By the Court decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada

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Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada have the option of releasing reasons for a unanimous decision anonymously by simply attributing the judgment to "The Court". The practice began around 1979 by Chief Justice Laskin, borrowing from the US Supreme Court practice of anonymizing certain unanimous decisions.[1] Unlike in the US, which uses it primarily for uncontroversial cases, in Canada, it is used almost always for important and controversial cases.[2]

It has been suggested that the practice has been used to give greater authority to the decision by having the entire Court speak as a single voice.[3]

Peter McCormick, a professor of political science at the University of Lethbridge who studies Canada's appellate courts, calls these 'per coram decision," but his terminology is not in general use. McCormick states that there were 9 reported per coram decisions prior to Bora Laskin's term as Chief Justice, 15 reported per coram decisions under Laskin's Chief Justiceship, and 51 reported per coram decisions under Dickson's Chief Justiceship.[4]


The following is a list of anonymous decisions that are attributed to "The Court":

Case name Citation Subject
Quebec (AG) v Blaikie (No 1) [1979] 2 SCR 1016 Minority language rights
Quebec (AG) v Blaikie (No 2) [1981] 1 SCR 312 Language of delegated legislation
Quebec (AG) v Quebec Assn of Protestant School Boards [1984] 2 SCR 66 Minority language education rights
Reference Re Manitoba Language Rights [1985] 1 SCR 721 Language rights
R v Baig [1987] 2 SCR 537 Right to counsel
Ford v Quebec (AG) [1988] 2 SCR 712 Commercial freedom of expression
Devine v Quebec (AG) [1988] 2 SCR 790 Freedom of expression, French language legislation
Tremblay v Daigle [1989] 2 SCR 530 Abortion
Reference Re Milgaard [1992] 1 SCR 866 Wrongful conviction - murder
Reference Re Secession of Quebec [1998] 2 SCR 217 Secession
Del Zotto v Canada [1999] 1 SCR 3
Quebec (Deputy Minister of Revenue) v Nolisair International Inc (Trustee of); Sécurité Saglac (1992) Inc (Trustee of) v Quebec (Deputy Minister of Revenue) [1999] 1 SCR 759
R v Marshall [1999] 3 SCR 533 Aboriginal fishing rights
Reference Re Firearms Act [2000] 1 SCR 783 Gun control
R v Latimer [2001] 1 SCR 3 Cruel and unusual punishment, mercy killings
Smith v Canada (AG) 2001 SCC 88
Privacy Act (Can) (Re) 2001 SCC 89
R v Larivière 2001 SCC 93
United States v Burns 2001 SCC 7 Extradition and execution
Suresh v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) 2002 SCC 1 Torture
Ahani v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) 2002 SCC 2 Torture
R v Powley 2003 SCC 43 Métis hunting rights
R v Blais 2003 SCC 44 Métis hunting rights
Reference Re Same-Sex Marriage 2004 SCC 79 Same-sex marriage
R v RGL 2005 SCC 18
Solski (Tutor of) v Quebec (AG) 2005 SCC 14
Gosselin (Tutor of) v Quebec (AG) 2005 SCC 15
Okwuobi v Lester B Pearson School Board 2005 SCC 16
Provincial Court Judges' Assn of New Brunswick v New Brunswick (Minister of Justice) 2005 SCC 44 Judicial independence
R v Rodrigue 2005 SCC 67
Forum des maires de la Péninsule acadienne v Canada (Food Inspection Agency) 2005 SCC 85
R v Hazout 2006 SCC 42
BCE Inc v 1976 Debentureholders 2008 SCC 69 Nature of the duties of corporate directors in Canadian law.
R v Ahmad 2011 SCC 6 Whether Parliament's decision to limit superior courts from determining questions of disclosure of information pertaining to international relations, national defence or national security invades the core jurisdiction of superior courts
Reference Re Securities Act 2011 SCC 66 Constitutionality of a proposed federal securities regulator.
Reference Re Broadcasting Act 2012 SCC 4 Whether Internet service providers are "broadcasters" when providing access to broadcasting through Internet Corp v Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball Ltd 2012 SCC 9 Conflict of laws
Fundy Settlement v Canada 2012 SCC 14 Taxation and trusts
Canada (AG) v Kane 2012 SCC 64 Standard of review of Public Service Staffing Tribunal decision
Construction Labour Relations v Driver Iron Inc 2012 SCC 65 Judicial review of Alberta Labour Relations Board decision
R v Mailhot 2013 SCC 17 Fairness of charge to jury.
R v Ibanescu 2013 SCC 31 Admissibility of straddle evidence
Reference re Senate Reform 2014 SCC 32 Whether Parliament can unilaterally set fixed terms for Senators — Whether Parliament can unilaterally implement framework for consultative elections for appointments to Senate — Whether Parliament can unilaterally repeal ss. 23(3) and 23(4) of Constitution Act, 1867 requiring that Senators must own land worth $4,000 in province for which they are appointed and have net worth of at least $4,000 — Whether constitutional amendment abolishing Senate may be accomplished by general amending procedure or whether unanimous consent procedure applies
Carter v Canada (AG) 2015 SCC 5 Physician-assisted suicide.
R v Goleski 2015 SCC 6 Burden of proof of proving an "excuse" under s. 794(2) of the Criminal Code
Zurich Insurance Co v Chubb Insurance Co of Canada 2015 SCC 19 Whether specific insurance company is an "insurer" for the purposes of Ontario statutory accident benefits scheme
Caplin v Canada (Justice) 2015 SCC 32 Whether Minister of Justice's surrender via extradition of an accused charged with murder was reasonable
Canada (AG) v Barnaby 2015 SCC 31 Whether Minister of Justice's surrender via extradition of an accused charged with murder was reasonable; Whether extraditing the accused to possibly be subjected to a fourth trial would be contrary to the principles of fundamental justice under s. 7 of the Charter
R v Smith 2015 SCC 34 Whether regulations limiting the lawful possession of medical marijuana to dried forms infringe the right to life, liberty and security of the prison under s. 7 of the Charter; Whether accused has standing to challenge the constitutional validity of provisions under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
R v Cody 2017 SCC 31 Unreasonable delay.
R v Comeau 2018 SCC 15 Interprovincial Trade.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ L'Heureux-Dubé, Claire. "The Dissenting Opinion: Voice of the Future?" 38 Osgoode Hall L.J. 495 at 500
  2. ^ McCormick, Peter. "The Political Jurisprudence of Hot Potatoes" (2002) 13 Nat'l J. Const. L. 271 at 176
  3. ^ Bzdera, Andre. "Comparative Analysis of Federal High Courts: A Political Theory of Judicial Review" (1993) 26 Canadian Journal of Political Science 3 at 25
  4. ^ McCormick, Peter. "The Supervisory Role of the Supreme Court of Canada: Analysis of Appeals from Provincial Courts of Appeal, 1949-1990" (1992), 3(2d) Supreme Court Law Review 1, at p. 27.