The application by Doe for judicial review of an Order of the Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP to terminate his protection under the Witness Protection Program was allowed and the Assistant Commissioner’s decision terminating witness protection was quashed

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Witness Protection Program – Natural justice – Procedural requirements and fairness – Witnesses – Standard of review – Correctness

John Doe v. Canada (Attorney General), [2006] F.C.J. No. 241, Federal Court, January 27, 2006, Phelan J.

Doe became aware of criminal activities which he reported to the local police. He agreed to assist them in securing evidence for use in the conviction of those involved in the criminal activities. The police put Doe into the Program because of the serious nature of the crime and the violent history of those involved in it. Subsequently, Doe’s witness protection was transferred to the RCMP. Doe’s protection was terminated after he engaged in internet advertising. Doe was not provided with the submissions made by the local police to the RCMP that formed the basis of the termination decision and could not respond to them. Doe applied for judicial review of the Order of the Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP terminating his protection.

The Federal Court allowed Doe’s application. The appropriate standard of review regarding the fairness of the process that resulted in the termination was correctness. The Court noted that Doe was in a vulnerable state and his utility to the authorities was terminated. Doe constituted a burden to the authorities but was dependent on them for his security. Doe had honoured the bargain and expected the authorities to satisfy their end of the bargain. In these circumstances, the expectation and requirements of procedural fairness were high. Doe had been denied procedural fairness and natural justice because he was not allowed to respond to the adverse submissions against him. A clear link existed between the submissions and the impugned decision to terminate the protection.

In the result, the Court quashed the decision of the Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP terminating protection.

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