R. v. G.L., 2023 ONCA 750, NOVEMBER 10, 2023.
FACTS: The accused was convicted of the offence of sexual assault. He appealed from conviction, arguing that the trial judge erred in finding that he had territorial jurisdiction. At the trial, the complainant had testified that the offence took place in Ontario or Quebec.
HELD: The appeal was dismissed. The Ontario Court of Appeal concluded that the Ontario court had territorial jurisdiction (at paragraphs 31 to 34):
In this case… even if the sexual acts took place in Quebec, there is nevertheless a real and substantial connection between Ontario and the offence. Indeed, the first circumstance recognized in Bigelow is relevant. There is a continuum between Ontario and Quebec in the commission of the offence. Both E.J. and the appellant were residents of Ontario at the time. The relationship between E.J. and the Appellant developed in Ontario. According to E.J.’s testimony, he was alone camping with the appellant, suggesting that it was the appellant who brought him from Ontario camping to Quebec. Indeed, E.J.’s mother testified that the appellant took his nephews camping without other adults. Thus, even though the appellant took E.J. camping in Quebec at the time of the sexual assault, E.J. was in his care and control from Ontario. Moreover, the third circumstance recognized in Bigelow is also relevant because E.J. experienced the effects of the offence in Ontario.
In particular, s. 478(1) of the Criminal Code provides that “subject to this Act”, a court in Ontario does not have territorial jurisdiction over an offence committed entirely in another province. In addition, s. 478(1) of the Criminal Code must be read in conjunction with art. 476(b), which provides that the court in Ontario has territorial jurisdiction if an offence is commenced in one “district and consummated in another”.
In a case such as this, where the location of the sexual acts is uncertain but there is a real and substantial connection between the offence and Ontario, it is appropriate for the court to conclude that it has territorial jurisdiction. Otherwise, despite the fact that the essential elements of the offence have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt and that there is a real and substantial connection between the offence and Ontario, there is a risk that the appellant would not be able to prosecute that offence in Quebec or Ontario. That would be an unacceptable result.
Accordingly, in these circumstances, I see no error in the trial judge’s finding that the court in Ontario has territorial jurisdiction and in his granting of leave to amend the count.