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This week at the SCC

|Written By Heather Gardiner

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear four appeals this week.

Today the top court will hear the appeal in Attorney General of Canada v. Whaling, which challenges the federal government’s new crime bills, specifically the Abolition of Early Parole Act, which came into effect in 2011 and applied to all prisoners serving sentences at the time. The case brings into question the notion of being punished twice for the same offence.

Another closely watched case is Conception v. R., which looks at how under-resourced Ontario’s mental health system is and challenges judges’ authority to force hospitals to take offenders when they don’t have the resources.

Oct. 15British Columbia — Attorney General of Canada v. Whaling

Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Christopher Whaling was charged with several firearms offences. When he was sentenced, accelerated parole provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act allowed for early parole after serving one-sixth of the sentence. In 2011, the Abolition of Early Parole Act came into effect, which applied to prisoners already serving sentences, including Whaling. The main question in this case is whether the changes violate a person’s Charter right not to be punished twice for the same offence.

Read the B.C. Court of Appeal’s decision.

Oct. 16 — British Columbia — Knopf v. Khela

Charter of Rights and Freedoms: In September 2009, Gurkirpal Singh Khela was serving a life sentence at Mission Institute, a medium security facility, when another inmate was stabbed. The institute conducted an investigation. Unidentified sources and two anonymous tips alleged that Khela paid two inmates in heroin to carry out the stabbing. The warden, Diane Knopf, ordered Khela’s transfer to a maximum security facility. In his submissions, Khela objected to the adequacy of disclosure of the information the warden relied upon.

Read the B.C. Court of Appeal’s decision.

Other related news articles:

Court Updates: From Paul Khela to Baljinder Kandola, The Vancouver Sun

Paul Khela Gets Six Months for Jailhouse Stabbing, The Vancouver Sun

Oct. 17 — Ontario — Conception v. R.

Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Brian Conception was charged with sexual assault. When he appeared in court, he was in a psychotic state and declared unfit to stand trial. The judge issued an immediate treatment order, specifically stating that he be taken to a mental health facility and not to jail. Conception was taken to the Mental Health Center Penetanguishene and left in a hallway. The respondent hospitals appealed the order. By the time the appeal began the charge was stayed. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that ss. 672.58 and 672.62(1)(a) of the Criminal Code infringe the Charter rights to liberty and security of the person but the infringement is in accordance with principles of fundamental justice. The court also held that the hospitals did not give their consent for the treatment order as was required under the Criminal Code.

Read the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision.

Other related news articles:

Ontario’s Court of Appeal bars mental health judges from forcing hospitals to take offenders, The Globe and Mail

Part I – The Treatment of Treatment Orders For Treating the Accused: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) v Ontario, The Court

Oct. 18 — Quebec — R.L. v. R.

Criminal law: Between 1996-2005, R.L., who has an intellectual disability, pleaded guilty to 14 offences, including sexual assault, assault, breach of a recognizance, and breach of probation. During a criminal trial in 2011, a judge found him unfit to stand trial. R.L. then filed a motion to appeal his prior convictions on the grounds that he had been unfit to stand trial on the charges to which he had pleaded guilty. There is a publication ban in the case.


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