After a trial before a Court of Queen’s Bench judge sitting without a jury, W.M. was convicted of sexual assault and exposing himself to a minor for a sexual purpose: R v W.D.M. (10 September 2021) Saskatoon, CRM 367 of 2020. W.M. appeals from his conviction.
 W.M.’s conviction stood exclusively on the complainant’s testimony. However, the trial judge’s reasons for judgment fail to grapple with several significant parts of the evidence that bore directly on the complainant’s credibility and reliability as a witness. This leads me to conclude that either the reasons are deficient in law or the trial judge proceeded under a misapprehension of the evidence as a whole. Whichever way it is viewed, there must be a new trial. My reasons for reaching this conclusion follow.
 W.M. went to trial facing a two-count indictment. It alleged that, between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2008, he (a) committed sexual assault on a child [complainant], contrary to s. 271 of the Criminal Code, and (b) did, for a sexual purpose, expose his genitals to the complainant, a person under the age of 16 years, contrary to s. 173(2) of the Criminal Code. Both charges were said to have arisen out of a single incident in which W.M. is alleged to have exposed himself to the complainant and masturbated on her.
 The complainant was born in 2000. She would have been between the ages of five and eight during the period covered by the indictment. At the time of the alleged incident, W.M. was in a committed relationship with the complainant’s mother. W.M. and the mother had a child together who was born in 2004 [sister].
 ...In late 2009, the mother moved with her daughters to Edmonton. W.M. did not move with them. The complainant came forward with her allegation many years later.
 The complainant testified that she would have been 18 or 19 years old at the time she came forward with this allegation against W.M. She said she did so after seeing her sister go through a trial involving an alleged sexual assault committed by another of the mother’s ex-boyfriends.
 The cross-examination of the complainant was designed to raise doubt as to the reliability and credibility of her testimony. I will return to discuss some of this later in these reasons. However, one important point bears mention at the outset. The testimony of all three witnesses was that the complainant harboured great animus towards W.M. for reasons unrelated to the alleged assault.
 ...In cross-examination, the mother agreed that she “most likely” would have spoken poorly of W.M. after her break-up with him. The mother agreed that W.M. had treated the complainant differently than he had treated the sister, his biological daughter. She described the complainant as holding “a lot of anger and resentment” towards W.M.
 W.M. testified in his own defence. He agreed that he had been stricter with the complainant than with the sister, that at times he had been verbally abusive towards the complainant and that he had spanked the complainant harder than he spanked the sister. He acknowledged that he had made the complainant cry. W.M. denied that he ever showed the complainant his penis intentionally or masturbated on her.
III. The Issue
 A trial judge must deliver sufficient reasons for a verdict. It is “through reasoned decisions that judges are held accountable to the public, ensuring transparency in the adjudicative process and satisfying both the public and the parties that justice has been done in a particular case” (R v G.F., 2021 SCC 20 at para 68, 459 DLR (4th) 375, making reference to R v Sheppard, 2002 SCC 26 at paras 15, 42 and 55,  1 SCR 869 and R.J. Sharpe, Good Judgment: Making Judicial Decisions (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018) at 134).
 As explained in R v Gagnon, 2006 SCC 17,  1 SCR 621, there are two steps to the analysis when a claim is made that a trial judge’s reasons are so inadequate as to require a new trial:
 ... Finding an error of law due to insufficient reasons requires two stages of analysis: (1) are the reasons inadequate; (2) if so, do they prevent appellate review? In other words, the Court [in Sheppard] concluded that even if the reasons are objectively inadequate, they sometimes do not prevent appellate review because the basis for the verdict is obvious on the face of the record. ...
 Appellate courts are instructed to adopt a functional approach to reviewing the sufficiency of reasons. In R v Dinardo, 2008 SCC 24,  1 SCR 788, the Supreme Court emphasized that the inquiry “should not be conducted in the abstract, but should be directed at whether the reasons respond to the case’s live issues, having regard to the evidence as a whole and the submissions of counsel” (at para 25).
 In R v R.E.M., 2008 SCC 51 at para 16,  3 SCR 3, McLachlin C.J. noted that “courts of appeal considering the sufficiency of reasons should read them as a whole, in the context of the evidence, the arguments and the trial, with an appreciation of the purposes or functions for which they are delivered”...
