Supreme Court of Canada clears Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of contempt charges. After four years of legal process: “One of the things that I’ve learned…is we have a problem in Quebec and Canada, in terms of access to the justice system.”

Bravo Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois for working so long and hard to protect Canadians’ Charter right to freedom of expression!


Supreme Court of Canada Judgement

36351 Jean-François Morasse c. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois – et – Association canadienne des libertés civiles, Alberta Public Interest Research Group et Amnistie internationale, Section Canada francophone (Qc)

2016 SCC 44 / 2016 CSC 44

Joint Reasons for Judgment: (paras. 1 to 45)


Concurring Reasons: (paras. 46 to 52)


Dissenting Reasons: (paras. 53 To 133)

Abella and Gascon JJ. (McLachlin C.J. and Cromwell and Karakatsanis JJ. concurring)


Moldaver J.



Wagner J. (Côté and Brown JJ. concurring)

… The power to find an individual guilty of contempt of court is an exceptional one. It is an enforcement power of last resort and the only civil proceeding in Quebec that may result in a penalty of imprisonment. Because of the potential impact on an individual’s liberty, the formalities for contempt proceedings must be strictly complied with. Clear, precise and unambiguous notice of the specific contempt offence must be given to the accused, and the elements required for a conviction must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A conviction for contempt should only be entered where it is genuinely necessary to safeguard the administration of justice. …

Video at link: Former student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois cleared of contempt charges by CTV Montreal, October 27, 2016, CTV News

From the video, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois:

“I’ve learned a lot, I’ve changed a lot. It’s been four years now.

And one of the things that I’ve learned during all this process is we have a problem in Quebec and Canada, in terms of access to the justice system.

I had access to a tribunal, I did a crowd funding campaign to fund my process, even with all those resources, even with all this help, it was a very stressful process for me. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people that don’t have all those privileges.

I’ve learned that…we have to adopt strong measures in terms of access to justice because if it was difficult for me, I can’t imagine how it was for thousands of people across Quebec and Canada that have to face the courts without all the resources that I had.

I’ve learned that our justice system has to be more accessible and I’ve learned that when you defend your beliefs, you can win.”

The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared former Quebec student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of contempt charges.

Nadeau-Dubois was a key player in the red-square, tuition-fee protests of 2012, when the Quebec government planned to hike tuition fees.

The case involved comments he made in an interview with Radio-Canada when he said it was legitimate to picket classes and take the necessary means to enforce the strike vote.


The complainant, former Laval University student Jean-François Morasse, obtained an injunction to attend classes and argued that Nadeau-Dubois incited disobedience.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Nadeau-Dubois Thursday in a split decision, invalidating his previous conviction for contempt of court.

“Public figures in social movements have to have freedom of speech, and they have to have the right to criticize a court order if they disapprove with it,” said Nadeau-Dubois, reacting to the decision. “It’s not my victory. It’s not a victory for myself or for my ego, it’s a victory for freedom of speech, for all the people in Quebec and Canada that want to mobilize to have a more fair society.”

His lawyer pleaded that he exercised his freedom of expression and that he was not aware of Morasse’s injunction.

The court also ruled that the student leader did not explicitly urge students to block classes.
In November 2012, a Quebec Superior Court Justice Jacques Denis sentenced Nadeau-Dubois to 120 hours of community service, saying the student leader advocated anarchy.
That ruling was overturned in January 2015, when three judges overturned the initial ruling.

Morasse sought an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which was granted in October.
Dubois said he was personally relieved by the decision.

“This morning was probably the most stressful morning of my life, even more stressful than what I went through in 2012,” he said. “Contempt of court is a serious offense that it should be dealt with very cautiously.”

[Emphasis added]

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois didn’t incite students to break injunction, top court rules, Court case dates back to the student protests of 2012, when Nadeau-Dubois was leader of student group by Kamila Hinkson, CBC News, Oct 27, 2016

The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned a lower court ruling that found former student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois guilty of contempt of court.

After four years of legal proceedings, the Supreme Court of Canada has cleared former Quebec student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of contempt of court.

The court case relates to comments Nadeau-Dubois made in an interview with Radio-Canada during the student protests that rocked the province in 2012.

The country’s top court ruled that when Nadeau-Dubois, then the leader of a hardline student organization, said it was “legitimate” to picket classes, he didn’t incite students to break a court injunction obtained by a university student who wanted to ensure he could still attend his classes.

The majority decision, issued Thursday, found it was never proven that Nadeau-Dubois’s comments specifically referenced the injunction.

The judges also said that while Nadeau-Dubois referred to picket lines, he never explicitly urged students to block classes.

During a morning news conference, Nadeau-Dubois said he was more stressed Thursday morning than he ever was during the protests and that a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

He was comforted, he said, by the fact the judges didn’t see his comments as an affront to the injunction.

“This morning’s victory isn’t my victory. It’s a victory for citizen movements, a victory for social movements, a victory for the spokespeople for those movements,” he said.

“It’s bigger than me. It’s a good day for democracy.”

The background

In May 2012, with tensions high in Quebec, Laval University student Jean-François Morasse obtained an injunction to make sure he would able to attend his classes at the school.

Weeks later, Nadeau-Dubois, then the spokesman for the student group CLASSE, told Radio-Canada it was “legitimate” for students to picket classrooms.

