New Conservative “tough-on-crime” bill courting another losing battle with Supreme Court?
Is the Harper government courting yet another Supreme Court battle with its latest “tough-on-crime” bill? Slated to be tabled on Wednesday, the Conservatives “life without parole bill” proposes mandatory life sentences for certain violent offenders — while empowering the public safety minister to grant parole in rare cases. But experts predict legal challenges if the bill becomes law […]
Is the Harper government courting yet another Supreme Court battle with its latest “tough-on-crime” bill?
Slated to be tabled on Wednesday, the Conservatives “life without parole bill” proposes mandatory life sentences for certain violent offenders — while empowering the public safety minister to grant parole in rare cases.
But experts predict legal challenges if the bill becomes law and say the Supreme Court could “chuck it out” — all part of ongoing criticism of the
“decline in evidence-based lawmaking.”
Stephen Harper’s “tough-on-crime” legislation has a history of being struck down, or undermined, by the courts — most often the Supreme Court of Canada.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay recently defended the government’s record:
“Canadians can rest assured that we draft our legislation to ensure it is compliant with the Canadian Constitution.”
Really? Let’s get a second opinion from the courts on that one:
Truth in Sentencing Act — Part 1
Last spring, the Supreme Court ruled against parts of the Truth in Sentencing Act — a “centrepiece” of the Tory crime agenda.
The Act was meant to curb a judge’s ability to give an inmate extra credit for time spent behind bars before sentencing — except in “exceptional circumstances.” But the Supreme Court ruled that judges have the discretion to allow up to 1.5 days credit for time served.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association applauded the decision:
“The court has recognized that without clear language from Parliament to limit a long-standing approach to sentencing, offenders should not be punished more severely solely because they were not released on bail.”
Truth in Sentencing Act — Part 2
The Act received another slap down from the Ontario Court of Appeal a few months later:
“Like many attempts to replace the scalpel of discretion with a broadsword, its application misses the mark and results in unfairness, discrimination and ultimately unjust sentences…
“Public confidence in the criminal justice system would be undermined by an artificial distinction that results in longer jail terms for some offenders.”
Abolition of Early Parole Act
“Imposing this… by means or retrospective legislation triggers the protecting against double punishment.”
Internet users privacy upheld by Supreme Court — bad news for Tory cybercrime and anti-bullying bills?
In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Internet service providers can’t routinely provide subscriber data to the police. The landmark ruling could be used to undermine the constitutionality of the government’s cyber-bullying leglislation (Bill C-13) and Digital Privacy Act.
Mandatory minimum sentence for firearm offences
“Every reasonable person would support reducing violent crime and protecting the public. However, there is no tangible evidence that imposing a mandatory minimum does anything to actually accomplish that objective.”
Mandatory victim surcharge
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