Legally Speaking with Michael Mulligan

Bill C-22 minimum sentences, Esquimalt Police civil claim, and the secrecy of jury deliberations

December 09, 2021 Michael Mulligan
Legally Speaking with Michael Mulligan
Bill C-22 minimum sentences, Esquimalt Police civil claim, and the secrecy of jury deliberations
Show Notes

This week on Legally Speaking with Michael Mulligan:

The previous Conservative federal government added numerous mandatory minimum jail sentences to the Criminal Code and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. While they have failed to deter crime, they have contributed to the disproportionate number of indigenous and Black Canadians in jail.

Indigenous Canadians represent approximately 5 percent of the population but are 30 percent of federal prisoners. This is double the percentage from twenty years ago.

Black Canadians represent 3 percent of the population but are 7.2 percent of federal prisoners.

Recently introduced Bill C-22 will eliminate 14 of 64 mandatory minimum sentences for everything from possessing tobacco without excise tax stamps, to various firearms and drug offences.

Since the mandatory minimum sentences were introduced, many of them have been struck down as being unconstitutional because they resulted in sentences that were found to be “grossly disproportionate”.

Almost nobody knows what the patchwork of mandatory minimum sentences are, or when they would apply, making them completely ineffective at deterring crime.

Criminal Codes have had to add charts that run on for hundreds of pages to clarify what sentences apply to various offences. Not many people are consulting the charts before deciding if they will attempt to get away without the required stamp on their tobacco products.

Also on the show, a Notice of Civil Claim commencing a lawsuit against four former Esquimalt Police Officers is discussed.

The claim is being brought by a woman who, in 1988, was recruited to be a police informant while she was in Grade 9 at Esquimalt High School. She alleges that she was subjected to a range of abuse by the police officers including numerous sexual assaults. She further alleges that the police officers directed her to engage in activity including making false reports to Crime Stoppers.

The Notice of Civil claim indicates that a 1995 investigation by the Victoria Police Department concluded that the woman was an honest and reliable individual and that many of her allegations were corroborated by other witnesses and or supporting records. It indicates that the woman suffered overwhelming emotional and psychological terror and was unable to complete her testimony at a resulting inquiry.

While the allegations in the Notice of Civil claim have not been proven in court, they raise significant public policy questions including the appropriateness of permitting minors to be paid police informants given their vulnerability to abuse.

If police officers were utilizing a paid informant to make false reports to Crime Stoppers, this is also of serious concern. Anonymous Crime Stoppers reports can serve as the basis for search warrants being issued, and police investigations to be undertaken. People making anonymous reports can also be paid. The system is clearly susceptible to abuse of the kind alleged.

As discussed on the show, one of the former police officers accused of wrongdoing has been the subject of judicial criticism for the reliability of his evidence in court.

Finally, differences between the Canadian and US jury systems are discussed in the context of a recently overturned murder conviction in Washington state. In the US, unlike in Canada, jurors are both permitted to discuss what occurred during deliberations and are subject to routine questioning before being allowed to serve on a jury.

Follow this link for a transcript of the show and links to the cases discussed.