Blondin imported a scuba tank from Japan which was noted to be heavy by customs officials. With Blondin's permission, the tank was taken to an aquatic shop to have the valve removed and it was found to contain hashish. Blondin told the RCMP that he did not know what was in the tank, or what hashish was, but he had been asked to bring the tank into Canada and he did know that the contents of the tank were illegal; he was paid to import them from Japan. He was charged with importing a narcotic contrary to the Narcotic Control Act (now the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act). Blondin was acquitted at trial as the judge instructed the jury that to convict they must find beyond a reasonable doubt that Blondin was aware the tank contained narcotics. The Crown appealed on the basis that the judge had erred in his jury instructions.
- What knowledge is necessary for the defendant to be convicted?
Appeal allowed, new trial ordered.
Davey, writing for the court, rejects the characterization of the charge that was given to the jury. While it is the fact from precedent there is no possession without knowledge of the character of the forbidden substance, Blondin did not need to know that the substance was hashish but only that it was a prohibited narcotic (or that he had been willfully blind to what was in the tank and could have reasonable inferred that it was narcotics).
There is in law no possession without knowledge of the character of the forbidden substance; the specific substance need not be known, however its type must be.