Pubdate: Sat, 16 Apr 2016
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jordan Press
Page: 26


Supreme Court Strikes Down Previous Tory Government Laws

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down two federal laws 
from the previous Conservative government's tough-on-crime agenda, 
ruling both to be unconstitutional.

The decisions mean an end to rules for minimum sentences for specific 
drug crime convictions and limits on credit for pre-trial detention 
in certain conditions where bail is denied, giving trial judges more 
leeway in how they deal with offenders.

In both decisions, the top court said Parliament has the right to set 
laws to maintain public safety, but the rules should not be so overly 
broad that they capture offenders whose incarceration would benefit 
neither themselves nor the public.

Speaking in Waterloo, Ont., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his 
government is reviewing the laws around mandatory minimum sentences.

"There are situations where mandatory minimums are relevant," Trudeau said.

"The Liberal party of the past in government brought in mandatory 
minimums around serious crimes like murder, but at the same time 
there is a general sense, reinforced by the Supreme Court decision 
today, that mandatory minimums brought in by the previous government 
in a number of cases went too far. This is what we are reflecting on."

In a 6-3 ruling, the high court said a mandatory, one-year minimum 
sentence for a drug crime when the offender has a similar charge on 
their record constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of 
section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The majority ruled that mandatory minimums in this instance cast too 
wide a net and catch conduct that can range from a "coldblooded 
trafficker of hard drugs for profit" to someone who shares a small 
amount of marijuana with friends. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, 
writing for the majority, said that in the latter instance "most 
Canadians would be shocked to find that such a person could be sent 
to prison for one year."

The Supreme Court also unanimously agreed to strike down provisions 
passed in 2009 that prohibited a trial judge from giving more than 
one-for-one credit for pretrial detention if a justice of the peace 
denied bail to the person because of a previous conviction.
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