protected in the first place.  Thus, for example, in Reference Re Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alta.), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 313; PSAC v. Canada, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 424; and RWDSU v. Saskatchewan, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 460, the majority of the Court found that freedom of association did not include the right to strike.  The activity itself was not within the sphere protected by s. 2 (d); therefore the government action in restricting it was not contrary to the Charter .  The same procedure must be followed with respect to an analysis of freedom of expression; the first step to be taken in an inquiry of this kind is to discover whether the activity which the plaintiff wishes to pursue may properly be characterized as falling within "freedom of expression".  If the activity is not within s. 2 (b), the government action obviously cannot be challenged under that section.

 

    The necessity of this first step has been described, with reference to the narrower concept of "freedom of speech", by Frederick Schauer in his work entitled Free Speech: A Philosophical Enquiry (Cambridge, 1982) at p. 91:

 

    We are attempting to identify those things that one is free (or at least more free) to do when a Free Speech Principle is accepted.  What activities justify an appeal to the concept of freedom of speech?  These activities are clearly something less than the totality of human conduct and . . . something more than merely moving one's tongue, mouth and vocal chords to make linguistic noises.

 

"Expression" has both a content and a form, and the two can be inextricably connected.  Activity is expressive if it attempts to convey meaning.  That meaning is its content.  Freedom of expression was entrenched in our Constitution and is guaranteed in the Quebec Charter so as to ensure that everyone can manifest their thoughts, opinions, beliefs, indeed all expressions of the heart and mind, however unpopular, distasteful or contrary to the mainstream.  Such protection is, in the words of both the Canadian and Quebec Charters, "fundamental" because in a free, pluralistic and democratic society we prize a diversity of ideas and opinions for their inherent value both to the community and to the individual.  Free expression was for Cardozo J. of the United States Supreme Court "the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom" (Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937), at p. 327); for Rand J. of the Supreme Court of Canada, it was "little less vital to man's mind and spirit than breathing is to his physical existence" (Switzman v. Elbling, [1957] S.C.R. 285, at p. 306).  And as the European Court stated in the Handyside case, Eur. Court H. R., decision of 29 April 1976, Series A No. 24, at p. 23, freedom of expression:

 

. . . is applicable not only to "information" or "ideas" that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.  Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no "democratic society".

 

We cannot, then, exclude human activity from the scope of guaranteed free expression on the basis of the content or meaning being conveyed.  Indeed, if the activity conveys or attempts to convey a meaning, it has expressive content and prima facie falls within the scope of the guarantee.  Of course, while most human activity combines expressive and physical elements, some human activity is purely physical and does not convey or attempt to convey meaning.  It might be difficult to characterize certain day-to-day tasks, like parking a car, as having expressive content.  To bring such activity within the protected sphere, the plaintiff would have to show that it was performed to convey a meaning.  For example, an unmarried person might, as part of a public protest, park in a zone reserved for spouses of government employees in order to express dissatisfaction or outrage at the chosen method of allocating a limited resource.  If that person could demonstrate that his activity did in fact have expressive content, he would, at this stage, be within the protected sphere and the s. 2 (b) challenge would proceed.

 

    The content of expression can be conveyed through an infinite variety of forms of expression: for example, the written or spoken word, the arts, and even physical gestures or acts.  While the guarantee of free expression protects all content of expression, certainly violence as a form of expression receives no such protection.  It is not necessary here to delineate precisely when and on what basis a form of expression chosen to convey a meaning falls outside the sphere of the guarantee.  But it is clear, for example, that a murderer or rapist cannot invoke freedom of expression in justification of the form of expression he has chosen.  As McIntyre J., writing for the majority in RWDSU v. Dolphin Delivery Ltd., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 573, observed in the course of discussing whether picketing fell within the scope of s. 2 (b), at p. 588:

 

Action on the part of the picketers will, of course, always accompany the expression, but not every action on the part of the picketers will be such as to alter the nature of the whole transaction and remove it from Charter  protection for freedom of expression.  That freedom, of course, would not extend to protect threats of violence or acts of violence.

 

Indeed, freedom of expression ensures that we can convey our thoughts and feelings in non-violent ways without fear of censure.

 

    The broad, inclusive approach to the protected sphere of free expression here outlined is consonant with that suggested by some leading theorists.  Thomas Emerson, in his article entitled "Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment" (1963), 72 Yale L.J. 877, notes (at p. 886) that:

 

. . . the theory of freedom of expression involves more than a technique for arriving at better social judgments through democratic procedures.  It comprehends a vision of society, a faith and a whole way of life.  The theory grew out of an age that was awakened and invigorated by the idea of a new society in which man's mind was free, his fate determined by his own powers of reason, and his prospects of creating a rational and enlightened civilization virtually unlimited.  It is put forward as a prescription for attaining a creative, progressive, exciting and intellectually robust community.  It contemplates a mode of life that, through encouraging toleration, skepticism, reason and initiative, will allow man to realize his full potentialities.  It spurns the alternative of a society that is tyrannical, conformist, irrational and stagnant.

 

D. F. B. Tucker in his book Law, Liberalism and Free Speech (1985) describes what he calls a "deontological approach" to freedom of expression as one in which "the protected sphere of liberty is delineated by interpreting an understanding of the democratic commitment" (p. 35).  It is upon precisely this enterprise that we have embarked.

 

    Thus, the first question remains: Does the advertising aimed at children fall within the scope of freedom of expression?  Surely it aims to convey a meaning, and cannot be excluded as having no expressive content.  Nor is there any basis for excluding the form of expression chosen from the sphere of protected activity.  As we stated in Ford, supra, at pp. 766-67:

 

Given the earlier pronouncements of this Court to the effect that the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Canadian Charter  should be given a large and liberal interpretation, there is no sound basis on which commercial expression can be excluded from the protection of s. 2 (b) of the Charter .

 

Consequently, we must proceed to the second step of the inquiry and ask whether the purpose or effect of the government action in question was to restrict freedom of expression.

 

    It bears repeating that in Ford, the discussion of commercial expression ended at this first stage.  The Court had already found that the aim of ss. 58 and 69 of the Charter of the French Language was to prohibit the use of one's language of choice.  The centrality of choice of language to freedom of expression transcends any significance that the context in which the expression is intended to be used might have.  It was therefore unnecessary in that case to inquire further whether the restriction of commercial expression limited freedom of expression.

 

C.The Second Step: Was the Purpose or Effect of the Government Action to Restrict Freedom of Expression?

 

    Having found that the plaintiff's activity does fall within the scope of guaranteed free expression, it must next be determined whether the purpose or effect of the impugned governmental action was to control attempts to convey meaning through that activity.  The importance of focussing at this stage on the purpose and effect of the legislation is nowhere more clearly stated than in R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295, at pp. 331-32 where Dickson J. (as he then was), speaking for the majority, observed:

 

In my view, both purpose and effect are relevant in determining constitutionality; either an unconstitutional purpose or an unconstitutional effect can invalidate legislation.  All legislation is animated by an object the legislature intends to achieve.  This object is realized through the impact produced by the operation and application of the legislation.  Purpose and effect respectively, in the sense of the legislation's object and its ultimate impact, are clearly linked, if not indivisible.  Intended and actual effects have often been looked to for guidance in assessing the legislation's object and thus, its validity.

 

    Moreover, consideration of the object of legislation is vital if rights are to be fully protected.  The assessment by the courts of legislative purpose focuses scrutiny upon the aims and objectives of the legislature and ensures they are consonant with the guarantees enshrined in the Charter .  The declaration that certain objects lie outside the legislature's power checks governmental action at the first stage of unconstitutional conduct.  Further, it will provide more ready and more vigorous protection of constitutional rights by obviating the individual litigant's need to prove effects violative of Charter  rights.  It will also allow courts to dispose of cases where the object is clearly improper, without inquiring into the legislation's actual impact.

 

Dickson J. went on to specify how this inquiry into purpose and effects should be carried out (at p. 334):

 

    In short, I agree with the respondent that the legislation's purpose is the initial test of constitutional validity and its effects are to be considered when the law under review has passed or, at least, has purportedly passed the purpose test.  If the legislation fails the purpose test, there is no need to consider further its effects, since it has already been demonstrated to be invalid.  Thus, if a law with a valid purpose interferes by its impact, with rights or freedoms, a litigant could still argue the effects of the legislation as a means to defeat its applicability and possibly its validity.  In short, the effects test will only be necessary to defeat legislation with a valid purpose; effects can never be relied upon to save legislation with an invalid purpose.

