R v Hall, 2021 ONSC 420

A Mohawk man has been designated a dangerous offender and sentenced to a period of imprisonment of 8 years in addition to the 769 days he has served since his arrest, followed by a Long-Term Supervision Order for 8 years. The protection of the public was paramount but it is not required that the offender should be subject to external controls for the rest of his life, as would be the case with an indeterminate sentence.

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Edward Hall, a Mohawk man, has entered guilty pleas to the offences of aggravated assault, break and enter, choking, and failing to comply with probation. Mr. Hall is 51-year-old years old. At the time he committed the offences, he was bound by two probation orders relating to two convictions for aggravated assault.

Mr. Hall has a criminal record in both Canada and the United States. Between the two countries, he has been convicted of approximately 60 offences. His Gladue report provided a detailed history of Mr. Hall’s childhood. His mother was a registered Mohawk of Akwesasne band member and former resident. His father was half-Mohawk. Both died in 2019 while Mr. Hall was in custody. Akwesasne is a nation of Mohawk people situated along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. It straddles the border between the United States and Canada, and includes territory within the jurisdictions of New York State, Ontario, and Quebec. The Mohawks of Akwesasne have been severely impacted by policies of assimilation aimed at eradicating Indigenous cultures. The intense suffering these policies have caused have had intergenerational impacts that continue to be felt today.

The impacts of this intergenerational trauma are evident in Mr. Hall’s history, including the physical and emotional abuse he suffered as a child; his early addictions to alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine; his loss of his connection to his community; the lack of employment skills, education, and functionality; and the racism he has faced in various communities and institutions. Mr. Hall states that the trauma that he experienced as a child has stayed with him, where he has nightmares and flashbacks of abuse.

The Waseskun Healing Center [“Waseskun”] is recommended as an option for residential treatment that has a culturally focused approach. However, Mr. Hall’s prior history of community supervision is noted to have been poor in almost every instance. In addition, he breached the last probation order imposed upon him, both by committing the index offence and by engaging in smuggling to support himself.

Public protection is the general purpose of the dangerous offender provisions. The protection of the public is an enhanced sentencing objective for individuals who have been designated dangerous, even while sentencing judges retain the discretion to “look at the whole picture”. The sentencing judge must impose the least intrusive sentence required to achieve the primary purpose of the legislation (R v Boutilier, 2017 SCC 64; R v Spilman, 2018 ONCA 551). Mr. Hall’s most serious offences have occurred while he was in his 40s. This pattern, however, does not place him outside the statistical pattern in the literature that sees persons who share his characteristics significantly diminishing at least the frequency of their offending in their 50s and 60s.

Mr. Hall committed a vicious assault in the context of a planned home invasion offence while he was on two probation orders relating to two recent convictions for aggravated assault. He used a weapon and choked his victim to the point of unconsciousness. The public must be protected from conduct like this by Mr. Hall in the future. On the mitigating side, the Court considered Mr. Hall’s diminished moral blameworthiness for the offences given the impact of Gladue factors, and that he pleaded guilty to the predicate offences.

Mr. Hall is designated a dangerous offender. The custodial sentence of 8 additional years will bring Mr. Hall to the age of roughly 59.5 years. The Long-Term Supervision Order [“LTSO”] will continue until Mr. Hall is 67. The custodial portion of the sentence will provide Mr. Hall with time to take the treatment offered to him and demonstrate that he can apply any lessons he has learned to reduce his risk. Parole will be available to him if he makes sufficient progress. A lesser sentence will not adequately protect the public. The need to protect the public militates against awarding enhanced credit to Mr. Hall for his presentence custody of 769 days. Awarding enhanced credit would reduce the period of time for which Mr. Hall will be subject to outside controls. On the totality of the evidence, this is the least intrusive of the options to adequately protect the public against Mr. Hall’s future commission of murder or a serious personal injury offence.

