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Ottawa Criminal Defence Law Blog

The Perils of Bill C-75 (Or: Why We Should Care About Criminal Justice Policy)

It has been almost a month since the Liberal government tabled its new criminal justice bill on March 29th. There was a flurry of activity on Twitter over that weekend as defence lawyers, including myself, decried the changes that Bill C-75 proposes. There have been a wide range of reactions to the bill, which seeks to reform a number of different areas of criminal justice. But the reactions are largely from those who work in the criminal justice system, and may not yet have permeated the public consciousness in a meaningful way.

February 2018 Criminal Law Round-up


Verdicts in the trials of Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier  in the deaths of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine lead to outrage for the loss of life of Indigenous people. Stanley's verdict had many people not only angry, but confused, given the discrete issues around the defence accidental discharge of a firearm. Michael Plaxton helpfully broke down the 'hangfire' evidence in the Gerald Stanley trial in his article for the Globe and Mail. Still, both cases sparked discussion about juries in Canada, and whether they are serving Indigenous people appropriately. This piece of investigative journalism from The Star revealed how the jury selection system leaves out many diverse Canadians from the pool of prospective jurors.and calls for the use of different resources, such as OHIP registration in Ontario, to put together juries. 

Policing Black Lives: A Guide for Lawyers

Robyn Maynard's book Policing Black Lives charts the history and implications of anti-Black racism in Canada, spanning slavery, education, immigration, policing, and criminal justice. The book is not specifically intended for participants in the criminal justice system: Maynard states in the introduction that her goal is to make anti-Blackness legible for activists, policymakers, students and concerned community members. However, the book provides important insight and background for those involved in the justice system, particularly for defence lawyers.

On technology and access to justice

In December, I was asked to contribute to an episode of The Docket podcast (The Docket's Year End Extravaganza) to talk about a prediction, hope or wish for 2018. As I mused about what changes I wanted to see in our legal landscape, I couldn't help but come back to the funding of Legal Aid. This issue is a perennial problem for lawyers and accused people alike. The eligibility requirements for legal aid are so low that a large swath of people who make 'too much' money to qualify are left to represent themselves. On the other side, the rates at which Legal Aid pays lawyers often falls far below what is needed to properly prepare for a case. Lawyers consistently do work at a reduced price, or for free, in order to vigorously defend our clients.

December 2017 Criminal Law Round-Up

Better late than never, here are the news and cases of the last month of 2017!


There was not a lot of news this month, save for the important announcement of the new Chief Justice of Canada as Richard Wagner, following Beverly McLachin's retirement from the Supreme Court of Canada.

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