This bail review summarizes how the Gladue principles can apply to bail. Not only has Indigenous programming in remand been suspended for the pandemic, the Indigenous accused’s asthmatic condition was also taken into account in this decision.
Mr. Gaudet is an accused that identifies as Indigenous. Gladue principles and purposes apply to all situations where an Indigenous person’s liberty is at stake. Section 493.2 of the Criminal Code [“CC”] provides that a judge shall give particular attention to the circumstances of an Indigenous person in making a bail decision. The inference to be drawn from the accused’s sentencing record is that he is a regular but minor offence offender. In the last 5 years, the accused has been convicted of failing to attend court or compliance with conditions of undertaking, recognizance or probation five times. He had two assault convictions in that period. This latest stint of detention is his longest in the last five years.
This review centers on the impact of time and unreasonable delay on the proportionality of detention, the rational offered for the original detention order and any new information brought forward. The issue is whether continued detention in custody is justified five months later within the parameters of s 515(10), in the context of an accused who identifies as Indigenous in the midst of the pandemic that lugs in public health and trial scheduling concerns.
The right to reasonable bail is entrenched in s 11(e) of the Charter and is closely connected to other entrenched constitutional rights such as the presumption of innocence (s 11(d)), the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned (s 9) and the right to liberty and security (s 7). The Supreme Court of Canada iterates that the pre-trial release of accused persons is the cardinal rule and detention the exception (R v Myers, 2019 SCC 27). Section 493.1 of the CC provides that release on reasonable terms is favoured at the earliest reasonable opportunity on the least onerous appropriate conditions including conditions that are reasonably practicable for the accused to comply with.
Given that the examination of Gladue factors in sentencing is directed at diminished moral blameworthiness for an offence in sentencing, the same application without adaptation in a bail proceeding could inappropriately violate the presumption of innocence. The interaction of Gladue principles and s 515(10) cannot be brought to bear in a vacuum. Consideration might include the factors, such as colonization and so on and practices that disproportionately affect Indigenous persons and contribute to their over-incarceration. The principle of restraint in bail is codified in s 493.1. The interim release process is not the time to apply rehabilitative or reformative provisions. Provisions looking like probation or conditional sentence are problematic.
Trial bottlenecks in the criminal justice trial system arising from pandemic restrictions are for now frustrating that option. There are valid reasons for releasing the accused. Prospects for timely trial fade on a daily basis. It is also reported that the Indigenous support programs in the detention center were terminated in March and emphasized the importance of the loss of this support on the accused’s mental health. The accused also suffers with asthma, which is a tertiary ground circumstance. Living conditions at the detention center do not permit social distancing. The pandemic stands as a material change in circumstances since the accused’s last bail hearing.
The accused’s record indicates that he honours conditions when a breach would result in automatic incarceration. If the accused breaches, his only source of trusted support, Ms. Seguin will report it. She will post a bond without cash in the amount of $1,000. For a person in her financial circumstances that is a significant commitment and imports the tug of bail on her part. The accused is to enter into a recognizance with surety, Ms. Seguin. She knows she is undertaking the role of jailor and if she neglects her duties, she will be called on to pay up.