 

If the government's purpose, then, was to restrict attempts to convey a meaning, there has been a limitation by law of s. 2 (b) and a s. 1  analysis is required to determine whether the law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution.  If, however, this was not the government's purpose, the court must move on to an analysis of the effects of the government action.

 

    a.  Purpose

 

    When applying the purpose test to the guarantee of free expression, one must beware of drifting to either of two extremes.  On the one hand, the greatest part of human activity has an expressive element and so one might find, on an objective test, that an aspect of the government's purpose is virtually always to restrict expression.  On the other hand, the government can almost always claim that its subjective purpose was to address some real or purported social need, not to restrict expression.  To avoid both extremes, the government's purpose must be assessed from the standpoint of the guarantee in question.  Just as the division of powers jurisprudence of this Court measures the purpose of government action against the ambit of the heads of power established under the Constitution Act, 1867 , so too, in cases involving the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter , the purpose of government action must be measured against the ambit of the relevant guarantee.  It is important, of course, to heed Dickson J.'s warning against a "theory of shifting purpose" (Big M Drug Mart, supra, at p. 335): "Purpose is a function of the intent of those who drafted and enacted the legislation at the time, and not of any shifting variable."  This is not to say that the degree to which a purpose remains or becomes pressing and substantial cannot change over time.  In Big M Drug Mart, Dickson J.'s principal concern was to avoid characterizing purposes in a way that shifted over time.  But it is equally true that the government cannot have had one purpose as concerns the division of powers, a different purpose as concerns the guaranteed right or freedom, and a different purpose again as concerns reasonable and justified limits to that guarantee.  Nevertheless, the same purpose can be assessed from different standpoints when interpreting the division of powers, limitation of a guarantee, or reasonable limits to that guarantee.

 

    If the government's purpose is to restrict the content of expression by singling out particular meanings that are not to be conveyed, it necessarily limits the guarantee of free expression.  If the government's purpose is to restrict a form of expression in order to control access by others to the meaning being conveyed or to control the ability of the one conveying the meaning to do so, it also limits the guarantee.  On the other hand, where the government aims to control only the physical consequences of certain human activity, regardless of the meaning being conveyed, its purpose is not to control expression.  Archibald Cox has described the distinction as follows (Freedom of Expression (1981), at pp. 59-60):

 

    The bold line . . . between restrictions upon publication and regulation of the time, place or manner of expression tied to content, on the one hand, and regulation of time, place, or manner of expression regardless of content, on the other hand, reflects the difference between the state's usually impermissible effort to suppress "harmful" information, ideas, or emotions and the state's often justifiable desire to secure other interests against interference from the noise and the physical intrusions that accompany speech, regardless of the information, ideas, or emotions expressed.

 

Thus, for example, a rule against handing out pamphlets is a restriction on a manner of expression and is "tied to content", even if that restriction purports to control litter.  The rule aims to control access by others to a meaning being conveyed as well as to control the ability of the pamphleteer to convey a meaning.  To restrict this form of expression, handing out pamphlets, entails restricting its content.  By contrast, a rule against littering is not a restriction "tied to content".  It aims to control the physical consequences of certain conduct regardless of whether that conduct attempts to convey meaning.  To restrict littering as a "manner of expression" need not lead inexorably to restricting a content.  Of course, rules can be framed to appear neutral as to content even if their true purpose is to control attempts to convey a meaning.  For example, in Saumur v. City of Quebec, [1953] 2 S.C.R. 299, a municipal by-law forbidding distribution of pamphlets without prior authorization from the Chief of Police was a colourable attempt to restrict expression.

 

    If the government is to assert successfully that its purpose was to control a harmful consequence of the particular conduct in question, it must not have aimed to avoid, in Thomas Scanlon's words ("A Theory of Freedom of Expression", in Dworkin, ed., The Philosophy of Law (1977), at p. 161):

 

a) harms to certain individuals which consist in their coming to have false beliefs as a result of those acts of expression; b) harmful consequences of acts performed as a result of those acts of expression, where the connection between the acts of expression and the subsequent harmful acts consists merely in the fact that the act of expression led the agents to believe (or increased their tendency to believe) these acts to be worth performing.

 

In each of Scanlon's two categories, the government's purpose is to regulate thoughts, opinions, beliefs or particular meanings.  That is the mischief in view.  On the other hand, where the harm caused by the expression in issue is direct, without the intervening element of thought, opinion, belief, or a particular meaning, the regulation does aim at a harmful physical consequence, not the content or form of expression.

 

    In sum, the characterization of government purpose must proceed from the standpoint of the guarantee in issue.  With regard to freedom of expression, if the government has aimed to control attempts to convey a meaning either by directly restricting the content of expression or by restricting a form of expression tied to content, its purpose trenches upon the guarantee.  Where, on the other hand, it aims only to control the physical consequences of particular conduct, its purpose does not trench upon the guarantee.  In determining whether the government's purpose aims simply at harmful physical consequences, the question becomes: does the mischief consist in the meaning of the activity or the purported influence that meaning has on the behaviour of others, or does it consist, rather, only in the direct physical result of the activity.

 

 

b.  Effects

 

    Even if the government's purpose was not to control or restrict attempts to convey a meaning, the Court must still decide whether the effect of the government action was to restrict the plaintiff's free expression.  Here, the burden is on the plaintiff to demonstrate that such an effect occurred.  In order so to demonstrate, a plaintiff must state her claim with reference to the principles and values underlying the freedom.

 

    We have already discussed the nature of the principles and values underlying the vigilant protection of free expression in a society such as ours.  They were also discussed by the Court in Ford (at pp. 765-67), and can be summarized as follows: (1) seeking and attaining the truth is an inherently good activity; (2) participation in social and political decision-making is to be fostered and encouraged; and (3) the diversity in forms of individual self-fulfillment and human flourishing ought to be cultivated in an essentially tolerant, indeed welcoming, environment not only for the sake of those who convey a meaning, but also for the sake of those to whom it is conveyed.  In showing that the effect of the government's action was to restrict her free expression, a plaintiff must demonstrate that her activity promotes at least one of these principles.  It is not enough that shouting, for example, has an expressive element.  If the plaintiff challenges the effect of government action to control noise, presuming that action to have a purpose neutral as to expression, she must show that her aim was to convey a meaning reflective of the principles underlying freedom of expression.  The precise and complete articulation of what kinds of activity promote these principles is, of course, a matter for judicial appreciation to be developed on a case by case basis.  But the plaintiff must at least identify the meaning being conveyed and how it relates to the pursuit of truth, participation in the community, or individual self-fulfillment and human flourishing.

 

    c.  Sections 248 and 249

 

    There is no question but that the purpose of ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act was to restrict both a particular range of content and certain forms of expression in the name of protecting children.  Section 248 prohibits, subject to regulation, attempts to communicate a commercial message to persons under thirteen years of age.  Section 249 identifies factors to be considered in deciding whether the commercial message in fact has that prohibited content.  At first blush, the regulations exempting certain advertisements transform the prohibition into a "time, place or manner" restriction aiming only at the form of expression.  According to ss. 88 to 90 of the Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act, an advertisement can be aimed at children if: (1) it appears in certain magazines or inserts directed at children; (2) it announces a programme or show directed at children; or (3) it appears in or on a store window, display, container, wrapping, or label.  Yet, even if all advertising aimed at children were permitted to appear in the manner specified, the restriction would be tied to content because it aims to restrict access to the particular message being conveyed.  However, the regulations in question do more than just restrict the manner in which a particular content must be expressed.  They also restrict content directly.  Section 91  provides that even where advertisements directed at children are permitted, such advertisements must not, for example "use a superlative to describe the characteristics of goods or services" or "directly incite a child to buy or to urge another person to buy goods or services or to seek information about it".  Furthermore, it is clear from the substantial body of material submitted by the Attorney General of Quebec as well as by the intervener, Gilles Moreau, president of the Office de la protection du consommateur, that the purported mischief at which the Act and regulations were directed was the harm caused by the message itself.  In combination, therefore, the Act and the regulations prohibit particular content of expression.  Such a prohibition can only be justified if it meets the test under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  and s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter.

