Thursday, November 23, 2006

Conservatives and "Justice"

[Update 20:50]
Here's the CBC story

Again, we find the Conservatives reversing the onus obligation in the situation. Do these fuckwits have any idea what the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" means?

The Harper government is clearly functionally illiterate when it comes to criminal law.

According to CBC's broadcast news this morning (I'm waiting for the story to appear on the website), they are going to introduce another "reverse onus" legislation in the House of Commons today.

This one is designed to make it harder for someone accused of a gun crime for the second time to get bail. The brief synopsis presented in the news boils down to if you have a previous firearms conviction, you would be required to demonstrate to the courts that you should get bail.

Remember, people, an arrest and charges are not the same thing as a conviction. At the point in time where bail is involved, the person is accused of the crime, not convicted.

Per se, I have little difficulty with making bail harder to get if someone has prior convictions that appear to be similar to the current charges, but as with Bill C-27, the Conservatives are once again attempting to place the onus upon the accused, rather than upon the accuser.

If you want to make it harder to "get bail", by all means, alter the laws to give more weight to prior convictions, or in such a way that prior convictions make it easier for a judge to deny bail (or set it high enough that the accused might have difficulty getting the dollars together). (Both of them easy enough to do, and far less damaging to the principle of innocence before trial)

As soon as we place the burden of proof on an accused, prior to their criminal trial, we are asking them to answer to the charges themselves - at a time when legal counsel probably has not done more than a superficial review of the case on either side. This opens the door to a significant risk that the accused will feel obliged to perjure themselves either at the bail hearing or in trial.

I'm sure Conservative apologists will argue that if the person really is innocent, then they won't have to perjure themselves. However, it's rather like the old joke question "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" - except this time it's "You won't use a gun again, will you?" It presupposes that on accusation, the accused is guilty of the crime.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, as we all know, Mr. Kenney is conservant enough with the differences between the American and Canadian legal system to believe that accusation is the same as conviction, and that the burden of proof is that of innocence, not of guilt.

But then again, what would we know about Canada, given that we went through the same educational system as our esteemed MP.