 ...McLachlin C.J. held that “it is generally reasonable to infer that the trial judge understands the basic principles of criminal law at issue in the trial” (at para 45). However, “the presumption that trial judges are presumed to know the law with which they work on a day-in day-out basis does not negate the need for reasons to show that the law is correctly applied in the particular case ... nor the need for reasons to deal with ‘troublesome principles of unsettled law’” (at para 47, citing Sheppard at para 55, points 9 and 6, respectively).
 ...There is a low bar to establishing factual sufficiency as “[e]ven if the trial judge expresses themselves poorly, an appellate court that understands the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ from the record may explain the factual basis of the finding to the aggrieved party” (at para 71). Legal sufficiency, on the other hand, “requires that the aggrieved party be able to meaningfully exercise their right of appeal”. As Karakatsanis J. noted, “[l]egal sufficiency is highly context specific and must be assessed in light of the live issues at trial” (at para 74).
 ...Finally, the defence submitted that the complainant’s animus towards W.M. was a reason to discount her credibility. It was argued that all of this, together with W.M.’s testimony denying that the event described by the complainant took place, meant that there must be reasonable doubt as to his guilt. In his appeal, W.M. points out that the only reasons given by the trial judge for accepting the complainant’s testimony, and rejecting his own denial, are found in the following passage from the judge’s reasons:
I have no hesitation in accepting the evidence of [the complainant]. It was cogent, believable, authentic, and in its own way searing. To be sure, there are some inconsistencies or vagueness respecting dates and times or other facts that are incidental to the narrative. However, her evidence as to the conduct that constitutes the actus reus of the offences was absolutely convincing.
 W.M. submits that these four sentences fail to address the issues raised in the evidence that bore on the credibility and reliability of the complainant’s testimony. The result, he says, is that the trial judge’s reasons are insufficient at law and a new trial is required.
 ...on the facts of this case, I do not consider the failure by the trial judge to specifically address the discrepancies in the complainant’s testimony as to her age, the time of day or time of year when the alleged incident took place, standing alone, to warrant appellate intervention. While they are matters that could have cast doubt on the complainant’s testimony, this was a child witness, and it was ultimately within the province of the trial judge to weigh these matters...
 However, there were other issues raised in the evidence that go beyond what can be fairly dismissed as simply being incidental to the narrative. I will mention several of the more important ones. Because I have concluded that a new trial is required, and it will be up to the trier of fact at the new trial to weigh these matters, I do not intend this list to be comprehensive, nor my discussion of the issues raised by these matters to be exhaustive.
 The first, and perhaps most important, issue the trial judge failed to address relates to the animus that the complainant stated that she felt towards W.M. As I have already noted, she testified that she had harboured significant ill will towards W.M. for reasons unrelated to the alleged assault. In this regard, the mother said that W.M. treated the complainant much more poorly than he treated the sister. The complainant testified that she felt unloved and unwanted by W.M. and singled out by him because she was not his biological child. She described him as being physically abusive with her for this reason. She felt he picked on her more than the sister. When she was asked if all of this caused her to hate W.M., she answered, “With a passion”. She testified not only that she hated W.M., but that she thought about it every day. This was a central pillar of W.M.’s defence. He argued, with some force, that the complainant’s admitted animus towards him rendered her evidence suspect. Yet, I can see nothing in the judgment that would constitute even an indirect comment on this evidence.
 The defence also linked the issue of motive to other evidence. As adults, the complainant, the mother and the sister all lived together. The mother has a history of violence against former partners and a conviction for assault with a weapon on one of her ex-partners. The defence suggested that the complainant and the sister were targeting their mother’s ex-partners. This suggestion finds at least some support in the mother’s testimony that the complainant came forward with her allegation only after a family conflict involving W.M. at a powwow, after which the mother told W.M. that he would never see his daughter (the complainant’s sister) again based on what the complainant had told her. This evidence also went unmentioned by the trial judge in his reasons.
 The existence of a motive to fabricate is germane to credibility. Justice Doherty put it this way in R v Batte (2000), 145 CCC (3d) 449 (Ont CA):
 ... Juries are told to use their common sense and combined life experience in assessing credibility. It is difficult to think of a factor which, as a matter of common sense and life experience, would be more germane to a witness’ credibility than the existence of a motive to fabricate evidence. Similarly, the absence of any reason to make a false allegation is a factor which juries, using their common sense, will and should consider in assessing a witness’ credibility.
 The evidence in this case went well beyond an absence of a motive to fabricate. As I have noted, the complainant stated that she hated W.M. and thought about it every day.