 

D.  Summary and Conclusion

 

    When faced with an alleged violation of the guarantee of freedom of expression, the first step in the analysis is to determine whether the plaintiff's activity falls within the sphere of conduct protected by the guarantee.  Activity which (1) does not convey or attempt to convey a meaning, and thus has no content of expression or (2) which conveys a meaning but through a violent form of expression, is not within the protected sphere of conduct.  If the activity falls within the protected sphere of conduct, the second step in the analysis is to determine whether the purpose or effect of the government action in issue was to restrict freedom of expression.  If the government has aimed to control attempts to convey a meaning either by directly restricting the content of expression or by restricting a form of expression tied to content, its purpose trenches upon the guarantee.  Where, on the other hand, it aims only to control the physical consequences of particular conduct, its purpose does not trench upon the guarantee.  In determining whether the government's purpose aims simply at harmful physical consequences, the question becomes: does the mischief consist in the meaning of the activity or the purported influence that meaning has on the behaviour of others, or does it consist, rather, only in the direct physical result of the activity.  If the government's purpose was not to restrict free expression, the plaintiff can still claim that the effect of the government's action was to restrict her expression.  To make this claim, the  plaintiff must at least identify the meaning being conveyed and how it relates to the pursuit of truth, participation in the community, or individual self-fulfillment and human flourishing.

 

    In the instant case, the plaintiff's activity is not excluded from the sphere of conduct protected by freedom of expression.  The government's purpose in enacting ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act and in promulgating ss. 87 to 91 of the Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act was to prohibit particular content of expression in the name of protecting children.  These provisions therefore constitute limitations to s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter.  They fall to be justified under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  and s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter.

 

VII - Whether the Limit on Freedom of Expression Imposed by ss. 248 and 249 Is Justified Under s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter or s. 1  of the Canadian Charter 

 

    The issues raised in this part are as follows: (a) whether the meaning, role and effect of s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter are essentially different from that of s. 1  of the Canadian Charter ; (b) whether the scheme put into place by ss. 248 and 249 is so vague as not to constitute a "limit prescribed by law"; (c) whether the materials (hereinafter referred to as the s. 1  and s. 9.1 materials) relied on by the Attorney General of Quebec are relevant to justifying ss. 248 and 249 as a reasonable limit upon freedom of expression; and (d) whether the s. 1  and s. 9.1 materials justify banning commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age.

 

A.The Meaning of s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms

 

    The respondent, Irwin Toy, argued that s. 3 of the Quebec Charter provides an absolute guarantee of free expression.  On the respondent's submission, absent legislation declaring that these provisions apply notwithstanding the Quebec Charter, it was not open to the Attorney General to argue that ss. 248 and 249 constitute a reasonable limit to the s. 3 guarantee.  However, in Ford, supra, this Court drew the following conclusion about s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter (at pp. 769-70):

 

In the case at bar the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal held that s. 9.1 was a justificatory provision corresponding to s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  and that it was subject, in its application, to a similar test of rational connection and proportionality.  This Court agrees with that conclusion.

 

Since the test of rational connection and proportionality under s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter is essentially the same as the test under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter , the two tests will be considered together.

 

B.Whether ss. 248 and 249 Are too Vague to Constitute a Limit Prescribed by Law

 

    The respondent contended that ss. 248 and 249 were insufficiently precise to constitute a limit prescribed by law.  For convenience, the two provisions are reproduced here:

 

248.  Subject to what is provided in the regulations, no person may make use of commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age.

 

249.  To determine whether or not an advertisement is directed at persons under thirteen years of age, account must be taken of the context of its presentation, and in particular of

 

(a)the nature and intended purpose of the goods advertised;

 

(b)the manner of presenting such advertisement;

 

(c)the time and place it is shown.

 

    The fact that such advertisement may be contained in printed matter intended for persons thirteen years of age and over or intended both for persons under thirteen years of age and for persons thirteen years of age and over, or that it may be broadcast during air time intended for persons thirteen years of age and over or intended both for persons under thirteen years of age and for persons thirteen years of age and over does not create a presumption that it is not directed at persons under thirteen years of age.

 

The respondent's attack on the vagueness of these provisions was threefold: (1) ss. 248 and 249, read together, are confusing if not contradictory; (2) the courts are given insufficient guidance respecting how to interpret the ban on commercial advertising directed at children; and (3) there is too much scope for discretion to promulgate regulations.  The third argument need not be addressed because this Court has already concluded that a limit is "prescribed by law within the meaning of s. 1  if it is expressly provided for by statute or regulation, or results by necessary implication from the terms of a statute or regulation or from its operating requirements" (R. v. Thomsen, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 640, at pp. 650-51 per Le Dain J. for the Court).  (Emphasis added.)   A regulation promulgated pursuant to the statutory discretion such as the one here impugned can itself constitute a limit prescribed by law.  Thus, only the first two arguments will be addressed.

 

    a.  Confusion and Contradiction

 

    The respondent alleged that the last paragraph of s. 249 makes it all but impossible for the manufacturer of a children's product to know whether an advertisement of that product will run afoul of s. 248.  One author has commented on the paragraph to the same effect (Martin, "Business Practices -- Title II of the Quebec Consumer Protection Act" in Meredith Memorial Lectures 1979, The New Consumer Protection Act of Quebec (1980), at p. 222):

 

When this provision is read carefully, it seems that printed materials or broadcast time aimed only at adults are both covered, and this would appear to take away from the original provisions of this section in which it is said that account must be taken of the context of the presentation of the advertisement.  When this section is read as a whole, it would seem that the fact that the advertisement appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, or the like, cannot be invoked as creating any presumption that an advertisement was not directed to children.  On the other hand, this fact could be taken into account as part of the context of the presentation of the advertisement.  There is, in short, a contradiction in terms in the article and some redrafting appears required.

 

    We conclude that s. 249 can be given a sensible construction.  The narrow purpose of the last paragraph is to ensure that the three factors to be weighed by the judge, viz. the nature and intended purpose of the goods advertised, the manner of presenting the advertisement, and the time and place it is shown, are always weighed together.  The last paragraph addresses only the third factor -- time and place.  It makes clear that children's product advertising, if presented in a manner aimed to attract children, is not permitted even if adults form the largest part of the public likely to see the advertisement.  Of course if, in assessing "manner of presentation", the judge concludes that no children were likely to see the advertisement, it is also unlikely that the means chosen were designed to attract children.  But the factors must all be weighed according to the balance of probabilities.  No presumption is to be drawn by considering the third factor alone.  Read this way, there is nothing inherently confusing or contradictory about ss. 248 and 249.

 

    b. Judicial Discretion

 

    The respondent contended that the test set out in ss. 248 and 249 leaves an inordinately wide discretion in the judge to determine whether a commercial advertisement was aimed at children.  It cites the Introduction to the Application Guide for Sections 248 and 249, which comments on the prohibition against commercial advertising directed at children:

 

[T]he terms of the law can lend to different interpretations, thus allowing for some discretion in its application.  This discretion is evident, for instance, in the determination of precisely what is meant by "intended for children".  Therefore, the Office considers it important to make public the standards it has set to determine whether or not a given advertisement is permitted under the Act.

 

The respondent suggested that this reference to "discretion" made by the very agency charged with administering the statute demonstrates that ss. 248 and 249 are imprecise.

 

    Absolute precision in the law exists rarely, if at all.  The question is whether the legislature has provided an intelligible standard according to which the judiciary must do its work.  The task of interpreting how that standard applies in particular instances might always be characterized as having a discretionary element, because the standard can never specify all the instances in which it applies.  On the other hand, where there is no intelligible standard and where the legislature has given a plenary discretion to do whatever seems best in a wide set of circumstances, there is no "limit prescribed by law".

