The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper suffers another setback in its campaign to get tough on crime.
Photo Credit: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

Supreme Court strikes down minimum sentences

In another blow to the current Canadian government, the Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional the law requiring mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes.

Traditionally, judges in Canadian courts have flexibility in deciding the sentences for people found guilty of crime. As part of its tough-on-crime agenda, the current government tried to limit that by setting minimum sentences for certain crimes.

In this case, it decreed a three-year sentence for the first offence of possessing a loaded prohibited gun and a five-year minimum for a second offence.

Minimums violate constitutional guarantees

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that these minimums constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Canadians have constitutional protection from this kind of punishment under article 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In a previous case, the justices of the highest court also rejected the government’s effort to stop judges from giving prisoners extra credit for the time they spend behind bars before they are sentenced.

The Supreme Court also rejected a government appointment to their ranks and ruled that Parliament could not reform the Senate on its own.  It did however rule in the government’s favour over the destruction of a gun registry.


Categories: Politics, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

For reasons beyond our control, and for an undetermined period of time, our comment section is now closed. However, our social networks remain open to your contributions.