The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Justin Ling

Criminal justice

Facilitating routine police evidence may not help court delays

By Justin Ling September 12, 2018 12 September 2018

Facilitating routine police evidence may not help court delays

 

What is routine?

What might seem like an abstract question has taken on larger significance under Bill C-75, the federal government’s omnibus justice reform legislation, which will come back before the Justice and Human Rights Committee as the House of Commons returns this month.

The bill has drawn considerable interest and criticism, particularly concerning its more controversial aspects — eliminating preliminary hearings, doing away with peremptory juror challenges, the hybridization of numerous offences. 

The other issue, at first overshadowed by the other changes, is the provision — s. 278 — proposing to “allow routine police evidence in writing.”

Under the proposed bill, that means anything collected by a police officer related to “gathering evidence and making observations; analysing, preserving or otherwise handling evidence; identifying or arresting an accused or otherwise interacting with an accused.” It extends to any other similar activities “that the police officer undertook in the course of their duties.”

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Justice

Filling judicial vacancies: Only a partial solution

By Justin Ling August 29, 2018 29 August 2018

Filling judicial vacancies: Only a partial solution

 

During their first three years in government, the Justin Trudeau-led Liberal Party has managed to stickhandle some significant legal files with relative skill. Medical assistance in dying, the legalization of cannabis, national security reform were all brought forward and passed into law with little of the legal fight that overshadowed much of the agenda of the Harper government before it.

But criticism remains regarding Ottawa’s handling of criminal justice. In particular, a fight is brewing over a justice reform bill that Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says will tackle court delays. Her critics say it will do the opposite.

The other big-ticket attempt to fix the issue of court delays has been to create new spots on the bench and get them filled in a reasonable time. Staffing the judiciary, however, has been a challenge for the government.

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Criminal justice

The home stretch: Delivering on justice reforms

By Justin Ling August 13, 2018 13 August 2018

The home stretch: Delivering on justice reforms

 

As the Trudeau government approaches the last year of its mandate, its promised reforms to our justice system present a mixed picture.

Since taking office, the Liberals have been seized with improving the speed and efficiency in the criminal justice system. Adding a greater sense of urgency to the task was the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2016 in  R. v. Jordan, which imposed ceilings on trial delays and instigated a political panic over the idea that murderers could be released because their case has been too-oft delayed. Even prior to that, Justice Minister’s Jody Wilson-Raybould’s November 2015 mandate letter from the prime minister outlined three specific commitments on that front: The expansion of information technology to expedite the justice system, “exploration of sentencing alternatives and bail reform,” and the establishment of a “unified family court.”

The first of the three promises appears to be well on track. While there is scant mention by the government of their plan to drag the Court Administration Service’s Courts and Registry Management System into the 21st century, the government insists that change is on the way.

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Criminal law

Can Canada kill its own citizens in combat?

By Justin Ling July 6, 2018 6 July 2018

Can Canada kill its own citizens in combat?

 

That question has been thrust into the Canadian legal world in recent months, after Global News reported that, not only has Ottawa determined that it can legally kill fighters who fled Canada to fight for foreign terror groups, it likely already has.

In May, Global published a report detailing how the Canadian military had targeted three Canadian citizens in Syria and Iraq. Earlier in June, they released details on the discussions that occurred between senior officials on the legality and possibility of launching airstrikes that could kill Canadian citizens.

The discussion is the first time the issue has escaped from the academic legal world into actuality. While other countries, like the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Israel have all grappled with the legality and morality of killing its citizens on the battlefield, Canada has mostly sidestepped the issue.

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The Supreme Court of Canada

SCC backs law societies in denying accreditation to TWU

By Justin Ling June 15, 2018 15 June 2018

SCC backs law societies in denying accreditation to TWU

 

Trinity Western University has lost its bid to the Supreme Court, and its graduates will not be accredited as lawyers, so long as the school forces its students to sign a mandatory religious covenant.

The 7-2 split decision from the court — with four different reasons — ruled that the law school’s exclusionary admissions policy unduly excluded LGBTQ students. In doing so, it found the decisions by both the law societies of British Columbia and Ontario to deny it accreditation to be reasonable.

Under the law school’s mandatory covenant, students are forbidden from engaging in sexual activity outside the bonds of heterosexual marriage.

The pair of decisions — dismissing the appeal in Ontario, and allowing the appeal in British Columbia — offers new guidance on where the religious freedom guaranteed under the Canadian Charter begins and ends. But the majority court couldn’t come to a consensus on how that should work.

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