Keeping Up Is Hard to Do:
A Trial Judge’s Reading Blog


In R. v. Olson, 2022 SKPC 32, August 12, 2022, Judge Agnew concluded that it does not (at paragraphs 22 to 24):

There are good reasons why Jordan does not apply to provincial offences. In Saskatchewan, whether provincial tickets are dealt with by Justices of the Peace or by Provincial Court Judges, whether the court is called “Traffic Safety Court” or “Provincial Court”, they are all the same: all are in the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan.  Indeed, whether a provincial ticket is heard by a judge or a justice of the peace may simply depend on the location of the court point at which the matter is being heard.  Given that they are all in Provincial Court, they are all competing for the same limited pool of judicial resources as all other matters in this Court.  It defies common sense to suggest that someone who wants to dispute a speeding ticket should have the same priority to a trial date as does someone sitting on remand awaiting trial in Provincial Court for manslaughter.  That, however, is the necessary implication of Jordan applying to provincial offences.  There is nothing in Jordan to suggest that the Supreme Court intended such a result, and I would be loath to read in such an intention, given the illogic that would result.

In addition, as noted above, defendants on provincial tickets do not typically suffer the same restrictions on their liberty, whether by being on release conditions or by being physically held in remand, as may be the case for persons accused of criminal offences.  There are also not typically victims who have suffered tragic losses, who need closure in order to be able to move on with their lives.  These are all features noted by the Supreme Court of Canada in Jordan as important reasons for setting the limits defined in that case.

Counsel for the defendants pointed out that the Charter guarantee to trial within a reasonable time applies to the present offences.  I agree.  That does not mean, however, that what constitutes “a reasonable time” must be the same for provincial offences and criminal offences.  For the above reasons, what constitutes a “reasonable” time to trial for not wearing a mask must necessarily be greater than the reasonable time to trial for an accused on remand awaiting trial for manslaughter.  What that time might be, I do not need to decide in this case: as indicated in the timelines, trials in these matters are currently scheduled to be concluded roughly three months beyond the Jordan limit (the longest, Mr. Monaghan’s oldest ticket, will be just under four months over Jordan).  Whatever the appropriate presumptive ceiling for these charges might be, I am satisfied that it is somewhere beyond the times by which the present matters are expected to be concluded.  Alternatively, if Jordan does not apply, then perhaps there is no presumptive ceiling for provincial tickets, and it may be that the delay regime established by the Supreme Court of Canada in R v Askov1990 CanLII 45 (SCC), [1990] 2 S.C.R. 1199 and R v Morin1992 CanLII 89 (SCC), [1992] 1 S.C.R. 771 would apply.  One of the major factors in determining the outcome of a s. 11(b) issue under those cases was prejudice to the accused.  I note that I have no evidence of prejudice to any of these accused, the onus of providing which would be on them.