As for the importance of treatment with a cultural component such as that offered at Waseskun, if Mr. Hall has access to treatment that incorporates Indigenous culture and values, this is for the good insofar as it may assist him with certain personal issues and in reintegrating into the community. In the event Mr. Hall makes sufficient progress with his skills-based treatment for anger management and substance abuse and reduces his risk of reoffending, he may apply to and be accepted at Waseskun. If Mr. Hall does not make progress during the custodial part of his sentence, he can expect that this opportunity will not be available to him, even while serving the LTSO, because he will be ordered to reside at a community correctional centre.

R v Simon, 2020 NWTSC 46

An Indigenous offender convicted for a major sexual assault, has been designated a Long Term Offender and sentenced to a prison term of 6 years and 8 months, with credit for time spent on remand. The offender has considerable issues to address to overcome his substance abuse disorder and traumas from his past, and maintain a pro-social lifestyle. A jail term should afford him an opportunity to have access to the programming that he needs.

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Following a jury trial held in Inuvik, Mr. Simon was convicted for a sexual assault committed against HK. The background that led to Mr. Simon’s conviction was that he and the victim had known each other for many years. On the day of the incident, they had spent some time together on the streets of Inuvik, drinking. They went to the apartment of someone that the victim knew, looking for more alcohol. Because no one was home, they broke into the apartment and stole mickeys of vodka from the fridge. They then left the apartment ending up in a staircase where they drank the mickeys. At some point Mr. Simon started pushing the victim on the chest with his hands until she fell onto her back, where she was subsequently sexually assaulted. Mr. Simon then left the building. Eventually, the victim got dressed and went directly to the warming shelter where she called the RCMP.

Mr. Simon is now 39 years old. He is Gwich’in, which engages the special legal framework that governs the sentencing of Indigenous offenders. That framework applies to Dangerous Offender and Long Term Offender proceedings (R v Ipeelee, 2012 SCC 13; R v Boutillier, 2017 SCC 64). Mr. Simon’s childhood was deeply traumatic. He does not know who his father is and lived with his mother until he was 5 years old. After that, for many years he lived mainly with his grandfather, whereupon Mr. Simon suffered very serious physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his grandfather between the ages of 5 and 18. This abuse happened when his grandfather was intoxicated. Mr. Simon witnessed violence and fights in the home on a regular basis.

When Mr. Simon was 14 years old, his mother was stabbed to death. He believes, and has for years, that his grandfather was responsible for her death. He has also suspected for years that his grandfather may in fact be his biological father. Mr. Simon began consuming alcohol at a very young age, around 5 or 7 years old, and was using alcohol regularly before he turned 12. When he was 11 years old a relative introduced him to sniffing gasoline. He began sniffing gasoline, propane and other inhalants on a regular basis. All his life, he was never cared for properly, nor had rules or structure. He went hungry and he did not have proper clothing for the seasons. Mr. Simon has an extensive criminal record which includes a wide variety of offenses ranging from relatively minor offenses to very serious ones.

Although Mr. Simon believes that the death of his grandfather sets the stage for a major change in his life, it is likely that any significant change will require intensive therapeutic intervention and ongoing support. His rehabilitation, as well as the protection of the public, require that he be subject to external controls beyond the reach of the term of imprisonment that must be imposed for his sexual assault of HK. Considering the fact that Mr. Simon has no impediment, cognitive or otherwise, to taking treatment and programming, that he is motivated and has engaged in programming in the past, it is not necessary to have him subjected to outside controls for a further 8 years after the completion of the custodial portion of his sentence.

R v Olson, 2021 BCSC 61

An appropriate cumulative sentence of 11 and ½ years is imposed for an offender found guilty for a string of offences that are violent. Despite a tenuous connection to some Indigenous heritage, a Gladue report was ordered and considered in the sentencing process.

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Mr. Olson was found guilty, following a trial, of six counts contrary to the the Criminal Code from events that took place in 2017, including assault with a weapon, contrary to s 267(a); the reckless discharge of a firearm; possession of a loaded prohibited firearm (a sawed off shotgun) without a licence; possession of a firearm while prohibited; possession of stolen property in excess of $5000; and resist or wilfully obstruct a peace officer.