 

    Sections 248 and 249 do provide an intelligible standard to be applied in determining whether an advertisement is subject to restriction.  According to s. 248, the advertisement must have commercial content and it must be aimed at those under thirteen years of age.  As explained above, s. 249 directs the judge to weigh three factors relating to the context in which the advertisement was presented.  The courts are not simply given a discretion to ban whichever advertisements they please.  In order to help advertisers comply with the ss. 248 and 249 standards, the Office de la protection du consommateur developed a more detailed series of guidelines which are not binding on the courts.  One cannot infer from the existence of the guidelines that the courts have no intelligible standard to apply.  One can only infer that the Office found it reasonable, as part of its mandate, to provide a voluntary pre-clearance mechanism allowing advertisers in most cases to substitute administrative decision-making for judicial decision-making.

 

C.   The Relevance of the s. 1  and s. 9.1 Materials

 

    The respondent contended that only evidence of legislative objective contemporary with the adoption of ss. 248 and 249 was relevant to deciding whether these sections constitute a reasonable limit to freedom of expression.  It therefore attacked the relevance of studies post-dating the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act and upon which the government did not rely in adopting the legislation.

 

    Where the basis for its legislation is not obvious, the government must bring forward cogent and persuasive evidence demonstrating that the provisions in issue are justified having regard to the constituent elements of the s. 1  or 9.1 inquiry (see R. v. Oakes, supra, at p. 138).  In showing that the legislation pursues a pressing and substantial objective, it is not open to the government to assert post facto a purpose which did not animate the legislation in the first place (see R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., supra, at p. 335).  However, in proving that the original objective remains pressing and substantial, the government surely can and should draw upon the best evidence currently available.  The same is true as regards proof that the measure is proportional to its objective (see R. v. Edwards Books and Art Ltd., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 713, at p. 769).  It is equally possible that a purpose which was not demonstrably pressing and substantial at the time of the legislative enactment becomes demonstrably pressing and substantial with the passing of time and the changing of circumstances.

 

    The respondent claimed that the legislative debates provide no evidence of the intention of the government in enacting ss. 248 and 249 and therefore argued that all other evidence is superfluous.  Yet, the following statement of the Minister responsible for the legislation, commenting on why the government chose the thirteen-year-old age limit, gives an adequate sense of the general purpose underlying the legislation (Journal des débats, Commissions parlementaires, 3e sess., 31e Lég., Commission permanente des consommateurs, coopératives et institutions financières, Étude du projet de loi no 72 -- Loi sur la protection du consommateur (10), December 12, 1978 -- No. 226, at p. B-9501):

 

    [TRANSLATIONMs. Payette: What we wished to avoid at all costs -- I think in response to an observation by the Office concerning the messages currently broadcast -- was not actually reaching children.  The proposal that pre-school age children be covered by the Bill did not seem adequate in the circumstances.  It seemed to us that thirteen years of age was a good limit.  It is possible that certain children are able to draw distinctions and make choices by the age of twelve.  Certainly from the age of fourteen they are generally able to do so.  So it seemed to us that thirteen, though arbitrary, was fair.

 

    And since we have relied upon a regulatory framework which has been in place for a number of years and which uses the age of thirteen as a cut-off, we adopted that age, on the basis of our experience to date.

 

The question becomes whether the evidence submitted by the government establishes that children under 13 are unable to make choices and distinctions respecting products advertised and whether this in turn justifies the restriction on advertising put into place.  Studies subsequent to the enactment of the legislation can be used for this purpose.

 

    One might wonder why the Attorney General did not tender in evidence certain reports and studies that were used by the government both in enacting the legislation and subsequently in reviewing its operation.  Nor did the Attorney General rely upon the deliberations of the two legislative committees, one convened in 1976 and the other in 1978, which held hearings concerning revisions to the Consumer Protection Act.  In her testimony before the 1978 committee, the Minister made repeated reference to studies conducted for the government and, in particular, to a document tabled with the committee and prepared by the Office de la protection du consommateur respecting the proposed legislation on children's advertising.  None of these materials were filed.  In September 1985, the Federal-Provincial Committee on Advertising Intended for Children prepared a report entitled The Effects of Quebec's Legislation Prohibiting Advertising Intended for Children.  The Attorney General did not see fit to put this report before the Court.  We are left to assess the constitutionality of the legislation on the basis of the material that was filed.

 

D.Whether the s. 1  and s. 9.1 Materials Justify Banning Commercial Advertising Directed at Persons Under Thirteen Years of Age

 

    It is now well established that the onus of justifying the limitation of a right or freedom rests with the party seeking to uphold the limitation, in this case the Attorney General of Quebec, and that the analysis to be conducted is that set forth by Dickson C.J. in R. v. Oakes, supra.

 

    a.  Pressing and Substantial Objective

 

    The first part of the test involves asking whether the objective sought to be achieved by the impugned legislation relates to concerns which are "pressing and substantial in a free and democratic society".  Dickson C.J. explained this requirement in Oakes at pp. 138-39:

 

First, the objective, which the measures responsible for a limit on a Charter  right or freedom are designed to serve, must be "of sufficient importance to warrant overriding a constitutionally protected right or freedom": R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., supra, at p. 352.  The standard must be high in order to ensure that objectives which are trivial or discordant with the principles integral to a free and democratic society do not gain s. 1  protection.  It is necessary, at a minimum, that an objective relate to concerns which are pressing and substantial in a free and democratic society before it can be characterized as sufficiently important.

 

Because we have already found that the plaintiff's activity falls within the sphere of conduct protected by freedom of expression and that the purpose of the legislation is to prohibit particular content of expression in the name of protecting children, it is far from onerous to require that the concern underlying the restrictive legislation be a pressing and substantial one.  Without such a high standard of justification, enshrined rights and freedoms would be stripped of most of their value.

 

    In our view, the Attorney General of Quebec has demonstrated that the concern which prompted the enactment of the impugned legislation is pressing and substantial and that the purpose of the legislation is one of great importance.  The concern is for the protection of a group which is particularly vulnerable to the techniques of seduction and manipulation abundant in advertising.  In the words of the Attorney General of Quebec, [TRANSLATION] "Children experience most manifestly the kind of inequality and imbalance between producers and consumers which the legislature wanted to correct."  The material given in evidence before this Court is indicative of a generalized concern in Western societies with the impact of media, and particularly but not solely televised advertising, on the development and perceptions of young children.  (For example: Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, Decision CRTC 79-320, April 30, 1979, Renewal of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Television and Radio Network Licences, (1979) 113 Can. Gaz., Part I, 3082; Canadian Association of Broadcasters, Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children, op. cit.; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Commercial Acceptance Policy Guideline, see in particular "The CBC and Children's Advertising"; National Association of Broadcasters, Television Code (21st ed. 1980), see in particular "Responsibility Towards Children"; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Advertising Directed at Children: Endorsements in Advertising (1982); and J. J. Boddewyn, Advertising to Children: Regulation and Self-regulation in 40 Countries (1984)).  Broadly speaking, the concerns which have motivated both legislative and voluntary regulation in this area are the particular susceptibility of young children to media manipulation, their inability to differentiate between reality and fiction and to grasp the persuasive intention behind the message, and the secondary effects of exterior influences on the family and parental authority.  Responses to the perceived problems are as varied as the agencies and governments which have promulgated them.  However the consensus of concern is high.

 

    In establishing the factual basis for this generally identified concern, the Attorney General relied heavily upon the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Final Staff Report and Recommendation, In the Matter of Children's Advertising, which contains a thorough review of the scientific evidence on the subject as at 1981.  The Report emerged from a rulemaking proceeding initiated by the FTC.  The Report's assessment both of children's cognitive ability to evaluate television advertising directed at them and of the possible remedies to mitigate the adverse effects of such advertising are relevant here.  One of its principal conclusions is that young children (2-6) cannot distinguish fact from fiction or programming from advertising and are completely credulous when presented with advertising messages (at pp. 34-35):

 

    In summary, the rulemaking record establishes that the specific cognitive abilities of young children lead to their inability to fully understand child-oriented television advertising, even if they grasp some aspects of it.  They place indiscriminate trust in the selling message.  They do not correctly perceive persuasive bias in advertising, and their life experience is insufficient to help them counter-argue.  Finally, the content, placement and various techniques used in child-oriented television commercials attract children and enhance the advertising and the product.  As a result, children are not able to evaluate adequately child-oriented advertising.

 

The Report thus provides a sound basis on which to conclude that television advertising directed at young children is per se manipulative.  Such advertising aims to promote products by convincing those who will always believe.

