Good Kid, M.A.D.D. City: Seeking Proportionality in Drunk Driving Sentencing

By: Joshua Sealy-Harrington and Joe McGrade

PDF Version: Good Kid, M.A.D.D. City: Seeking Proportionality in Drunk Driving Sentencing

Cases Commented On: R v Lacasse, 2015 SCC 64; R v Sargent, 2016 ABCA 104

Constantly drinking and drive. Hit the powder then watch this flame that arrive in his eye. […] I live inside the belly of the rough Compton, USA. Made me an angel on angel dust.

good kid m.A.A.d. city (Kendrick Lamar, 2012)

Despite the Supreme Court’s recent consideration of the law governing sentencing appeals, such appeals remain a controversial area of legal analysis for our appellate courts. This persisting ambiguity, which is rooted in how the law is applied, rather than the law itself, motivates us to revisit the Court’s leading decision in R v Lacasse. This comment summarizes the majority and dissenting judgments in Lacasse, notes the ambiguity left by the disagreement between those judgments, outlines a recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision – R v Sargent, 2016 ABCA 104 – which demonstrates that ambiguity, and discusses the significant policy consequences associated with the Supreme Court’s unanimous holding that it is appropriate to more severely punish individuals with sympathetic mitigating factors (good kids) when they reside in communities with high crime rates (mad cities). Continue reading

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A Terminal Dispute? The Alberta Court of Appeal Versus the Federal Government on Assisted Death

By: Jennifer Koshan

PDF Version: A Terminal Dispute? The Alberta Court of Appeal Versus the Federal Government on Assisted Death

Case and Legislation Commented On: Canada (Attorney General) v E.F., 2016 ABCA 155 (CanLII); Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying), 42nd Parliament, 1st Session (as amended by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights)

Anyone not familiar with the controversy surrounding assisted death got a taste of it last week during the debate over Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying), which culminated in Elbowgate in the House of Commons. Also last week, in the first appellate decision to consider assisted dying post-Carter, the Alberta Court of Appeal weighed in on the criteria for constitutional exemptions during the suspension of the declaration of invalidity of the criminal provisions which prohibit assisted death (see Carter v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5 (CanLII) (Carter 2015) and Carter v Canada (Attorney General), 2016 SCC 4 (CanLII) (Carter 2016); and for posts on those decisions see here and here). The Court of Appeal’s decision in Canada (Attorney General) v E.F., 2016 ABCA 155 (CanLII), highlights the lack of congruence between what Carter 2015 constitutionally required and what the government has, so far, delivered in Bill C-14, particularly when it comes to whether a person seeking medical assistance in dying must have an illness that is “terminal”. E.F. also comments on the appropriate role of the Attorney General of Canada in applications seeking judicial authorization of the constitutional exemption allowing assisted dying in certain circumstances during the suspended declaration of invalidity. Continue reading

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BCCA Unfortunately Chooses Not to Follow Alberta’s Lead on the Issue of Whether the Charter Applies to Universities

By: Linda McKay-Panos

PDF Version: BCCA Unfortunately Chooses Not to Follow Alberta’s Lead on the Issue of Whether the Charter Applies To Universities

Case Commented On: BC Civil Liberties Association v University of Victoria, 2016 BCCA 162 (CanLII)

There are a number of ABlawg posts dealing with the issue of whether the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) applies to universities (see: Face-ing the Charter’s Application on University Campuses; University Campus is not Charter-Free; Freedom of Expression, Universities and Anti-Choice Protests). Many of these decisions involve freedom of expression, which is considered to be a very important element of university life (e.g., for academic freedom, free discussion and debate of ideas). Recently, I posted about a case involving the University of Victoria (see Does the Charter Apply to Universities? Pridgen Distinguished in U Vic Case) in which the British Columbia Supreme Court did not follow the judgment of Alberta Court of Appeal Justice Paperny in Pridgen v University of Calgary, 2012 ABCA 139. Although the case law synthesized by Justice Paperny was not determinative in Pridgen, her judgment provides an excellent, logical synthesis of how the precedents on the application of the Charter should be applied in various contexts, including universities. This post discusses the BCCA decision on the University of Victoria case.

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Who Are the “Parents of the Nation”? Thoughts on the Stephan Case and Section 215 of the Criminal Code

By: Lisa Silver

PDF Version: Who are the “Parents of the Nation”? Thoughts on the Stephan Case and Section 215 of the Criminal Code

Matter commented on: Section 215 of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46

Much has been written and said on the characteristics of a “good” parent. Such information is easily accessible by anyone with a library card and internet access. It can be found by a click of our mouse on various blog postings (click here for a list of parenting blogs, which share the “real truth” about parenting) and dedicated websites (click here for a list of “not-to-be-missed” websites). Even celebrity has something to say about parenting practices; cue self-styled “lifestyle” guru, Gwyneth Paltrow, who famously has her children on a controversial low-carb, sugar free diet. Social media is another fount of information, often in the form of criticism or apologies. All of these venues enforce a “normative” notion of parenting. But through all this data there seems to be a bright-line drawn between “good” and “bad” parenting. For example, “bad” parents administer cocaine to a child (R v TB, 2010 ONSC 1579), knowingly leave a child in a car for an extended period of time during a hot summer afternoon (R v Huang, 2015 ONCJ 46), or intentionally attack a child with a knife (R v BJG, 2013 ABCA 260). In those instances, the egregious conduct is not merely “bad” parenting but criminal behavior deserving of state imposed sanctions and its concomitant stigma. Although we can recognize “criminal” parenting when we see it, the real difficulty lies in identifying behaviors that are not so evidently “bad.” The recent Stephan case has ignited a debate on where that line between “bad” and “criminal” should be drawn; or is the line already drawn perhaps not as bright as we might have previously believed? Continue reading

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Vagueness in FOIPP: Can Citizens Effectively Access Their Personal Information?

By: Lynn Anderson

PDF Version: Vagueness in FOIPP: Can Citizens Effectively Access Their Personal Information?

Case Commented on: Edmonton (City) v Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2016 ABCA 110

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSA 2000, c. F-25 (“FOIPPA”, or “the Act”) outlines the obligations of a public body to provide access to records, including access to your own personal information. The overall purpose of the Act (s 2) is to balance our right to access records in the custody and control of public bodies, like the City, with protecting the privacy of individuals by controlling the manner in which public bodies collect, use and disclose personal information. Although there are exceptions to accessing records, these are limited, and interpretation of the Act should be made with the goal of maximum disclosure. As citizens, we have a right to know what information about ourselves is being held by a public body. For example, if someone is making a complaint about us we have a right to know the details so we can defend ourselves. Disclosure by the public body allows citizens to participate in decisions in a more informed and meaningful way. Continue reading

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