A.           General Principles

The application of  the Charter of Rights, a constitutional instrument which takes precedence over legislation passed by governments, to parking laws, begins with a consideration of the distinction in law between criminal or penal law  and regulatory law. One author has written that

While the distinction is not definitive, it is an important element in the contextual approach to determination of fundamental rights. The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that rights that are fundamental in the criminal context may not be in the regulatory context or may have a more restricted ambit[22]. 

The Charter of Rights is, in short, applied rigorously to the criminal law and less so, to regulatory law. The distinguishing features of the two categories of law, criminal and regulatory are succinctly articulated in the reasons for judgment of Mr. Justice Cory in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1991 decision in R.v Wholesale Travel Group.[23]

While criminal offences are usually designed to condemn and punish past, inherently wrongful conduct, regulatory measures are generally directed to the prevention of future harm through the enforcement of minimum standards of conduct and care. 

The kinds of conduct which the criminal law deals with are acts of moral turpitude such as rape, robbery and murder. Regulatory law on the other hand, does not focus on the morality of the acts themselves, but their consequences.[24] Parking infractions fall into this latter category.

Since the Wholesale Travel case, appeal courts have fleshed out the extent to which various rights protected by the Charter apply to regulatory laws.


B.           Security of the Person

Section 7 of the Charter of Rights provides:  

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. 

It is now clear from the case of Rv. Transport Robert  (1973) Ltée (2004)[25] (the flying tire case) that so long as there is no risk of imprisonment, the stigma associated with a contravention and even the severity of the penalty may not invoke the protection of the security of the person extended under section 7 of the Charter. The Court of Appeal in the flying tire case upheld as constitutional the Ontario Highway Traffic Act[26] prohibition against the owner or operator of a commercial vehicle whose wheel became detached while on the roadway, even though the maximum penalty was a fine of $50,000, and the owner or operator was denied any defence of due diligence in avoiding or preventing the detaching of the wheel. 

Both sections 6 of the Regulation 333/07 under the Municipal Act, and the specific and virtually identical Regulation 611/06 under the City of Toronto Act, state that the amount of the AMP established by the  municipality/ City shall not be punitive in nature, shall not exceed the amount reasonably required to promote compliance with a designated by-law and must not exceed $100. Subsection 11(2) of both these Regulations  further clarify that enforcement measures taken in addition to filing a certificate of default in a competent court when an AMP is not paid on time, “shall not be punitive in nature”. As Ontario AMPS Regulations provide that certificates of default may be enforced in the same manner as an order of the court ,[27] the Superior Court of Justice could conceivably order imprisonment if there is a finding of contempt of court based on the person in default having willfully failed to attend as required in the notice of examination, or refusing to answer questions or produce records or documents.[28] The basis for the imprisonment would however,  result from a judicial finding of fault in relation to the default proceedings. As with imprisonment for default under the Provincial Offences Act, enforcement for default of payment in the civil courts would require an intervening hearing in front of a judicial officer before a period of incarceration could be imposed accompanied by the safeguards attached to such a hearing. Courts in Ontario, dealing with parking and speeding infractions under the Provincial Offences Act have concluded that because of the intervention of a judicial hearing, and a necessary finding of willfulness, the risk of imprisonment for default is not “a real possibility.”[29]  This conclusion is reinforced by language in both Regulation 333/07 under the Municipal Act, and Regulation 611/06 under the City of Toronto Act which, as indicated above, explicitly prohibit  punitive penalties and punitive supplementary enforcement measures for default , evidencing a clear legislative direction to the courts to avoid ordering imprisonment. 

Based on the authority of Robert Transport, and the parking and speeding cases dismissing the risk of imprisonment for default of payment as a very remote  possibility, the AMPS established by Regulation 333/07 under the Municipal Act, and Regulation 611/06 under the City of Toronto Act, could expressly deny vehicle owners any defence of due diligence even if the penalty was much higher than $100. The City of Vaughan By-Law has by implication [30] removed the defence of due diligence since the only grounds for cancellation or reduction of the AMP are establishing that the motor vehicle was not parked, standing or stopped as described in the penalty notice, or undue hardship.[31] The Vaughan By-Law only authorizes the Screening or Hearings Officer to cancel or reduce the AMP when the allegation in the AMP notice that the parking, standing or stopping was not in conformity with the By-Law is fully negated by the recipient of the penalty. A due diligence defence would give the recipient of the AMP the right to cancellation or reduction of the AMP even if it could not be proven that the parking, standing or stopping was not fully compliant with the By-Law, provided that the AMP recipient could demonstrate that  he/she had taken reasonable steps to avoid non-compliance with the By-Law. Since the only grounds permitted in the Vaughan By-Law for cancellation or reduction are much narrower than that, due diligence is thereby eliminated by implication. 

Since Chicago has had some 20 years of experience with an administrative penalty system for parking infractions, it is useful as guidance, rather than as binding authority, to examine how their courts have applied their constitutional protections to AMPS, specifically in the area of streamlining the procedure for conducting hearings. The streamlined procedure in Chicago is part of an overall regulatory objective to create greater efficiencies in the enforcement of minor infractions and that appears to be a key objective in the introduction of AMPS for parking infractions in Ontario.  In R.v Fitzpatrick.[32] the Supreme Court of Canada outlined  how both the Canadian and U.S. Supreme Courts had similarly found their procedural fairness protections under their respective constitutions to be subject to valid regulatory schemes. More particularly, the protection against self-incrimination embedded in the U.S. Fifth Amendment and section 7 of the Canadian Charter could not be applied in either country to frustrate regulatory schemes of self-reporting. It is therefore useful to look at how American case law has applied the Fifth Amendment “due process protection” to the summary procedures adopted in Chicago for administrative penalties for parking infractions. 

In the Van Harken case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that the administrative penalty system for parking offences in Chicago did not violate the due process protection even though the system permitted the ticket to speak for the enforcement officer and only required the attendance of the officer if the hearing officer subpoenaed the officer as a witness. The Court reasoned that a cost-benefit analysis justified making the enforcement officers’ attendance exceptional, because if the ticketing officer were required to attend, the number of hearings requested would undoubtedly be higher because recipients of penalties  would think it likely the officer wouldn’t show up – a frequent occurrence at hearings on moving violations. Officers would be required to take time away from issuing violation notices. More hearings officers would be required at additional cost to t