 

    It is reasonable to extend this conclusion in two ways.  First, it can be extended to advertising in other media.  For example, the OECD Report, op. cit., discusses children's advertising in all media including television, although the greatest body of evidence focusses on the persuasive force of television advertising.  Second, it can be extended to advertising aimed at older children (7-13).  The Attorney General filed a number of studies reaching somewhat different conclusions about the age at which children generally develop the cognitive ability to recognize the persuasive nature of advertising and to evaluate its comparative worth.  The studies suggest that at some point between age seven and adolescence, children become as capable as adults of understanding and responding to advertisements.  The majority in the Court of Appeal interpreted this evidence narrowly and found that it only justified the objective of regulating advertising aimed at children six or younger, not the regulation of advertising aimed at children between the ages of seven and thirteen.  They concluded, and we agree, that the evidence was strongest with respect to the younger age category.  Opinion is more divided when children in the older age category are involved.  But the legislature was not obliged to confine itself solely to protecting the most clearly vulnerable group.  It was only required to exercise a reasonable judgment in specifying the vulnerable group.

 

    As Dickson C.J. noted in R. v. Edwards Books and Art Ltd., supra, at pp. 781-82, commenting on the legislative decision to exempt businesses having seven or fewer employees from a Sunday closing rule:

 

    I might add that I do not believe there is any magic in the number seven as distinct from, say, five, ten, or fifteen employees as a cut-off point for eligibility for the exemption.  In balancing the interests of retail employees to a holiday in common with their family and friends against the s. 2 (a) interests of those affected the Legislature engaged in the process envisaged by s. 1  of the Charter .  A "reasonable limit" is one which, having regard to the principles enunciated in Oakes, it was reasonable for the legislature to impose.  The courts are not called upon to substitute judicial opinions for legislative ones as to the place at which to draw a precise line.

 

The same can be said of evaluating competing credible scientific evidence and choosing thirteen, as opposed to ten or seven, as the upper age limit for the protected group here in issue.  Where the legislature mediates between the  competing claims of different groups in the community, it will inevitably be called upon to draw a line marking where one set of claims legitimately begins and the other fades away without access to complete knowledge as to its precise location.  If the legislature has made a reasonable assessment as to where the line is most properly drawn, especially if that assessment involves weighing conflicting scientific evidence and allocating scarce resources on this basis, it is not for the court to second guess.  That would only be to substitute one estimate for another.  In dealing with inherently heterogeneous groups defined in terms of age or a characteristic analogous to age, evidence showing that a clear majority of the group requires the protection which the government has identified can help to establish that the group was defined reasonably.  Here, the legislature has mediated between the claims of advertisers and those seeking commercial information on the one hand, and the claims of children and parents on the other.  There is sufficient evidence to warrant drawing a line at age thirteen, and we would not presume to re-draw the line.  We note that in Ford, supra, at pp. 777-79, the Court also recognized that the government was afforded a margin of appreciation to form legitimate objectives based on somewhat inconclusive social science evidence.

 

    In sum, the objective of regulating commercial advertising directed at children accords with a general goal of consumer protection legislation, viz. to protect a group that is most vulnerable to commercial manipulation.  Indeed, that goal is reflected in general contract doctrine (see, for example, Civil Code of Lower Canada, arts. 987 and 1001 to 1011 respecting contracts with minors).  Children are not as equipped as adults to evaluate the persuasive force of advertising and advertisements directed at children would take advantage of this.  The legislature reasonably concluded that advertisers should be precluded from taking advantage of children both by inciting them to make purchases and by inciting them to have their parents make purchases.  Either way, the advertiser would not be able to capitalize upon children's credulity.  The s. 1  and s. 9.1 materials demonstrate, on the balance of probabilities, that children up to the age of thirteen are manipulated by commercial advertising and that the objective of protecting all children in this age group is predicated on a pressing and substantial concern.  We thus conclude that the Attorney General has discharged the onus under the first part of the Oakes test.

 

    b.  Means Proportional to the Ends

 

    The second part of the s. 1  and s. 9.1 test involves balancing a number of factors to determine whether the means chosen by the government are proportional to its objective.  As Dickson C.J. stated in Edwards Books and Art Ltd., supra, at p. 768:

 

Second, the means chosen to attain those objectives must be proportional or appropriate to the ends.  The proportionality requirement, in turn, normally has three aspects: the limiting measures must be carefully designed, or rationally connected, to the objective; they must impair the right as little as possible; and their effects must not so severely trench on individual or group rights that the legislative objective, albeit important, is nevertheless outweighed by the abridgement of rights.

 

    i.  Rational Connection

 

    There can be no doubt that a ban on advertising directed to children is rationally connected to the objective of protecting children from advertising.  The government measure aims precisely at the problem identified in the s. 1  and s. 9.1 materials.  It is important to note that there is no general ban on the advertising of children's products, but simply a prohibition against directing advertisements to those unaware of their persuasive intent.  Commercial advertisements may clearly be directed at the true purchasers -- parents or other adults.  Indeed, non-commercial educational advertising aimed at children is permitted.  Simply put, advertisers are prevented from capitalizing on the inability of children either to differentiate between fact and fiction or to acknowledge and thereby resist or treat with some skepticism the persuasive intent behind the advertisement.  In the present case, we are of the opinion that the evidence does establish the necessary rational connection between means and objective.  In Ford, by contrast, no rational connection was established between excluding all languages other than French from signs in Quebec and having the reality of Quebec society communicated through the "visage linguistique".

 

    ii.  Minimal Impairment

 

    We turn now to the requirement that "the means, even if rationally connected to the objective . . . should impair `as little as possible' the right or freedom in question": Oakes, supra, at p. 139.  We would note that in this context, the standard of proof is the civil standard, that is, proof on the balance of probabilities.  Furthermore, as Dickson C.J. observed in Oakes, supra, at p. 137:

 

Within the broad category of the civil standard, there exist different degrees of probability depending on the nature of the case: see Sopinka and Lederman, The Law of Evidence in Civil Cases (Toronto: 1974), at p. 385.  As Lord Denning explained in Bater v. Bater, [1950] 2 All E.R. 458 (C.A.), at p. 459:

 

The case may be proved by a preponderance of probability, but there may be degrees of probability within that standard.  The degree depends on the subject-matter.  A civil court, when considering a charge of fraud, will naturally require a higher degree of probability than that which it would require if considering whether negligence were established.  It does not adopt so high a degree as a criminal court, even when it is considering a charge of a criminal nature, but still it does require a degree of probability which is commensurate with the occasion.

 

This observation is particularly relevant to the "minimal impairment" branch of the Oakes proportionality test.  The party seeking to uphold the limit must demonstrate on a balance of probabilities that the means chosen impair the freedom or right in question as little as possible.  What will be "as little as possible" will of course vary depending on the government objective and on the means available to achieve it.  As the Chief Justice wrote in Oakes, supra, at p. 139:

 

Although the nature of the proportionality test will vary depending on the circumstances, in each case courts will be required to balance the interests of society with those of individuals and groups.

 

    Thus, in matching means to ends and asking whether rights or freedoms are impaired as little as possible, a legislature mediating between the claims of competing groups will be forced to strike a balance without the benefit of absolute certainty concerning how that balance is best struck.  Vulnerable groups will claim the need for protection by the government whereas other groups and individuals will assert that the government should not intrude.  In Edwards Books and Art Ltd., supra, Dickson C.J. expressed an important concern about the situation of vulnerable groups (at p. 779):

 

In interpreting and applying the Charter  I believe that the courts must be cautious to ensure that it does not simply become an instrument of better situated individuals to roll back legislation which has as its object the improvement of the condition of less advantaged persons.

 

When striking a balance between the claims of competing groups, the choice of means, like the choice of ends, frequently will require an assessment of conflicting scientific evidence and differing justified demands on scarce resources.  Democratic institutions are meant to let us all share in the responsibility for these difficult choices.  Thus, as courts review the results of the legislature's deliberations, particularly with respect to the protection of vulnerable groups, they must be mindful of the legislature's representative function.  For example, when "regulating industry or business it is open to the legislature to restrict its legislative reforms to sectors in which there appear to be particularly urgent concerns or to constituencies that seem especially needy" (Edwards Books and Art Ltd., supra, at p. 772).

