Brassard v. R. – FCA: Court of Appeal declines to set aside subsection 160(1) assessment

Brassard v. R. – FCA:  Court of Appeal declines to set aside subsection 160(1) assessment

Brassard v. Canada (October 11, 2017 – 2017 FCA 205, Pelletier (author), Boivin, Gleason JJ.A.).

Précis:  Mr. Brassard’s brother transferred a piece of land with a mobile home to him at a time when he had tax arrears.  CRA assessed Mr. Brassard roughly $66,000 as the value of the property less what he had paid for it (which CRA assumed was $50,000).  Mr. Brassard lost in the Tax Court and appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal.  Mr. Brassard essentially argued that CRA’s valuation of the property was incorrect and attempted to rely upon other evidence of value.  The Court of Appeal held that there was no reversible error on the evidence and dismissed the appeal with costs.

Decision:   This case boiled down to the fact that Mr. Brassard, who was self-represented, did not understand the standard of review on appeal and the arguments that he made simply failed to sway the Court:

[8]               The evidence of comparable sales which Mr. Brassard sought to bring to this Court’s attention would not permit us to substitute our opinion as to the fair market value of the property for the Tax Court judge’s conclusion. We are in no better position than the trial judge to substitute our opinion of fair market value for that of a person with training and experience in this area. Furthermore, once the trial judge has come to a conclusion on a question of fact, such as the fair market value of a property, the Supreme Court of Canada has held that an appellate court cannot substitute its opinion for that of the trial court except where the latter has fallen into palpable and overriding error: see Housen v. Nikolaisen, 2002 SCC 33 at paragraph 10, [2002] 2 S.C.R. 235. A palpable error is one which is plainly or easily seen, while an overriding error is one which has a determinative effect on the outcome of the case.

[9]               The Court listened to Mr. Brassard attentively for two hours while he pointed out the various issues he had with the Tax Court’s reasons, the Minister’s appraisal and the conduct of CRA officials. Ultimately, bearing in mind the constraints imposed on us by the standard of review as set out in Housen v. Nikolaisen, I find no error in the Tax Court’s decision which would justify our intervention.


As a result the appeal was dismissed with costs.