February 14, 2018
Bich, Savard, Mainville
Appeal from an acquittal. Dismissed.
The appellant appeals from a judgment that set aside the respondent’s conviction for having contravened s. 41 of by-law 0280-000 concerning traffic and parking of the Ville de Saint-Jérôme. The appellant argued that since L'Écuyer c. Charlesbourg (Ville de), (C.S., 1988-10-19), SOQUIJ AZ-89021010, J.E. 89-46, the Superior Court has not accepted the defence of reasonable diligence or mistake of fact for a parking offence because it is an absolute liability offence. The wording of the provision is the principal and paramount factor to consider in determining whether it is possible to rebut the presumption of strict liability. The words used in ss. 40, 41, and 103 of the by-law – that is, [translation] “must”, [translation] “it is prohibited”, [translation] “no person may”, and [translation] “every person who contravenes” – do not denote absolute liability. In the absence of clear legislative intent, parking offences must be considered strict liability offences. Moreover, a review of the overall scheme of the by-law indicates that these offences involve no mens rea, and no exclusion of defence is set out. These elements thus lead to the conclusion that in adopting the by-law, the Ville de Saint-Jérôme intended to regulate parking, not proscribe it. Consequently, the alleged offence is a strict liability offence, and it is possible to raise defences of reasonable diligence or mistake of fact. The respondent’s defence of having paid the wrong parking meter was therefore available.
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