Épisode 52 (En anglais): The SCC and the Matter of R. v. Brown and Self-Induced Intoxication

– Juin 2022

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Episode 52: The SCC and the Matter of R. v. Brown and Self-Induced Intoxication
Broadcast Date: June 16, 2022


The Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Brown, 2022 SCC 18, has recently re-invigorated the defence of extreme intoxication. In its decision, the Court finds unconstitutional s.33.1 of the Criminal Code which prohibits a person accused of crimes such as manslaughter, assault or sexual assault, from the use of the defence of self-induced intoxication akin to automatism. Claiming self-induced intoxication akin to automatism allows the accused to demonstrate that they lacked the criminal intent to justify conviction of the crime as well as punishment. 

The Court held that s.33.1, and its wide prohibition, created a regime in which the intent to become intoxicated equated the intent to commit a violent criminal offence. Such a regime violates the principle of fundamental justice of requiring proof of the accused’s criminal intent to find them guilty, as well as the presumption of innocence.

In this timely episode, Sarah A. Inness and Professor Kent Roach will discuss the history of the defence of self-induced intoxication, how it was interpreted and applied in previous cases, its inclusion as Section 33.1 of the Criminal Code, and the potential fallout of the Brown decision for Parliament.


Kent Roach, CM, FRSC  is a Professor of Law at the University of Toronto. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002, appointed as a member of the Order of Canada in 2015 and was awarded the Molson Prize for contributions to the social sciences and humanities in 2017. He is a former clerk to Justice Bertha Wilson. In this talk, Professor Roach will draw on his discussion of Brown and its companion cases that will be included in Criminal Law 8th edition to be published by Irwin Law in August 2022. Professor Roach’s most recent book Canadian Policing: Why and How it Must Change was published by Irwin Law and Delve Publishing on May 16, 2022. He has served as director of research to numerous inquiries and reviews including the Commission of Inquiry into the Bombing of Air India Flight 182 and the Independent Review of the Toronto Police’s Missing Persons Investigations that resulted in the Missing and Missed Report (2021) by Justice Gloria Epstein. He also served on the research advisory committees for the Arar and Ipperwash inquiries both involving review of police conduct. He wrote expert reports on police-government relations for Ontario’s Ipperwash Inquiry and Quebec’s Inquiry into the Protection of Journalist Sources. He served on expert panels convened by the Canadian Council of Academies that produced Policing in the 21st Century: New Policing for New Challenges (2014) and Towards Peace, Harmony and Well-Being: Policing in Indigenous Communities (2019). He was volume lead for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s volume five on the legacy of residential schools for Indigenous people. Acting pro-bono, he represented Aboriginal Legal Services in a number of Supreme Court cases including R. v. Gladue on sentencing and R. v. Golden on police powers. He is the author with Craig Forcese of False Security: The Radicalization of Canadian Anti-Terrorism which won the 2016 Canadian Law and Society best book award. His book Canadian Justice Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colton Boushie Case was short-listed for 2019 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize and his Due Process and Victims’ Rights and the The Supreme Court on Trial were both shortlisted for the Donner Prize.  He is also the author of Remedies for Violations of Human Rights published by Cambridge University Press in 2021 and of the Criminal Law and with Robert J. Sharpe The Charter of Rights Freedoms both in their 7th editions and published as part of Irwin Law’s Essentials in Canadian Law series.

“Freedom Convoy” Occupation Highlights Canada’s Security Challenges – Blog Post by Kent Roach, February 14, 2022
Episode 46: The February Crisis and the Emergencies Act – CIAJ’s Podcast « In all Fairness » with Kent Roach, February 17, 2022
CIAJ’s portrait of Kent Roach


Sarah A. Inness, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B. graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba in 1998 and was called to the Bar in 1999. She has practiced criminal defence work her entire career, and as a Partner at Campbell Gunn Inness Seib since 2007. Sarah is a faculty member of the Criminal Advocacy Workshop Series (Law Society of Manitoba/Criminal Defence Lawyers of Manitoba) and a sessional instructor at the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba, where she has taught Criminal Law and Procedure, as well as Introduction to Advocacy. She has also participated in a variety of Boards and organizations, including the Manitoba Bar Association, Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba, the Oversight Committees of the Winnipeg Drug Treatment Court and Mental Health Court, and the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Manitoba.

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