A Gladue report was obtained for Mr. Olson upon the Crown learning of possible Indigenous heritage. Mr. Olson, now 41, has a very lengthy criminal record, reaching back to 2001, with 58 prior convictions. Mr. Olson had a troubled childhood and felt unfairly treated by his stepfather. He recently reconnected with his mother and learned that there could be some Indigenous heritage on his mother’s side, that is a great, great grandmother, was believed to be First Nations. According to the Gladue report, Mr. Olson has six children with different mothers, and maintains some limited contact with one of his children. The Gladue report writer, noted that the Indigenous lineage could not be independently corroborated, and focussed on corrections and community resources available to Mr. Olson arising out of this somewhat tenuous connection.

It is clear from the nature of his offences and the risk of Mr. Olson reoffending that the principles of deterrence and denunciation are paramount, along with the protection of the public. However, there is a potential for rehabilitation that must also be taken into account, including considering the principles set out in s 718.2(b), (c), (d) and (e), that is, parity of sentencing, the totality principle, and restraint in imposing terms of imprisonment.

This string of offences is long and involves violence. Although there are connections between some of the counts, the indictment has a number of offences with slight or no connections. It is difficult to determine an appropriate and fair approach. Concurrent sentences are used where appropriate, but some of the sentences must necessarily be consecutive (R v M(CA), [1996] SCR 500). A total of 11 1⁄2 years, with credit for time served, is an appropriate cumulative sentence of this series of offences, and does not offend the totality principle.

TA v Alberta (Children’s Services), 2020 ABQB 97

The Plaintiff, a Cree woman, filed a Statement of Claim against a number of parties after her children were apprehended by Children’s Services. The Application to strike the Statement of Claim and the Application for Summary Judgement were granted. 

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The Plaintiff [“TA”] is a Cree woman whose six children were apprehended pursuant to court orders under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. The Claim criticized Edmonton Children’s Services’ [“CS”] handling of the apprehension of the children and sought a broad range of remedies. The Defendants pleaded that CS owed no legal duty of care to TA as the subject parent responding to CS actions and that the child protection proceedings have been handled properly and in good faith. The psychologist who assessed TA additionally asked for summary judgment on the basis that the only evidence has shown that they met their standard of care and acted in circumstances of qualified privilege.

The Defendants applied to strike the Claim as an abusive collateral attack on child protection proceedings pursuant to Rule 3.68(2)(d) and because it disclosed no cause of action. The Court relied on the rule that it is an abuse of process to attempt to relitigate a matter already decided (Dykun v Odishaw, 2000 ABQB 548). Further, the Court found that the wrongs in which TA says were done to her do not create causes of action against the Defendants, and the remedies she asks for are mostly beyond the jurisdiction of this Court. The action is doomed to fail because the mere fact that someone has done something that you do not like, treated you unfairly, or caused you emotional distress, does not automatically create a right to sue them.

The Claim was struck in its entirety, save for the defamation claim against the psychologist. The Court looked to Rule 7.3(b) which provides that a party may apply for a summary judgment where there is no defence or merit to some or part of a claim (Weir-Jones Technical Services Incorporated v Purolator Courier Ltd, 2019 ABCA 49). The plaintiff offered no factual basis to conclude the professional assessment was conducted negligently.

The Court concluded that the lawsuit is an abuse of process in the technical sense that it attempts to relitigate completed court proceedings and is based on a variety of complaints that do not give the Plaintiff a cause of action, irrespective of whether they are accurate or not. The application to strike the Claim and the application for summary judgment are granted.

R v Wood, 2021 MBQB 4

An imposed sentence for 18 years’ incarceration is considered fit for an Indigenous offender convicted of manslaughter for killing his wife. His moral blameworthiness, even when tempered for his Gladue circumstances, is very high. Denunciation is critical in condemning spousal violence, particularly the chronic threat to Indigenous women. While restorative sentences are important in many situations of an Indigenous victim and abuser, that is far less so in cases of murder or manslaughter.

