The Supreme Court’s rejection of Justice Marc Nadon, the Harper government’s nominee to fill the current vacancy in the court, is a hopeful sign for criminal defence lawyers and their clients. The ruling is generally interpreted as expressing the court’s displeasure with the government’s attempt to influence the ideology of the nation’s highest tribunal at the expense of legal tradition and the professional qualifications of the new member of the court. Several cases arising from Harper’s ‘tough on crime’ legislation are either currently before the court or working their way there. Probably the most important ruling is expected within a few months, when the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear an appeal from the unanimous Ontario Court of Appeal decision declaring to be unconstitutional the three year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of illegal firearms with ammunition. In another case arguments have already been heard concerning the availability of enhanced credit on sentence for pre-trial detention. Hopefully the court will continue to express its aversion to the Conservatives’ meddling with the ability of judges to exercise their discretion in dealing with criminal cases.
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