“We find it perfectly legitimate for people to do what they have to do to enforce the strike vote, and if that takes picket lines, we think it’s a perfectly legitimate way to do it,” he said.

The Quebec student protests lasted for months in 2012.

Morasse contended that Nadeau-Dubois’s comments incited students to break the court-ordered injunction and constituted contempt of court.

In November 2012, a Quebec Superior Court judge agreed and Nadeau-Dubois was sentenced to 120 hours of community service.

Appeal to the top court

However, in January 2015, Quebec’s Court of Appeal overturned that ruling. Three justices ruled in favour of Nadeau-Dubois, and he was acquitted.

Morasse sought leave to appeal the decision to the top court, which was granted last October. [6 months after Supreme Court of Canada granted Ernst leave to appeal]

Writing for the majority, Justices Clément Gascon and Rosalie Abella said when it came to Nadeau-Dubois’s comments, picketing falls short of blocking access to classes, which would have contravened the injunction.

“At most, merely saying that picketing was legitimate, even if understood as equivalent to barring access, fell far short of encouraging others to engage in unlawful conduct,” the ruling reads.

In an interview with Radio-Canada, Morasse said Thursday he was proud of what he accomplished.

“It was a battle that many of us waged and we got a lot of financing and support. The simple fact to have been heard by the Supreme Court of Canada is a victory,” he said.

Nadeau-Dubois said he never took the proceedings personally and therefore doesn’t hold anything against Morasse.

He said he believes both sides were fighting for what they believe in. [Emphasis added]

Supreme court clears Quebec student leader of contempt four years after he gained fame during the 2012 protests by Graeme Hamilton, October 27, 2016, National Post
MONTREAL – Former Quebec student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois has been cleared of contempt of court by Canada’s highest court, which ruled there was no proof he incited members to block access to Université Laval classes during 2012 protests.

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against a former Laval student who had argued Nadeau-Dubois defied a court injunction in a May 2012 television interview.

In the interview with RDI, Nadeau-Dubois, then spokesman for a student group known as CLASSE, said it was “quite unfortunate” that some students had turned to the courts to be able to attend classes during the long-running “strike” to protest a tuition hike.

“So we find it perfectly legitimate for people to do what they have to do to enforce the strike vote, and if that takes picket lines, we think it’s a perfectly legitimate way to do it,” Nadeau-Dubois said.

Jean-François Morasse, a fine-arts student who had recently won an injunction requiring protesters to stop blocking his access to class, brought a contempt-of-court charge against the high-profile student leader.

He was successful in the Court of Quebec, and Nadeau-Dubois was sentenced to 120 hours of community service, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. Morasse decided to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The majority ruling, written by Justices Rosalie Abella and Clément Gascon, found that it had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Nadeau-Dubois was aware of Morasse’s injunction when he gave the interview.

“If Mr. Nadeau-Dubois did not know about the order, he cannot have intended to interfere with it, or encourage others to do so,” they wrote.

The court also said his call for picket lines could have meant peaceful pickets that did not block access to classes.

Writing for the three dissenting judges, Justice Richard Wagner called the 2012 protests “a period of social unrest that was without precedent in the history of Quebec” and said Nadeau-Dubois knew there were injunctions prohibiting blockades.

“To claim that the respondent did not know there were orders whose relevant terms prohibited blocking students’ access to their classes is to totally disregard the contextual evidence before the trial judge,” Wagner wrote.

A jubilant Nadeau-Dubois told reporters the Supreme Court had sent a strong message. “Public figures in social movements have to have freedom of speech, and they have the right to criticize a court order if they disagree with it,” he said. “The Supreme Court says clearly that in May 2012 I did not incite students to violate the court order.”

Amnesty International, which intervened in the case in support of Nadeau-Dubois, called the ruling a victory for freedom of expression.

Image result for freedom of expression canada

[Emphasis added]

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois: la Cour suprême mettra fin au feuilleton jeudi by MÉLANIE MARQUIS, October 26, 2016,

La saga judiciaire opposant le «carré rouge» Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois au «carré vert» Jean-François Morasse est sur le point de prendre fin.

[Refer also to:

2005 11 24 EUB now AER Jim Reid Charter violating, banishment letter, judging Ernst criminal without evidence or charges instead of regulate law violating Encana

2005 11 25: EUB  (now AER) banishment letter by manager Jim Reid to Jessica Ernst, violating her Charter right to freedom of expression, judging her making criminal threats without any evidence, no hearing, no trial, no charges filed by police against Ernst, no fingerprinting of her by police.

2005 12 06: Ernst letter to EUB Jim Reid asking for clarification on banishment and being judged criminal. The EUB returned the letter, unopened, with Canada Post stamping the letter “Refused by Addressee”

2005 12 back XPRESSPOST stamped refused by addressee contains (EUB) Ernst letter to EUB asking clarication re banishment

Eight years later:

2013 09 19 Justice Neil C Wittmann ERCB AER judged Ernst a terrorist in total absence of evidence still gave ERCB complete immunity even for Charter violation

In 2013, Justice Wittmann ruled Ernst has a valid charter claim, but

2014 03 25 Slide from Ernst presentation In Bad Faith in Lethbridge Justice Neil C Wittmann prevent flood of litigants wearing their Charter Clothes

Three more years later …

2016 10 25: Justice Delayed? Ernst Fracking Case Still Awaits Supreme Court Ruling
Alberta landowner’s complex lawsuit has now lasted nine years in total ]

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