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In 2018, Jonathon Wood was convicted of manslaughter for killing his wife, Kathleen Wood, in their home community of St. Theresa Point First Nation, Manitoba. Both Mr. Wood and his wife are Indigenous persons who were raised, and lived in the isolated First Nation with a population of about 4,000 people, accessible only by air, boat or winter ice-road. They began their relationship in 2004 and were married in 2010. Mr. Wood intermittently assaulted Mrs. Wood since 2012. He was convicted of assaulting her four times. By this point, they had three children together, along with an older boy from Mrs. Wood’s prior relationship. These assaults followed a consistent pattern.

When Mr, Wood attacked Mrs. Wood in 2013, 2014 and 2015, he was on some form of bail or probation aimed at reducing the chance he would assault her again. When he ultimately assaulted and killed her, he was still bound by two Probation Orders which stipulated he was not to have contact with Mrs. Wood and imposed restrictions on him when drinking. Regardless of these Orders, Mr. Wood was charged again for assault and aggravated assault of several people, including Mrs. Wood, as well as four probation breaches. He was released on a Recognizance which included not to communicate with Mrs. Wood, and in part, allowed him to be arrested even if he was just in the area of St. Theresa Point.

Despite the court orders, and his promise to abide by them, Mr. Wood went to St. Theresa Point to see his family and Mrs. Wood. A party took place at Mr. Wood’s brother’s residence, and all were intoxicated. As the evening progressed, Mr. and Mrs. Wood got into an argument, which eventually led to Mr. Wood assaulting Mrs. Wood with his fists and feet, repeating the escalating pattern of the four prior convictions. The brother wanted to check on Mrs. Wood, who was then lying on the floor, but Mr. Wood told him to leave her alone, that she was just passed-out. Concerned, the brother went next door for help but returned moments later to Mrs. Wood no longer breathing.

Mrs. Wood’s injuries were awful. The autopsy revealed the true devastation. The forensic pathologist detailed many injuries including numerous bones broken, including her jaw, left clavicle, left wrist and all 24 ribs, 23 of which had multiple fractures. She also suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, full-thickness tongue laceration, contusions and lacerations of the lungs and diaphragm, and contusion of the liver. There was no evidence Mrs. Wood’s injuries were caused by anything other than Mr. Wood beating her at the party.

A pre-sentence and Gladue report was prepared for sentencing. Mr. Wood left school with very little education, and no employable skills. There is nothing to suggest Mr. Wood experienced any mental health concerns. Poverty, unemployment, lack of education and substance abuse were negative influences in Mr. Wood’s upbringing. During the course of his times in custody, Mr. Wood participated in many programs, including anger management, parenting skills and healthy relationships.

The vulnerability of a victim, particularly a woman in a domestic context, are well established aggravating factors on sentencing and ones which emphasize denunciation and deterrence (R v LP, 2020 QCCA 1239). Generally, spousal killings attract a higher sentence, and greater condemnation, than other types of manslaughter (s 718.2(a)(ii) of the Criminal Code). Mrs. Wood’s Indigenous status, and living in a community so under-serviced and isolated as St. Theresa Point First Nation, heightened her vulnerability to spousal violence (R v AD, 2019 ABCA 396). It is clear that this event was not only catastrophic for Mrs. Wood but also for her four teenage children.

The nature of the beating was merciless. His previous pattern of beating Mrs. Wood and resulting convictions, his sober defiance of court orders, and his willful disregard for placing her, his wife, in situations of grave danger, adds considerably to his blameworthiness. Denunciation is critical in condemning spousal violence, particularly the chronic threat to Indigenous women. There is the need to separate Mr. Wood from his community so he is no longer a threat to them.

