Judge declares Harper government's gun law 'cruel and unusual punishment' | National Union of Public and General Employees

Judge declares Harper government's gun law 'cruel and unusual punishment'

"Harper and his government are not being tough on crime, they are being dumb on crime," says James Clancy, NUPGE National President.

Ottawa (14 Feb. 2012) - A Toronto judge has ruled that a mandatory minimum prison sentence in the case before her would be unconstitutional as it is "cruel and unusual punishment".  The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) hopes that the ruling results in the Harper government rethinking their approach to criminal justice issues.

In the case, Ontario Superior Court Judge Anne Molloy decided that a three year prison sentence for a man, even though he was found holding a loaded handgun, was unconstitutional.

Leroy Smickle, 30, of Toronto, was caught posing with a pistol in front of a web camera when police entered his cousins apartment.

"A reasonable person knowing the circumstances of this case, and the principles underlying both the Charter and the general sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code, would consider a three year sentence to be fundamentally unfair, outrageous, abhorrent and intolerable", the judge wrote in her judgment released Monday, February 13, 2012.

Malloy ruled that the Criminal Code's mandatory minimum provision violated the Charter rights of the accused and she struck it down. Instead, he was sentenced to five months house arrest in addition to the seven months spent in pre-trial custody.

Malloy wrote that Section 12 of the Charter provides that, "Everyone has the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. That right is enshrined in our Constitution, which is declared to be the supreme law of Canada such that any law inconsistent with the Charter is to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force and effect".

The Judge recognized the danger of guns used in the commission of a crime but rejected the "one-size-fits-all" approach that the mandatory sentencing entailed.

The federal government has defended mandatory minimums and has suggested that an appeal is likely.

NUPGE's National President James Clancy has been a vocal critic of the Harper government's anti-crime agenda. Clancy explains that "these tough on crime policies have been shown neither to reduce crime nor make our communities safer. It is a flawed approach that has been discredited wherever it has been tried.  Instead, scarce tax dollars should be spent on prevention and rehabilitation programs in our communities and jails."

"Harper and his government are not being tough on crime, they are being dumb on crime," said Clancy.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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