An application for judicial review of two regulations authorizing the Minister of Natural Resources to reinstitute a spring bear hunt in eight Wildlife Management Units (“WMU”) in northern Ontario and of the Minister’s decision implementing the hunt in the form of a two-year pilot program. The applicants challenged the regulations as ultra vires; they challenge the Minister’s decision as unreasonable.
Prior to 1999 a black bear hunt season used to occur every spring in Ontario. Killing bear cubs was prohibited during this spring hunt. It was also prohibited to kill female bears with cubs. However, mother bears were still killed during the spring bear hunt because of the difficulty in distinguishing between female and male black bears.
The then Minister eventually canceled the spring bear hunt in 1999, explicitly citing the killing of mother bears as the main reason for doing so. In 2014, the MNR issued a press release proposing a two year bear management pilot program in specified areas in northern Ontario, all of which had reported high levels of nuisance bear activity.
The applicants argued that the Minister failed to comply with statutory conditions precedent before the regulations were issued, namely proper consideration of the Statement of Environmental Values and the requirement to conduct an Environmental Assessment. The applicants also argued that the regulations were ultra vires for conflicting with the Criminal Code, thereby engaging the constitutional doctrine of federal paramountcy. Finally, the applicants submitted that the Minister’s decision to implement the hunt was unreasonable and made in bad faith.
The Court addressed all the issues and dismissed the application for judicial review.
Source: Case Law