R v Nahanee, 2021 BCCA 13

Appeal dismissed. The Appellant’s guilty plea was not accompanied by a joint submission on sentencing, thereby the trial judge was not obliged to notify counsel that she planned to impose a longer sentence than what was sought by the Crown. The sentence was not demonstrably unfit, as the Appellant’s Indigenous heritage was taken into account when assessing aggravating factors.

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The Appellant, Mr. Nahanee, who grew up in the Squamish Nation Capilano Reserve in West Vancouver, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. The first count was against SR on one occasion, the second was against EN on many occasions. The sentencing judge ordered a pre-sentence report, a psychiatric assessment, and a Gladue report.

The offences against EN were committed over a long period. EN lived in the care of her grandparents, together with the Appellant, her uncle, between 2010 and 2015. When she first moved into their home, she was 13 years old, and the Appellant was 19 years old. The Appellant repeatedly assaulted her at night, and when she was 14 years old, the assaults escalated with so much frequency she lost track of the number. EN came forward to the police in 2018, after learning that Mr. Nahanee had also assaulted her younger cousin, SR. SR had told her grandmother about past assaults by her uncle, but was not believed by her family.

Gladue factors were considered at length by the trial judge, but did not weigh significantly in sentencing. The Appellant had not endured violence or abuse, and was raised in a safe home. She described the Appellant’s family’s history, and his forebears’ experience in residential schools and their loss of cultural and spiritual connections. She placed significant weight upon the fact the victim and the community in question here were Indigenous, and the victims, as a result, were much more vulnerable to sexual assault than their non-Indigenous counterparts (R v Barton, 2019 SCC 33; R v SPS, 2019 BCPC 158).

The admission made by the Appellant, amounted to an admission that there had been prior, uncharged assaults, the victim had reported them to her grandmother, and she had been disbelieved. Given that the admission was made to assist the court in sentencing following a guilty plea, no other purpose could be served by the admission. It was certainly not an admission that the victim had previously made false reports to her grandmother.

The sentencing judge acknowledged the obligation to consider the Gladue principles in this case, as in every case involving an Indigenous offender. Having done so, it was not an error to consider the extent to which the offender himself was affected by cultural oppression, social inequality and systemic discrimination. Appropriate care was taken in this case to identify Gladue factors and to determine whether they attenuated the Appellant’s moral blameworthiness. It should be borne in mind that the application of the Gladue principles in this case must also have been tempered by consideration of the fact the victims were Indigenous children. The effort at reconciliation that, in part, motivates the Gladue approach to sentencing, is not served by sentences that do not sufficiently deter violence against Indigenous children.

Paul v Correctional Services of Canada, 2020 NSSC 380

The Applicant, a Maliseet woman, has been partially successful. The Respondent prison authorities shall pay costs in the amount of $500.00 to the incarcerated Applicant. She will receive a declaration that the deprivation of her residual liberties that she experienced for a further 10 days in maximum security after it was determined she could return to medium security, was unlawful.

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The Applicant, Ms. Paul, brings this application for habeas corpus. She is serving a sentence for offences that include robbery, four counts of failure to comply with a Probation Order, and other counts. Ms. Paul is a 35-year-old first-time federal offender and is presently incarcerated at Nova Institute for Women [“Nova”]. She is Maliseet, and from St. Mary’s First Nation in New Brunswick [“SMFN”]. Her undisputed contentions are that she lives with long-standing addictions, and has reported diagnoses of bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, depression and anxiety. She also reports a history of sexual trauma and family fragmentation.

Nova is a women’s multilevel facility. In 2019, Ms. Paul was released and granted day parole from Nova which was subsequently suspended due to a urinalysis test performed in her community, which had returned positive for opiates. Prior to Ms. Paul’s return, Nova had received information from Ms. Paul’s community parole officer to the effect that it was believed that she would attempt to introduce drugs into the institution. Ms. Paul was subjected to testing by a drug sniffer dog, as well as an ion scanner upon arrival at Nova. This testing was positive for drugs, and as a result, the facility placed her in the Structured Intervention Unit [“SIU”], where she remained for six days. Ms. Paul no longer challenges her initial 6-day placement in the SIU. What she does challenge is the subsequent decision to detain her in the Secure Unit [“SU”], or maximum security, when the records at the institution always had her either classified or as a “recommended” medium security risk. Despite this, she remained in SU until the Warden’s Board accepted the recommendation and then was she moved into general population.

