General Production Orders

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General Principles

Section 487.014 authorizes peace officers and public officers to obtain copies of original records held by third parties.[1]

General production order
487.014 (1) Subject to sections 487.015 to 487.018, on ex parte application made by a peace officer or public officer, a justice or judge may order a person to produce a document that is a copy of a document that is in their possession or control when they receive the order, or to prepare and produce a document containing data that is in their possession or control at that time.
Conditions for making order
(2) Before making the order, the justice or judge must be satisfied by information on oath in Form 5.004 that there are reasonable grounds to believe that

(a) an offence has been or will be committed under this or any other Act of Parliament; and
(b) the document or data is in the person’s possession or control and will afford evidence respecting the commission of the offence.

(3) The order is to be in Form 5.005.
(4) A person who is under investigation for the offence referred to in subsection (2) may not be made subject to an order.
2004, c. 3, s. 7; 2014, c. 31, s. 20.


Under s. 487.014(2), the applicant must establish grounds on the same standard as search warrant of reasonable and probable grounds. [2]

The obligation to produce documents under a production order extends beyond the expiration date on the order.[3]

Requirements to Issue Order
The court must be satisfied that:[4]

  1. an offence against this Act or any other Act of Parliament has been or is suspected to have been committed;
  2. the documents or data will afford evidence respecting the commission of the offence; and
  3. the person who is subject to the order has possession or control of the documents or data.

Under 487.011, "documents" refers to "any medium on which is recorded or marked anything that is capable of being read or understood by a person or a computer system or other device.". Under that same section the meaning "data" simply adopts the meaning from s. 342.1(2), which defines it as "representations of information or of concepts that are being prepared or have been prepared in a form suitable for use in a computer system".

Production of Communication Records
Historical communications held by a telecommunications company can be obtained by a production order and are not considered to be the product of interception.[5]

A production order that intends to obtain prospective communications is invalid as it may amount to an interception.[6]

Misc Definitions
"Public officer" is defined in s. 2.[7]

  1. This does not include financial records, tracking or transmission data
  2. R v Woodroffe, 2006 CanLII 9308 (ON SC) - refers to 487.012(3) which is now 487.14(2)
  3. R v Goulbourne, 2011 ONSC 774 (CanLII)
  4. Tele‑Mobile Co. v. Ontario, 2008 SCC 12 (CanLII), [2008] 1 S.C.R. 305 (in reference to the older version found in s. 487.012(3))
  5. see R v Jones, 2016 ONCA 543 (CanLII) per MacPherson JA
  6. R v TELUS Communications Co., [2013] 2 SCR 3, 2013 SCC 16 (CanLII)
  7. see Definitions of Parties, Persons, and Organizations

"Afford Evidence"

The phrase "will afford evidence respecting the commission of the offence" is the same standard as that used for General Warrants.

The reference to "evidence with respect to the commission of an offence" is said to be "encompassing all materials which might shed light on the circumstances of an event which appears to constitute an offence" and includes "anything relevant or rationally connected to the incident under investigation, the parties involved, and their potential culpability".[1]

Records such as doctors notes that record a prior statement in only "summary form" such that it could not form the "basis for cross-examination under s. 10(1) or, for that matter, under s. 11 of the Canada Evidence Act" will not be required for full answer and defence and so a judge may refuse to order production.[2] Similarly, failure to order the production of records in relation to collateral issues will not impair the right to full answer and defence.[3]

Therapeutic records that are not verified for accuracy are "inherently unreliable".[4]

  1. CanadianOxy Chemicals Ltd v Canada (Attorney General), [1999] 1 SCR 743, 1999 CanLII 680 (SCC), at para 15
  2. R v Bradley, 2015 ONCA 738 (CanLII) at para 107 to 109
  3. Bradley, ibid. at para 109
  4. Bradley, ibid. at para 110
    O'Connor, supra at para 165

Media Outlets

When dealing with production orders targeting media outlets, it is necessary for the reviewing judge to account for other non-statutory factors.[1] The factors that are considered when dealing with a production order for media outlets are the same as those for warrants for media outlets.[2]

Factors to be considered include:[3]

  1. the justice of the peace should consider all of the circumstances in determining whether to exercise his or her discretion to issue a warrant.
  2. The justice of the peace should ensure that a balance is struck between the competing interests of the state in the investigation and prosecution of crimes and the right to privacy of the media in the course of their news gathering and news dissemination. It must be borne in mind that the media play a vital role in the functioning of a democratic society. Generally speaking, the news media will not be implicated in the crime under investigation. They are truly an innocent third party. This is a particularly important factor to be considered in attempting to strike an appropriate balance, including the consideration of imposing conditions on that warrant.
  3. The affidavit in support of the application must contain sufficient detail to enable the justice of the peace to properly exercise his or her discretion as to the issuance of a search warrant.
  4. Although it is not a constitutional requirement, the affidavit material should ordinarily disclose whether there are alternative sources from which the information may reasonably be obtained and, if there is an alternative source, that it has been investigated and all reasonable efforts to obtain the information have been exhausted.
  5. If the information sought has been disseminated by the media in whole or in part, this will be a factor which will favour the issuing of the search warrant.
  6. If a justice of the peace determines that a warrant should be issued for the search of media premises, consideration should then be given to the imposition of some conditions on its implementation, so that the media organization will not be unduly impeded in the publishing or dissemination of the news.
  7. If, subsequent to the issuing of a search warrant, it comes to light the authorities failed to disclose pertinent information that could well have affected the decision to issue the warrant, this may result in a finding that the warrant was invalid.
  8. Similarly, if the search itself is unreasonably conducted, this may render the search invalid.
  1. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v Manitoba (Attorney General), 2009 MBCA 122 (CanLII)
  2. Edmonton Journal v Canada (Justice), 2013 ABPC 356 (CanLII) at para 9
  3. Edmonton Journal v Alberta (Attorney General), [1989] 2 SCR 1326, 1989 CanLII 20 (SCC)