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A Good Week for the Charter

On Sunday, Justin Trudeau was asked on Twitter by a Vancouver lawyer if a Liberal government would reconsider mandatory minimum sentences.  Trudeau’s response was direct and to the point, he trusts the judiciary to do their jobs and yes, he would reconsider.

The conversation can be found  here.

On Tuesday, a five-Judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal did their jobs and did them well.  The court released five judgments which tackled the issue of mandatory minimum sentences for firearms offences.  Most notably, the court struck down s. 95(2)(a)(i) and (ii) of the Criminal Code of Canada, declaring the section to be “of no force or effect”.  The sections legislated a mandatory minimum sentence of three years for a first offence of possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition, and five years for a second offence.

In their analysis, the Justices made it clear that possession of firearms is a very serious offence which will often call for stiff sentences.  However, they were also clear that certain fact scenarios may present themselves where the legislated mandatory minimum sentences would constitute “cruel and unusual punishment”.

This blog post was written by Toronto Criminal Lawyer Adam Goodman. Adam can be reached at 416-477-6793 or by email at adam@aglaw.ca.