The Court concludes that Ms. Paul’s matter, although moot, merits a decision in the circumstances of this case (Borowski v Canada (AG), [1989] 1 SCR 342). Ms. Paul sustained a deprivation of liberty for the period of time during which she was in SU as opposed to a medium security setting. She was deprived of some of the liberties to which the general population inmates were entitled. Her security classification never changed from “medium”. This means that her treatment is subject to review by this Court on the basis of lawfulness and reasonableness.

Once a deprivation of liberty has been established by the Applicant, along with a legitimate ground upon which to question its legality, she bears no further burden. The onus shifts to the Respondent prison authorities to demonstrate on the balance of probabilities that it acted both lawfully and reasonably on both substantive and procedural grounds. It was reasonable on the part of the decision-makers at Nova to the placement of Ms. Paul in the SIU at first instance due to the above concerns. The Court concluded this placement was in conformity with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and therefore substantively reasonable.

However, there is no reference explaining why it took the institution ten days longer to convene the Wardens Board hearing. This length of time requires explanation and justification, which is part of the onus which the Respondent must discharge. This is particularly troubling given the fact that the impact of the SU placement on Ms. Paul was always known by the Respondents to have critical consequences to her well-being and must not be understated. The Respondent’s onus is not discharged merely by explaining and justifying the reason(s) as to why Ms. Paul was initially allowed less liberty than her medium security counterparts. It must also explain the length of time during which she was so deprived (Dumas v Leclerc Institute, [1986] 2 SCR 459).

In these circumstances, an explanation of why it took a further 10 days to confirm that Ms. Paul would be released into the medium security, general population, commensurate with her recommended and subsequently endorsed security rating is required and was not provided. The Applicant will have a declaration of such and the Respondents, as well, shall pay costs in the amount of $500.00, including disbursements.

R v Blackplume, 2021 ABCA 2

Appeal allowed and an indeterminate sentence is imposed. The sentencing judge erred in law. It was not open to her to exempt an Indigenous transgendered offender from the operation of the dangerous offender provisions of the Criminal Code.

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In this matter, the Crown appeals the determinate sentence imposed on the respondent, a transgendered person from the Blood Tribe, born Josiah Jerome Blackplume and now known as Lucy Blackplume. Ms. Blackplume was 29 years of age at the time of sentencing and most likely suffers from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. She cannot understand the impact of her decisions, exercise self-control, or filter impulses. This cognitive deficit will be lifelong, and she requires a high level of in-the-moment support. She displays features of antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and psychopathy. Ms. Blackplume’s childhood was traumatic and dysfunctional and she virtually has no work experience.

At the dangerous offender hearing, Ms. Blackplume pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm. Other convictions include attempted sexual assault with a weapon, sexual assault, fraud over $5,000, and assault causing bodily harm. As a result of her convictions, Ms Blackplume has spent almost 12 years in institutions with notable periods in segregation, isolation or observation because of anxiety, depressed mood or suicidal ideation, gestures, threats or attempts, and because she has been assaultive or sexually inappropriate with other inmates, or found trafficking her own stockpiled medications.

Ms Blackplume met the criteria for a dangerous offender and for an indeterminate sentence. The sentencing judge acknowledged that an indeterminate sentence would have been imposed, but for her finding that in Ms Blackplume’s circumstances such a sentence would constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of her s 12 Charter right (R v Boutilier, 2017 SCC 64 [“Boutilier”]). The sentencing judge also reviewed Gladue factors. In her view, correctional institutions have failed to develop humane secure housing and treatment for Indigenous and mentally ill offenders (R v CPS, 2006 SKCA 78). The sentencing judge endorsed the perspective that offenders such as Ms Blackplume are more appropriately treated from a mental health rather than correctional perspective (Ewert v Canada, 2018 SCC 30). Based on these factors, the sentencing judge concluded that an indeterminate sentence would amount to a life sentence for Ms Blackplume.