 

    In other cases, however, rather than mediating between different groups, the government is best characterized as the singular antagonist of the individual whose right has been infringed.  For example, in justifying an infringement of legal rights enshrined in ss. 7  to 14  of the Charter , the state, on behalf of the whole community, typically will assert its responsibility for prosecuting crime whereas the individual will assert the paramountcy of principles of fundamental justice.  There might not be any further competing claims among different groups.  In such circumstances, and indeed whenever the government's purpose relates to maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judicial system, the courts can assess with some certainty whether the "least drastic means" for achieving the purpose have been chosen, especially given their accumulated experience in dealing with such questions: see Sunday Times v. United Kingdom (1979), 2 E.H.R.R. 245, at p. 276.  The same degree of certainty may not be achievable in cases involving the reconciliation of claims of competing individuals or groups or the distribution of scarce government resources.

 

    In the instant case, the Court is called upon to assess competing social science evidence respecting the appropriate means for addressing the problem of children's advertising.  The question is whether the government had a reasonable basis, on the evidence tendered, for concluding that the ban on all advertising directed at children impaired freedom of expression as little as possible given the government's pressing and substantial objective.

 

    The strongest evidence for the proposition that this ban impairs freedom of expression as little as possible comes from the FTC Report.  Because the Report found that children are not equipped to identify the persuasive intent of advertising, content regulation could not address the problem.  The Report concluded that the only effective means for dealing with advertising directed at children would be a ban on all such advertising because "[a]n informational remedy would not eliminate nor overcome the cognitive limitations that prevent young children from understanding advertising" (p. 36).  However, the Report also concluded that such a ban could not be implemented either on the basis of audience composition data or on the basis of a definition of "advertising directed at children".  It thus counselled against a ban (at p. 2):

 

[T]he record establishes that the only effective remedy would be a ban on all advertisements oriented toward young children, and such a ban, as a practical matter, cannot be implemented.

 

    The Report gave two reasons why a ban could not be implemented on the basis of audience composition data.  First, according to the Report, viewing audiences were not so sufficiently segmented that one could implement a total ban on advertising during time periods when, on the basis of television ratings,  programming is directed at young children.  Only one network program was identified as attracting a viewing audience composed, over 30 per cent, by young children.  Second, if the percentage were relaxed to, say, 20 per cent, a total ban on advertising would catch too many non-children and would still fail to catch all programs frequently watched by young children (at pp. 39-41):

 

The data indicate that if either a 50% or a 30% audience cutoff figure is used (i.e. when young children constitute 50% or 30% of the actual viewing audience), advertising on only one network program (Captain Kangaroo) would be affected.  Advertising on more programs would be included in a ban only if the cutoff figure were lowered to 20%.  However, the staff believes that utilizing a 20% cutoff figure would not be advisable because the use of such a low cutoff figure would affect the viewing of the 80% of the audience who are not young children and who do not have their cognitive limitations . . . .

 

    Staff believes that implementing a ban utilizing a 20% figure would not be advisable because the ban's scope would still be underinclusive from the standpoint of advertising affected and the proportion of the child's total television viewing affected . . . Further analysis of viewing data for young children (two to five) indicates more specifically that if a 20% cutoff figure were used, advertising on only 24 network programs would be affected, 22 of which are shown on Saturday or Sunday mornings.  The use of a 20% figure would not include advertising on child-oriented programs shown during other time periods.  Only 13% of a young child's weekly viewing of television occurs on weekend mornings.

 

    Because the FTC Report focussed on the effect of advertising aimed at young children (2-6) and proceeded on the basis that advertising directed at older children (7-13) did not pose a problem, it concluded, reasonably enough, that no definition could distinguish adequately between advertising directed at young children and advertising directed at older children (at pp. 44-45):

 

[The preliminary] Staff Report suggested a definition of "advertising directed to children" based on program design.  A remedy based on this definition would ban advertising "in or adjacent to programs that have been designated as children's programs using some a priori judgments."  The major and inherent drawback to this definition is that it does not distinguish between programs designed for younger children and those designed for older children . . . .

 

    The lack of specificity in categorizing children's programs as being primarily for two-six year olds appears to coincide with the industry's practice of not directing advertisements solely to young children.  For instance, CBS stated: "while certain advertisers who use television may wish to address young viewers, they rarely, if ever, limit their appeal to the young children alone."

 

    Sections 248 and 249 preserve the rationale for a ban contained in the FTC Report at the same time as overcoming the practical limitations suggested therein.  The sections contemplate a larger age group than that envisaged by the FTC Report, and always allow advertising aimed at adults, thereby avoiding the difficulties identified in the Report both with a ban based on audience composition and with a ban based on the definition of "advertising directed to children".  The Application Guide for Sections 248 and 249 helps to illustrate this.  It specifies a number of time periods during the day when, based on Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) statistics, over 15 per cent of the audience is made up of children aged 2 to 11.  It was possible to arrive at these time periods despite the FTC's arguments precisely because a larger target group was specified.  Furthermore, using this larger target group, it was possible for the Office de la protection du consommateur to identify products and advertising methods aimed at children.  In this way, the 15 per cent cut-off does not serve to justify a ban on all advertising (as the 20 per cent cut-off discussed by the FTC was designed to do).  By specifying categories of (1) products, (2) advertisements and (3) audience, the Guide allows for a sophisticated appraisal of when an advertisement is aimed at children.  These three categories are drawn directly from s. 249 and their elaboration by the Office is an attempt to perform the same balancing test required of the courts.  Three categories of products are specified: (1) those aimed exclusively at children (toys, and certain candies and foods); (2) those having a large attraction for children (certain cereals, desserts and games); and (3) those aimed at adults.  Four categories of advertisements are specified: (1) those not likely to interest children; (2) those not designed to interest children; (3) those directed only partly to children; and (4) those aimed mainly at children.  Three categories of audience are specified: (1) children compose over 15 per cent; (2) children compose between 5 per cent and 15 per cent; and (3) children compose less than 5 per cent.  On this basis, the Guide sets forth a table according to which different kinds of advertisements for the various product categories will be permitted depending upon audience composition.  There is a system of pre-clearance run by a committee of the Office which helps advertisers to determine whether any given commercial is subject to the ban.

 

    While ss. 248 and 249 do not incorporate all the details included in the Guide, they do put into place the framework for a practicable ban on advertising directed at children.  The courts, rather than the Office de la protection du consommateur, are left with the final word as to whether, for example, the strictest limit on advertising should apply where children compose over 15 per cent of the audience rather than, for example, 20 per cent.  But if a ban is the only effective means to achieve the legislative objective, and if such a ban can only be implemented using a flexible balancing test, the legislature cannot be faulted for leaving that balancing to the courts.  Indeed, this should help to ensure that minimal impairment of free expression is a constant factor in the application of the law.

 

    Of course, despite the FTC Report's conclusions to the contrary, the respondent argued that a ban was not the only effective means for dealing with the problem posed by children's advertising.  In particular, it pointed to the self-regulation mechanism provided by the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children as an obvious alternative and emphasized that Quebec was unique among industrialized countries in banning advertising aimed at children (see Boddewyn, op. cit.)   The latter assertion must be qualified in two respects.  First, as of 1984, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Sweden did not allow any commercials on television and radio.  Second, throughout Canada, as in Italy, the public network does not accept children's commercials (except, in the case of the CBC, during "family programs").  Consequently, Quebec's ban on advertising aimed at children is not out of proportion to measures taken in other jurisdictions.  Nor is legislative action to protect vulnerable groups necessarily restricted to the least common denominator of actions taken elsewhere.  Based on narrower objectives than those pursued by Quebec, some governments might reasonably conclude that self-regulation is an adequate mechanism for addressing the problem of children's advertising.  But having identified advertising aimed at persons under thirteen as per se manipulative, the legislature of Quebec could conclude, just as reasonably, that the only effective statutory response was to ban such advertising.