 In R v Ignacio, 2021 ONCA 69 at para 35, 400 CCC (3d) 343, leave to appeal to SCC refused, 2021 CanLII 58907, Pepall J.A. found that the trial judge in that case “was required to consider motive to fabricate due to the defence allegation that the complainant had a motive to fabricate” (at para 35, emphasis added). Similarly, in R v S.R., 2022 ONCA 192, the Ontario Court of Appeal stated that “[a]s in Ignacio, at para. 35, the trial judge was required to consider motive to fabricate due to the defence allegation that the complainant had a motive to fabricate” (at para 30).
 In R v Swain, 2021 BCCA 207 at para 28, 406 CCC (3d) 39, Voith J.A. noted that the existence of proof that a complainant had a motive to fabricate an allegation “may substantially challenge the credibility of the complainant, which may be capable of raising a reasonable doubt”. Justice Voith later identified three risks that must be avoided where a trier of fact considers the absence of evidence of a motive to fabricate when conducting a credibility assessment. These are that (a) the “trier of fact must not equate the mere absence of evidence that a complainant has a motive to fabricate evidence with a proven absence of motive” (at para 31), (b) the “trier of fact must not consider that an absence of evidence of motive to fabricate, or even a proven absence of motive, conclusively establishes that the complainant is telling the truth” (at para 32) and (c) the “trier of fact must not look to an accused to explain why a complainant has made the allegations they have or be under any impression that the accused has an onus to demonstrate that the complainant has a motive to fabricate evidence in order to achieve an acquittal” (at para 33). I emphasize these three points because of the existence in this case of an admitted motive to fabricate.
 Finally, on this issue, I would mention R v JOL, 2020 ABCA 73, 7 Alta LR (7th) 180. This case again illustrates the need for a trier of fact to consider motive to fabricate when there is evidence supporting its existence. In that case, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the trial judge had erred in failing to provide a specific instruction about this issue:
 We agree the trial judge erred in refusing defence counsel’s request to provide a specific instruction regarding motive to fabricate. While not determinative, the existence of a motive to fabricate is relevant to assessing credibility: R v CEK, 2020 ABCA 2
at para 26
; R v Zapeda, 2018 ABCA 425
at para 10
; R v Batte, 49 OR (3d) 321 at paras 119-121, 134 OAC 1 (CA). This applies to all matters, including sexual assault trials.
 The appellant was entitled to have his defence put forward. In our view, a generic line that applied to both the complainant and the appellant, without any reference to the evidence supporting motive to fabricate, was insufficient.
 While the court in JOL was analyzing the sufficiency of a jury charge rather than the reasons for conviction provided by a trial judge, the decision raises an important point. Where credibility is a central issue and there is evidence suggesting that a complainant may have been motivated to fabricate an allegation against the accused, the trier of fact is required to consider this information. Where, as here, there is direct evidence of such a motive, and the motive plays a central part of the arguments relating to the credibility of a witness, a trial judge’s reasons should generally address it.
 The second important matter that was unaddressed in the trial judge’s reasons relates to inconsistencies in what the complainant claims to have seen. At trial, the complainant testified that she saw W.M. ejaculate on her chest. At the preliminary hearing, she stated that she felt something land on her and later had wiped it off her chest and stomach and thought it was semen. When asked at the preliminary hearing if she had seen where what she wiped off came from, she answered that she had not, but stated that she “had seen that [W.M.] had his penis in his hand and [she] closed [her] eyes”. This discrepancy was one of the cornerstones of the arguments made on W.M.’s behalf at the trial. It is not a minor one. According to the Crown’s theory of the case, it was this act that constituted the actus reus of the sexual assault. Yet, no mention is made of this discrepancy in the complainant’s retelling of events in the trial judge’s reasons.
 The trial judge’s reasons do not address any of these important areas of concern. None of them can be said to be “inconsistencies or vagueness respecting dates and times or other facts that are incidental to the narrative”. There was certainly nothing vague or inconsistent about the complainant’s hatred for W.M. She stated that she thought about her hatred of W.M. every day. The question as to whether the complainant saw W.M. ejaculate involves a discrepancy in her testimony, however, it neither relates to a time or place, nor is it a matter that is incidental to the alleged crime...
...In my respectful view, it was incumbent on the trial judge to address these matters in his reasons. The failure by the trial judge to do so makes it impossible for this Court to determine how, if it all, they were accounted for by him in his assessment of the complainant’s credibility and reliability as a witness.
