Monday, January 02, 2006

Globe and Mail: Martin/McGuinty gun offence proposal legal problem hits the media

Well, as least I am not the only one saying it. The Globe and Mail has the law gods, ie. law professors, commenting on the latest "reverse onus" proposal and whether it not it violates the Charter: "Liberals are backing a tough-on-crime proposal that would put the onus on those accused of committing a gun offence to show why they should not be locked up":
"It's truly a crap shoot," Peter Russell, a retired University of Toronto political science professor, said about the likelihood this particular proposal would survive a Charter challenge.

"I think that it would be a tough case to make . . . the actual rise in gun-related crimes is not huge. It's a small blip. It doesn't point to a long-term trend yet," he said, adding that the Liberals' support of the proposal smacks of opportunistic electioneering.

Gerald Gall, a law professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said the government would have to argue there is a "pressing state objective" for the new law because the Criminal Code applies "not just to Toronto, but the rest of the country.''

"You would have to examine the prevalence of it nationally rather than in one particular geographic locale," he added.

Prof. Gall said the Supreme Court has accepted the concept of reverse onus in some circumstances, but that it is difficult to argue even though the Charter permits governments to impose "reasonable limits" on a right.

Mr. Reid has acknowledged that the reverse-onus bail provision will require justification under the Charter of Rights, but the Liberals believe the courts will recognize the public importance of the new law.

He also acknowledged it will be controversial.

"You'll get six lawyers with seven opinions, is my guess. But why should that alter the effort on the part of governments?" he asked.

So, there you have it: from the mouth of the gods. And I agree with them.

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