While the Duffy verdict dominated headlines, there were lots of other criminal law news and cases of note this month:
The Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre continued to make the news, with Minister Yasir Naqvi ultimately calling a task force to address the chronic overcrowding and harsh conditions. Read about the taskforce here, or find my thoughts on it in a previous blog post.
Macleans ran a heartbreaking story featuring a letter written to Kinew James, a woman who died at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon. The letter gives a rare insight into compassion and resilience of the women who are incarcerated in Canada. An inquest into James’ death began this month but is being adjourned to expand its scope to include her medical and mental health records from her time in custody.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, the Special Investigations Unit report in Andrew Loku’s death was finally (partially) released. Loku was killed by police in July of 2015, and after intense pressure by the group Black Lives Matter Toronto, the Ontario government released the findings of the report. Read some background as to the decision and the impact of the decision here.
In a lengthy decision, Justice Vaillancourt acquitted Mike Duffy was acquitted of all 31 counts of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. In case you aren’t up for reading the full decision, you can listen to Michael Spratt and Emilie Taman speak with law professor Peter Sankoff on their podcast “The Docket.“
The Supreme Court released two important criminal law decisions this month. R v. Lloyd dealt found the mandatory minimum sentence for drug possession where a person had a previous record for drugs was unconstitutional. In R v. Safarzadeh-Marhkali, the court found that the Conservative’s Truth in Sentencing Act, which limited pre-sentence custody to those detained awaiting trial because of their criminal records was also unconstitutional. The cases were seen as the court dismantling Harper’s ‘Tough on Crime’ regime. Read an overview of the cases here and see my thoughts on Safarzadeh-Markhali here.
The case of David and Collet Stephan, whose son died of meningitis after being treated with naturopathic remedies, drew lots of attention. The couple were ultimately convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life and the matter has been adjourned for sentencing.