This case concerned the meaning of voyeurism under the Criminal Code, and students’ reasonable expectations of privacy in their schools. 

LEAF intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Facts 

Ryan Jarvis, a male high school teacher, used a camera pen to secretly film his female students’ cleavage. He was charged with the Criminal Code offence of voyeurism. To be guilty of voyeurism, Mr. Jarvis must have recorded his students for a sexual purpose in circumstances in which they had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The trial judge was not satisfied that Mr. Jarvis had made the recordings for a sexual purpose and acquitted him. The Ontario Court of Appeal used a narrow, location-based assessment of privacy to conclude that the students had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the school. The Crown appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Arguments 

LEAF urged the Court to apply an equality lens to the interpretation of voyeurism, which takes into account the highly gendered nature of this crime. Voyeurism is more than an invasion of privacy – it is a violation of sexual integrity and autonomy.  

The Court needed to endorse a broad and contextual definition of “circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy”, which recognizes women’s reasonably held privacy expectations in both private and public places and provides meaningful protection for women’s sexual integrity in public life.  

Outcome 

The Supreme Court found that the recordings were made for a sexual purpose, and that the students had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the circumstances. The Court added that individuals “going about their day-to-day activities – whether attending school, going to work, taking public transit or engaging in leisure pursuits…reasonably expect not to be the subject of targeted recording focused on their intimate body parts (whether clothed or unclothed) without their consent”. 

LEAF is grateful to Gillian Hnatiw, Karen Segal, and Alex Fidler-Wener, counsel in this case, as well as Nadia Effendi, Ottawa agent for LEAF.  

Download the factum here.

Read the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision here

Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].