Law Times - Newsmakers

Dec 2011 Newsmakers

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top stories Omnibus bill revamps criminal practice But provinces, lawyers prepared for fight over crime legislation BY KENDYL SEBESTA W ith their long-sought majority finally a reality, the Conservatives intro- duced a controversial crime bill that sparked a backlash from the country's legal community and provincial politicians in Ontario and Quebec. In September, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson introduced the omnibus bill that rolled nine pieces of legislation that were not passed in the previous ses- sion of Parliament into one. It proposes changes to several laws and creates new offences in the Criminal Code. The bill includes the previous bill C-16 up that tab." Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier had earlier echoed that sentiment before a House of Commons committee in Ottawa, according to The Canadian Press. "I'm going to tell you, red light, we're not going to pay them, is that clear enough?" he said. But in August, Nicholson brushed off the that would eliminate conditional sentences for serious personal injury crimes and alter the number of offences prosecuted by indictment. In addition, it brings back bill C-4, a law that seeks to create tougher sentences for violent and repeat young offenders while limiting restrictions that prevent the publication of their names. The crime bill comes after the government passed mega-trial legislation in the summer in an attempt to speed up complex and expensive proceedings that have gone on for years. Yet Quebec, Ontario, and a slew of critics in Canada's legal community aren't fully on board with the changes. Many lawyers strongly opposed the measures as unconstitutional and going too far in removing judicial discretion, while the two provinces said they'd refuse to pay for the costs of implementing the bill. "It's easy for the federal government to pass new laws dealing with crime," Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa in November. "But if there are new costs associated with those laws that have to be borne by taxpayers in the province of Ontario, then I expect that the feds will pick Justice Minister Rob Nicholson brushed off lawyers' criticisms during the Canadian Bar Association conference in August. barrage of criticisms at the Canadian Bar Association's conference in Halifax. "That is our job," he said in defence of mandatory minimum sentences. "We set the guidelines where we believe they are appropriate." Many lawyers, however, aren't buying it. As Toronto criminal lawyer John Rosen told Law Times in September, mandatory mini- mum sentences have been "traditionally a public policy tool in cases such as murder with the aim of stigmatizing the conduct rather than punishing the offender." But, he added: "When you start adding to the list of [minimum] sentences, you start to wonder whether or not we've gone beyond a public policy of trying to stop a certain kind of conduct and we've ventured into the realm of punishment pure and simple." In the meantime, it appears the Conservative government isn't too keen on dragging out the debate on the bill. Last month, it sought to limit debate on it, and Nicholson reiterated his defence of the bill at a County & District Law Presidents' Association event in Toronto around the same time. So while lawyers and the prov- inces might not be happy about the changes, they have little choice. As Law Times columnist Rosalind Conway wrote of the legislation, "Bill C-10 will change the way we practise criminal law." As a result, she urged lawyers to prepare for the changes. "Let none of us be the criminal lawyer who missed telling the client the consequences of a guilty plea and gave bad advice," she wrote. ESTATE WINE AUCTIONS Iron Gate – Private Wine Management is the only private company in Ontario with experience holding successful estate wine auctions. Our rate structure is less than the LCBO Vintages auction. Maximize the return for your estate, simplify the process, choose your own date. Contact us today! Untitled-1 1 2011 top news & newsmakers 13 11-11-17 10:48 AM

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