 Here, in the language of Sheppard and R.E.M., the trial judge’s reasons explained what conclusion he had reached, but not why he had come to it. As in Dinardo, “it was open to the trial judge to conclude that he was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused” (at para 31), but it was not open for him to do so without explaining how this fit with the unaddressed evidence. Justice Nordheimer more recently made the same point when he stated that while a “trial judge is not required to address each and every piece of evidence, a trial judge is required to address crucial evidence that bears directly on the credibility and reliability of a witness” (R v C.G., 2021 ONCA 809 at para 42, 407 CCC (3d) 52, emphasis added).
 In this case, the problem is not just that the trial judge failed to reconcile the frailties in the evidence. Rather, his reasons fail to even identify the key frailties, let alone explain how a finding that the Crown had proven its case against W.M. beyond a reasonable doubt can be reconciled with them. In saying this, I wish to emphasize that I am not saying that it would not have been possible for the trial judge to have found a pathway to guilt on the evidence in this case. However, if that pathway exists, the trial judge did not explain where it lay.
 To this point in my reasons, I have considered this appeal as involving an insufficiency in the reasons of the trial judge. It may also be viewed another way. In this regard, it is an error of law for a trial judge to fail to consider all material evidence or to proceed on the basis of a misapprehension of the evidence.
 As explained by Doherty J.A. in R v Morrissey (1995), 97 CCC (3d) 193 (Ont CA), a “misapprehension of the evidence may refer to a failure to consider evidence relevant to a material issue, a mistake as to the substance of the evidence, or a failure to give proper effect to evidence” (at 218). Justice Doherty further explained that “[w]here a trial judge is mistaken as to the substance of material parts of the evidence and those errors play an essential part in the reasoning process resulting in a conviction, then, in my view, the accused’s conviction is not based exclusively on the evidence and is not a ‘true’ verdict” (at 221). Later, in the same paragraph, he added the following:
... If an appellant can demonstrate that the conviction depends on a misapprehension of the evidence then, in my view, it must follow that the appellant has not received a fair trial, and was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. This is so even if the evidence, as actually adduced at trial, was capable of supporting a conviction.
 In R v Lohrer, 2004 SCC 80 at para 1,  3 SCR 732, Binnie J., speaking for the Supreme Court, agreed with Doherty J.A.’s observations. He also emphasized that Morrissey “describes a stringent standard”, that “must go to the substance rather than the detail” (at para 2). See also: R v Paproski, 2021 SKCA 65 at para 26; R v Thalheimer, 2022 SKCA 25 at para 45; and C.G. at para 47.
 Of course, not every misapprehension of evidence justifies appellate intervention. Rather, “to give effect to an appeal on this ground, a trial judge must be mistaken about the substance of material parts of the evidence and the misapprehension must play an essential part in the reasoning process” (Paproski at para 26, emphasis added). It has also been said that an appellate court “will interfere only where the misapprehension is of substance rather than detail, is material rather than peripheral to the trial judge’s reasoning, and the error plays an essential part in the reasoning process, not just of the narrative” (S.R. at para 14, emphasis in original, referring to R v Cloutier, 2011 ONCA 484 at para 60, 272 CCC (3d) 291).
 Here, the failure by the trial judge to grapple with evidence that was central to the reliability and credibility of the complainant’s testimony, on which the conviction of W.M. hung, can only be described as going to the central part of the case. This means that either the trial judge ignored this evidence – in which event he proceeded under a misapprehension of the evidence as a whole – or his reasons are deficient at law because they do not allow for appellate review on this issue.
 The Crown appropriately points out that, in R.E.M. and G.F., the Supreme Court has communicated its deep concern that safe convictions, particularly in matters involving sexual offences, are being overturned not for legal error “but on the basis of parsing imperfect or summary expression on the part of the trial judge” (G.F. at para 76). However, I do not interpret either decision to be a call to shield insufficient reasons and potentially dangerous convictions from appropriate appellate scrutiny. Rather, I agree with Nordheimer J.A. when he stated, with specific reference to G.F., that it “does not direct appeal courts to overlook or disregard material reasoning errors, nor does it dispense with the need for trial judges to give adequate reasons for their decisions before stigmatizing and punishing someone” as guilty of a criminal offence (C.G. at para 56).
 ...Whichever way it is viewed, a new trial must be held.