Under sections 753(4) and (4.1), a court sentencing a dangerous offender shall impose a sentence of detention in a penitentiary for an indeterminate period unless it is satisfied that there is a reasonable expectation that a lesser measure will adequately protect the public against the commission by the offender or a serious personal injury offence. Despite the finding that Ms. Blackplume is a dangerous offender, the sentencing judge imposed a determinate sentence of 10 years for sexual assault with a weapon and six years for assault causing bodily harm to be served concurrently, followed by a 10-year long term supervision order. She did so as a remedy for breach of Ms Blackplume’s right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment as guaranteed by section 12 of the Charter (R v Blackplume, 2019 ABPC 273 [“Blackplume“]).

In Boutilier, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the prospect of indeterminate detention, as provided for by section 753(4.1), does not lead to a grossly disproportionate sentence contrary to section 12 of the Charter. It is part of a broad scheme for imposing a fit sentence. The subsection applies to a narrow group of offenders who are dangerous per se. For those who cannot be controlled in the community in a manner that adequately protects the public from murder or a serious personal injury offence, a sentence of indeterminate detention is to be imposed. The effect of the sentencing judge’s decision was to grant Ms Blackplume a constitutional exemption from the operation of section 753(4.1).

The facts of this case do not present meaningfully “different circumstances” or “different reasonable applications” than those considered in Boutilier and preceding cases. Beyond Ms Blackplume’s circumstances, the sentencing judge explained that she reduced the sentence as an incentive to the Correctional Service of Canada to develop “humane housing and treatment” and “humane secure facilities” (Blackplume). This rationale does not relate to proportionality or any other sentencing objective and was therefore an irrelevant factor. The sentencing judge erred in relying on it.

An appellate court may sentence afresh where an error in principle, the failure to consider a relevant factor or the erroneous consideration of an aggravating or mitigating factor had an impact on the sentence (R v Lacasse, 2015 SCC 64). The sentencing judge erred in law in finding a Charter breach and in using that finding to reduce the sentence and in relying on an irrelevant objective. This Court therefore must sentence afresh. Ms Blackplume’s characteristics do not outweigh the statutory interest in public protection. An offender’s moral culpability, the seriousness of the offence, mitigating factors, and principles developed for Indigenous offenders are considerations relevant to deciding whether or not a lesser sentence would sufficiently protect the public. Therefore an indeterminate sentence must be imposed.

R v Kandhai, 2020 ONSC 3580

The Court sentenced a Black offender to 49 total months for possession of a prohibited firearm with accessible ammunition and for breach of a firearms prohibition order. The Court took into account a detailed history report which considered his life circumstances including growing up in poverty and experiencing anti-Black racism from a young age. The Supreme Court of Canada’s invaluable guidance in this area, albeit in the context of Aboriginal offenders, informed the sentence.

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Mr. Jeremy Kandhai has a long criminal record for a 25-year-old man. The first circumstance identified in a pre-sentence report was that Mr. Kandhai grew up in low income, subsidized housing. The second circumstance was that anti-Black harassment and constant police presence continued throughout his childhood. The report further suggested that he was engaging, self-aware and took accountability for his actions. The principle argument for a reduction of the sentence normally imposed for these crimes is premised on Mr. Kandhai having a lower degree of responsibility as a result of the poverty, discrimination and anti-Black racism he has endured over his lifetime.

The Court relied on systemic factors and rehabilitation as key importance. The sum total of influences upon an individual, including poverty and racial bias, has helped form the person who committed the crime (R v Gabriel, 2017 NSSC 90). Aboriginal offenders are specifically mentioned in Section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code, the provision commanding that incarceration must be used with restraint. The Court nonetheless confirmed that at its root, like Aboriginal discrimination, anti-Black racism and poverty is first and foremost a societal problem.