 

    In sum, the evidence sustains the reasonableness of the legislature's conclusion that a ban on commercial advertising directed to children was the minimal impairment of free expression consistent with the pressing and substantial goal of protecting children against manipulation through such advertising.  While evidence exists that other less intrusive options reflecting more modest objectives were available to the government, there is evidence establishing the necessity of a ban to meet the objectives the government had reasonably set.  This Court will not, in the name of minimal impairment, take a restrictive approach to social science evidence and require legislatures to choose the least ambitious means to protect vulnerable groups.  There must nevertheless be a sound evidentiary basis for the government's conclusions.  In Ford, there was no evidence of any kind introduced to show that the exclusion of all languages other than French was necessary to achieve the objective of protecting the French language and reflecting the reality of Quebec society.  What evidence was introduced established, at most, that a marked preponderance for the French language in the "visage linguistique" was proportional to that objective.  The Court was prepared to allow a margin of appreciation to the government despite the fact that less intrusive measures, such as requiring equal prominence for the French language, were available.  But there still had to be an evidentiary basis for concluding that the means chosen were  proportional to the ends and impaired freedom of expression as little as possible.  In Ford, that evidentiary basis did not exist.

 

    iii.  Deleterious Effects

 

    There is no suggestion here that the effects of the ban are so severe as to outweigh the government's pressing and substantial objective.  Advertisers are always free to direct their message at parents and other adults.  They are also free to participate in educational advertising.  The real concern animating the challenge to the legislation is that revenues are in some degree affected.  This only implies that advertisers will have to develop new marketing strategies for children's products.  Thus, there is no prospect that "because of the severity of the deleterious effects of [the] measure on individuals or groups, the measure will not be justified by the purposes it is intended to serve" (Oakes, at p. 140).  The final component of the proportionality test is easily satisfied.  In Ford, by contrast, the Attorney General of Quebec underscored the importance of the "visage linguistique" for francophone identity and culture and yet the effect of the measure taken was to prohibit the public manifestation of the identity and culture of non-francophones.

 

    c.  Conclusion

 

    Based on the s. 1  and s. 9.1 materials, we conclude that ss. 248 and 249 constitute a reasonable limit upon freedom of expression and would accordingly uphold the legislation under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  and s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter.

 

VIII -  Whether ss. 248 and 249 Violate s. 7  of the Canadian Charter 

 

    One issue remains to be considered.  The respondent alleges that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act infringe s. 7  of the Charter .  The legislation contemplates a possible restriction to liberty which could occur, so the argument goes, in a manner not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.  The respondent submits that s. 278 of the Consumer Protection Act, read together with ss. 248 and 249, provides for penal sanctions based on a prohibition which is impermissibly vague.  The appellant takes no position on the question of whether the principles of fundamental justice give rise to "vagueness doctrine".  Its submission is simply that the law is not vague -- a submission which was accepted by Vallerand J.A., the only justice in the court below to deal with the question.

 

    We have determined in the context of the s. 1  discussion that ss. 248 and 249 are not vague in terms of either confusion and contradiction or judicial discretion.  Thus, there could only be a further challenge under s. 7  if a stricter vagueness test were applied to the penal sanction.

 

    There is, however, an issue logically prior to that of vagueness, namely whether corporations can invoke s. 7  of the Charter  in their aid.  In order to properly understand the submissions of the respondent in this regard, we reproduce here the statutory scheme of penalties against contraventions of ss. 248 and 249.

 

278.  Every person other than a corporation who is guilty of an offence constituting a prohibited practice or who infringes paragraph b, c, d, e or f of section 277 is liable

 

                            (a) for the first offence, to a fine of two hundred dollars to five thousand dollars;

 

                            (b) for a subsequent offence to the same provision of this act or a regulation committed within a period of two years, to a fine of four hundred dollars to ten thousand dollars, to imprisonment for not more than six months, or to both a fine and imprisonment.

 

    A corporation guilty of an offence contemplated in the preceding paragraph is liable to a minimum fine five times greater and to a maximum fine ten times greater than those provided for in the preceding paragraph.

 

Section 215 establishes that ss. 248 and 249 constitute "prohibited practices" within the meaning of the above section:

 

215.  Any practice contemplated in sections 219 to 251 constitutes a prohibited practice for the purposes of this title.

 

282.  Where a corporation is guilty of an offence against this act or any regulation, every director or representative of such corporation who had knowledge of the said offence is deemed to be a party to the offence and is liable to the penalty provided for in section 278 or 279 for a person other than a corporation, unless he establishes to the  satisfaction of the court that he did not acquiesce in the commission of such offence.

 

Imprisonment is clearly one of the penalties envisioned for contravention of, inter alia, ss. 248 and 249 of the Act.  A corporation is not, for obvious reasons, subject to imprisonment.  By virtue of s. 282 of the Act, directors of corporations are deemed to be parties to offences committed by the corporation and are therefore liable to the penalties listed above.  It is, therefore, the directors and representatives of corporations who risk, pursuant to the Act, a restriction of liberty of the kind envisioned in Re B.C. Motor Vehicle Act, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 486.  In the present case, proceedings are brought only against the company and not against any individuals.  In the context of physical restriction to liberty, it would be left to officers of a company whose conduct was impugned pursuant to s. 282 of the Act to raise a s. 7  argument in terms of vagueness or imputation of corporate liability to individuals.  This circumstance does not arise in the present case.

 

    In order to put forward a s. 7  argument in a case of this kind where the officers of the corporation are not named as parties to the proceedings, the corporation would have to urge that its own life, liberty or security of the person was being deprived in a manner not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.  In our opinion, a corporation cannot avail itself of the protection offered by s. 7  of the Charter .  First, we would have to conceive of a manner in which a corporation could be deprived of its "life, liberty or security of the person".  We have already noted that it is nonsensical to speak of a corporation being put in jail.  To say that bankruptcy and winding up proceedings engage s. 7  would stretch the meaning of the right to life beyond recognition.  The only remaining argument is that corporations are protected against deprivations of some sort of "economic liberty".

 

    There are several reasons why we are of the view that this argument can not succeed.  It is useful to reproduce s. 7 , which reads as follows:

 

    7.  Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

 

What is immediately striking about this section is the inclusion of "security of the person" as opposed to "property".  This stands in contrast to the classic liberal formulation, adopted, for example, in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments in the American Bill of Rights, which provide that no person shall be deprived "of life, liberty or property, without due process of law".  The intentional exclusion of property from s. 7 , and the substitution therefor of "security of the person" has, in our estimation, a dual effect.  First, it leads to a general inference that economic rights as generally encompassed by the term "property" are not within the perimeters of the s. 7  guarantee.  This is not to declare, however, that no right with an economic component can fall within "security of the person".  Lower courts have found that the rubric of "economic rights" embraces a broad spectrum of interests, ranging from such rights, included in various international covenants, as rights to social security, equal pay for equal work, adequate food, clothing and shelter, to traditional property -- contract rights.  To exclude all of these at this early moment in the history of Charter  interpretation seems to us to be precipitous.  We do not, at this moment, choose to pronounce upon whether those economic rights fundamental to human life or survival are to be treated as though they are of the same ilk as corporate-commercial economic rights.  In so stating, we find the second effect of the inclusion of "security of the person" to be that a corporation's economic rights find no constitutional protection in that section.

 

    That is, read as a whole, it appears to us that this section was intended to confer protection on a singularly human level.  A plain, common sense reading of the phrase "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person" serves to underline the human element involved; only human beings can enjoy these rights.  "Everyone" then, must be read in light of the rest of the section and defined to exclude corporations and other artificial entities incapable of enjoying life, liberty or security of the person, and include only human beings.  In this regard, the case of R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., supra, is of no application.  There are no penal proceedings pending in the case at hand, so the principle articulated in Big M Drug Mart is not involved.

 

IX -  Disposition and Answers to Constitutional Questions

 

    For these reasons the appeal is allowed with costs and the constitutional questions are answered as follows:

 

1.Is s. 364 of the Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q., c. P-40.1, added by s. 1 of An Act respecting the Constitution Act, 1982, S.Q. 1982, c. 21, inconsistent with the provisions of s. 33  of the Constitution Act, 1982  and so ultra vires and of no force or effect to the extent of the inconsistency pursuant to s. 52(1) of the latter Act?

 

Answer:No, except in so far as section 364 is given retrospective effect by section 7 of An Act respecting the Constitution Act, 1982, S.Q. 1982, c. 21.  However, because s. 364 expired on June 23, 1987, there is no valid and subsisting override provision.

