Merrifield v. Canada (Attorney General), 2019 ONCA 205

The plaintiff RCMP employee alleged that he was harassed and bullied by the RCMP during his employment. The trial judge held that the tort of harassment exists in Ontario and found that certain of the plaintiff’s experiences in the course of his employment with the RCMP satisfied the elements of the tort of harassment. On appeal, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the trial court’s decision and held that: (1) the tort of harassment does not exist in Ontario; and (2) this case did not present compelling reasons to create the tort of harassment. The Court of Appeal found that the decisions relied upon by the trial court to find that the tort of harassment exists, assumed rather than established the existence of the tort. The Court acknowledged that recognizing new torts is, in essence, a matter of judicial discretion but found that the facts of this case did not call for the creation of a novel legal remedy. The Court reasoned that there were other legal remedies available to redress the conduct alleged to constitute harassment in this case, including the tort of intentional infliction of mental suffering. It went on to find that the state of the law is such that recognition of the tort of harassment would be more than an incremental common law change. The Court further found that the conduct complained of by the plaintiff did not meet the legal test for the tort of intentional infliction of mental suffering. This was the first case in Canada in which an appellate court has been required to determine whether a common law tort of harassment exists.