The question of the impact of past discrimination and disadvantage ought to be viewed as a matter of context, not one requiring proof of direct causation. He was not compelled to make the choice he did, but his alternatives were circumscribed by his environment and the dearth of opportunities that were open to him. Mr. Kandhai’s moral responsibility ought to be weighed in light of the gravity of the offence.

However, the potential for human carnage represented by a loaded handgun is extreme. His fear of being victimized together with the violent deaths of people around him were a factor in arming himself. It is well established that denunciation and deterrence are the paramount sentencing principles for these offences (R v Graham, 2018 ONSC 6817). Mr. Kandhai understood that it was not necessary to arm himself with a loaded handgun and that it was a poor choice. The prospect of the offender being rehabilitated is better than his offence or his criminal record would indicate. The Court sentenced Mr. Kandhai to 49 months total which includes all credit due. 38 months was attributed to the firearms offence and 11 consecutive months was contributed for the firearms prohibition breach.

R c Adams, 2020 QCCQ 9127

An 11 month consecutive sentence is reasonable for an Indigenous accused, who is serving a sentence for unrelated offences. He shall, for the next 2 years, respect conditions in a probation order, and is prohibited from operating any motor vehicle in Canada for a period of 5 years.

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The accused, Mr. Adams, is a 36 years old Indigenous male registered as a member of the Mohawks of Akwesasne. In 2011, he was spotted by police operating a motor vehicle while disqualified, but decided to flee the police officers. He pleaded guilty to charges of flight from police, of driving while disqualified and of breaching a valid recognizance binding him not to drive any motor vehicle. Subsequently in the same year, the accused stole his grandmother’s vehicle and was later involved in an accident. He pleaded guilty to charges of vehicle theft, driving while disqualified, and one count of breaching his recognizance by operating a motor vehicle while he was bound not to.

In 2019, the accused was spotted operating a boat full of bags containing tobacco. The accused was enroute to offload the cargo, but the RCMP marine patrol blocked him, whereby the accused rammed the RCMP vessel, capsizing his own boat. He pleaded guilty to charges of possession of unstamped tobacco and obstructing police officers. The last event happened in 2020. Police observed and tried to intercept two snowmobiles with sleds they thought were transporting illegal tobacco. One of the snowmobiles rammed the police while the other, operated by the accused, got away. The accused was charged and pleaded guilty to the possession of this unstamped tobacco, as well as to charges of breaching his recognizance for not showing up in Court, and for possessing illegal tobacco while it was prohibited by the recognizance. The accused is charged by both the provincial and federal Crown. The provincial crown is prosecuting for the 2011 events, while the federal crown is prosecuting for the 2019 and 2020 events.

Further investigation revealed he did not spent the 8 year period avoiding the law while staying out of trouble. He was in fact detained in the United States for an offence of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances committed in 2012. In coming to Canada and in committing the 2019 and 2020 crimes, he breached his supervision order.

According to the Gladue report issued, as a child Mr. Adams experienced different forms of abuse and neglect, abandonment, lower level of education, and the normalizing of substance abuse and smuggling. He also endured separate traumatic events that included the death of his father and a very close uncle. As an adult, he has been living in a hopeless state of mind, dealing with a dependence on alcohol and drugs and is currently incarcerated. Mr. Adams has two children he has not been present to see grow up, because of time spent in jail since their birth. The only mitigating factor for Mr. Adams, however, seems to be the plea of guilt. The quantities seized in each file of unstamped tobacco is important (1274 kg in the 1st file, and 773 kg in the second file). Both these crimes were committed recently, after being released from the United States.

Considering the priors convictions, the gravity of these offences, the need for deterrence, the passage of time, the Court finds a lower sentence would be unreasonable, given the accused is not to this day rehabilitated, as can be seen from the facts in the smuggling files. Because the 2011 events have nothing to do with the 2019-2020 events, these sentences need to be served consecutively. The 11 month sentence should be served consecutively to the sentence being currently served.

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