 

2.If question 1 is answered in the affirmative, do ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act infringe the rights, freedoms and guarantees contained in ss. 2 (b) and 7  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , and if so, can those sections be justified under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ?

 

Answer:Sections 248 and 249 infringe s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter but are justified under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  and s. 9.1 of the Quebec CharterSection 7  of the Canadian Charter  cannot be invoked by the respondent.

 

3.Are ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act ultra vires the legislature of the province of Quebec, or are they to some degree of no force or effect under s. 3 of the Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-11?

 

Answer:No.

 

//McIntyre J.//

 

    The reasons of Beetz and McIntyre JJ. were delivered by

 

    MCINTYRE J. (dissenting) -- I have had the advantage of reading the reasons for judgment prepared in this appeal by the majority.  They have set out the facts and the statutory provisions and regulations which are under consideration here and I need not repeat them.  They have also set out the constitutional questions that were settled by Beetz J. which frame the issues arising in this case.

 

    I would agree with my colleagues in their answer to the first question, to the effect that because of the expiration of s. 364 of the Consumer Protection Act, R.S.Q. c. P-40.1 there is no valid and subsisting override provision affecting the disposition of this case.   I would agree as well with the answer to Question 3, to the effect that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act are not ultra vires the legislature of Quebec nor deprived of effect under s. 3 of the Broadcasting Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. B-11.   My point of disagreement with my colleagues arises from their answer to the second question.   While I agree with them that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act infringe s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter, I do not agree that they may be justified under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter  or s. 9(1) of the Quebec Charter.

 

    I would not wish in these reasons to attempt to set out the limits of the application of s. 2 (b) of the Charter  and to define in general  terms the extent of the protected activity under s. 2 (b).   I would content myself by observing that this Court in Ford v. Quebec (Attorney General), [1988] 2 S.C.R. 712, has held that commercial expression has the protection of s. 2 (b).   At pages 766-67, it was said:

 

Given the earlier pronouncements of this Court to the effect that the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Canadian Charter  should be given a large and liberal interpretation, there is no sound basis on which commercial expression can be excluded from the protection of s. 2 (b) of the Charter .    It is worth noting that the courts below applied a similar generous and broad interpretation to include commercial expression within the protection of freedom of expression contained in s. 3 of the Quebec Charter.   Over and above its intrinsic value as expression, commercial expression which, as has been pointed out, protects listeners as well as speakers plays a significant role in enabling individuals to make informed economic choices, an important aspect of individual self-fulfillment and personal autonomy.   The Court accordingly rejects the view that commercial expression serves no individual or societal value in a free and democratic society and for this reason is undeserving of any constitutional protection.

 

It is evident then that ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act restrict forms of expression which fall within the protection of s. 2 (b).   Since I agree that the two sections in their prohibition of advertising aimed at children infringe the s. 2 (b) right, the only question in issue is whether the sections can be justified as reasonable limits under s. 1  of the Charter .

 

The Importance of Freedom of Expression

 

    Freedom of expression under s. 2 (b) is guaranteed as a fundamental freedom.  Its importance and its value are surely beyond question.   My colleagues have recognized this and referred to various authorities which recognize the importance of the principle.  They have referred to the words of Cardozo J. in Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937), at p. 327, which describe the concept as "the matrix, the indispensible condition of nearly every other form of freedom" and, as well, to those of Rand J. in Switzman v. Elbling, [1957] S.C.R. 285, at p. 306, that it was "little less vital to man's mind and spirit than breathing is to his physical existence".   They referred to other authorities on the subject.   I would observe, as well, that freedom of expression has long been recognized in Canada as a principle of fundamental importance and even before the adoption of the Charter , the courts of this country had elevated the principle to virtual constitutional status (see RWDSU v. Dolphin Delivery Ltd., [1986] 2 S.C.R. 573, at pp. 584-86).

 

Section 1 

 

    It is settled that to override a constitutional guarantee a government supporting a limitation imposed by law must show a purpose or objective of pressing and substantial importance.   Certainly, the promotion of the welfare of children is an objective of pressing and substantial concern for any government.

 

    Can it be said that the welfare of children is at risk because of advertising directed at them?   I am not satisfied that any case has been shown that it is.    There was evidence that small children are incapable of distinguishing fact from fiction in advertising.   This is hardly surprising:  many adults have the same problem.   Children, however, do not remain children.  They grow up and, while advertising directed at children may well be a source of irritation to parents, no case has been shown here that children suffer harm.   Children live in a world of fiction, imagination and make believe.  Children's literature is based upon these concepts.    As they mature, they make adjustments and can be expected to pass beyond the range of any ill which might be caused by advertising.   In my view, no case has been made that children are at risk.    Furthermore, even if I could reach another conclusion, I would be of the view that the restriction fails on the issue of proportionality.   A total prohibition of advertising aimed at children below an arbitrarily fixed age makes no attempt at the achievement of proportionality.

 

    In conclusion, I would say that freedom of expression is too important to be lightly cast aside or limited.   It is ironic that most attempts to limit freedom of expression and hence freedom of knowledge and information are justified on the basis that the limitation is for the benefit of those whose rights will be limited.   It was this proposition that motivated the early church in restricting access to information, even to prohibiting the promulgation and reading of the scriptures in a language understood by the people.   The argument that freedom of expression was dangerous was used to oppose and restrict public education in earlier times.   The education of women was greatly retarded on the basis that wider knowledge would only make them dissatisfied with their role in society.   I do not suggest that the limitations imposed by ss. 248 and 249 are so earth shaking or that if sustained they will cause irremediable damage.   I do say, however, that these limitations represent a small abandonment of a principle of vital importance in a free and democratic society and, therefore, even if it could be shown that some child or children have been adversely affected by advertising of the kind prohibited, I would still be of the opinion that the restriction should not be sustained.   Our concern should be to recognize that in this century we have seen whole societies utterly corrupted by the suppression of free expression.   We should not lightly take a step in that direction, even a small one.

 

    It must be recognized that freedom of expression despite its singular importance is, like all rights, subject to limitations.   It is not absolute.   We have all heard the familiar statement that nobody has a right to shout "fire" in a crowded theatre.   It illustrates the extreme and obvious case, but there will, of course, be other cases where limitations on the right may well be necessary and therefore justifiable.   This, however, in my view, is not such a case.   Freedom of expression, whether political, religious, artistic or commercial, should not be suppressed except in cases where urgent and compelling reasons exist and then only to the extent and for the time necessary for the protection of the community.

 

    In my view, no justification can be found under s. 1  of the Charter  for these sections, and I would dismiss the appeal and answer constitutional Question No. 2 as follows:

 

2.If question 1 is answered in the affirmative, do ss. 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act infringe the rights, freedoms and guarantees contained in ss. 2 (b) and 7  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , and if so, can those sections be justified under s. 1  of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ?

 

Answer:Sections 248 and 249 of the Consumer Protection Act infringe s. 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter  and s. 3 of the Quebec Charter and are not justified under s. 1 of the of the Canadian Charter  and s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter.   In agreement with the majority, s. 7  of the Canadian Charter  cannot be invoked by the respondent.

 

    Appeal allowed with costs, BEETZ and McINTYRE JJ. dissenting.

 

    Solicitors for the appellant:  Jean-K. Samson and Yves de Montigny, Ste-Foy.

 

    Solicitors for the respondent:  Heenan, Blaikie, Montréal; Robert, Dansereau, Barré, Marchessault & Lauzon, Montréal.

 

    Solicitors for the intervener Gilles Moreau:  Valois & Associés, Montréal.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General for Ontario:  Richard F. Chaloner, Toronto.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General for New Brunswick:  Gordon F. Gregory, Fredericton.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General of British Columbia:  The Attorney General of British Columbia, Victoria.

 

    Solicitor for the intervener the Attorney General for Saskatchewan:  Brian Barrington-Foote, Regina.

 

    Solicitors for the interveners Pathonic Communications Inc. and Réseau Pathonic Inc.:  Ogilvy, Renault, Montréal.

 

    Solicitors for the intervener the Coalition contre le retour de la publicité destinée aux enfants:  Legros & Lajoie, Anjou.

 



      * Estey and Le Dain JJ. took no part in the judgment.

 

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