I have since come across a Canadian examination of reverse onus portions of the criminal code in R. v. Laba.
The Court agreed that a reverse onus does violate the Charter. The only question, then, is whether or not a reverse onus proposal violates s.1 of the Charter:
The appellant conceded that the reverse onus provision in s. 394(1)(b) of the Criminal Code contravened the presumption of innocence guaranteed by s. 11(d) of the Charter and therefore Tarnopolsky J.A. examined only the question of whether the violation could be saved as a reasonable limit under s. 1 of the Charter.
And the Court's conclusion?
I (Sopinka) would answer the constitutional questions as follows:
1.Does s. 394(1)(b) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, infringe s. 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
2.If the answer to question 1 is in the affirmative, is s. 394(1)(b) of the Criminal Code a reasonable limit on the s. 11(d) Charter right, pursuant to s. 1 of the Charter?
No.As a consequence, pursuant to s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, I would strike down the portion of s. 394(1)(b) which is unconstitutional by removing the portion which imposes the legal burden of proving ownership, agency or lawful authority upon the accused.
I suppose the question is, is a reverse onus in the case of a gun crime a fair limit on the Charter right of the presumption of innocence?
"The portion of s. 515(10)(c) permitting detention "on any other just cause being shown" is unconstitutional. Because the impugned phrase confers an open-ended judicial discretion to refuse bail, it is inconsistent with both s. 11(e) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees a right "not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause", and the presumption of innocence. It is a fundamental principle of justice that an individual cannot be detained by virtue of a vague legal provision. Parliament must lay out narrow and precise circumstances in which bail can be denied. The impugned phrase is not justified under s. 1 of the Charter. Its generality impels its failure of the proportionality branch of the Oakes test."