Court recognizes new principle of fundamental justice

The Ontario Superior Court has ruled that the enforcement provisions of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (OSPCA) , which grant police powers to OSPCA agents and investigators, are unconstitutional because they result in a deprivation of liberty not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Importantly, the Court recognized a novel principle of fundamental justice that “law enforcement bodies must be subject to reasonable standards of transparency and accountability”, and it ruled that the OSPCA, as a law enforcement body, fails to meet this standard.

Arden Beddoes acted as counsel for the Intervener, Animal Justice, with Benjamin Oliphant. Animal Justice focused its submissions on the novel principle of fundamental justice. The Court also concurred with Animal Justice’s submission that the enforcement of animal cruelty legislation requires broad search powers because “animals are uniquely vulnerable; they are frequently kept on private property out of public view; and they cannot report neglect or abuse”.

The Court’s decision can be found here: Boegarts v. Attorney General of Ontario, 2019 ONSC 41