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A Defence lawyer's perspective on issues in criminal law
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Calgary, Alberta, and Canada Lose a Great Legal Mind and Defender of Liberty Part 2
August 18, 2015
...and now much of his work seems to be in the process of disappearing.
Click here to start with part 1 of this article.
Would Chief Justice James Herbert Laycraft have approved of the passing of Bill C-51, which gives Canadian authorities far greater latitude when it comes to spying on their own citizens, limiting speech and action that is deemed "disruptive," and arresting and deporting immigrants without necessarily convicting or even accusing them of any crime? Would he approve of RCMP officers who "expect" citizens to comply with unlawful requests, as though the police are in charge of both making and enforcing the rules as they see fit? Would challenges to the automatic penalties Alberta imposes on those simply accused of impaired driving have been struck down if Laycraft were still on the Court?
I won't presume to answer these questions, but I have my own thoughts on the subject, and given his track record I have a feeling that Chief Justice Laycraft and I would agree with each other more often than not. We would agree that a government—including and perhaps especially its Courts and its law enforcement agencies—that fears and mistrusts its people is a government that no longer represents the people, and such a government cannot hope to serve the interests of the people. Such a government only serves itself, and possibly the monied interests that lay behind it, and this can only come at the detriment of everyone else's liberties.It is difficult to separate events; to refrain from making connections that might not truly be there. Laycraft was 91, and many men die at a younger age of completely natural causes. Certainly, if it was his time to go, we cannot begrudge him that. Yet I cannot help but see his death as one more loss to the conservative, and one more light of liberalism and a defence against tyranny being snuffed out. I hope that his memory can serve as a reminder to others in the legal profession about what it is we're fighting for, and why it is so fundamental to our society, but I fear that his story will be buried within a week by the never-ending news cycle.
Though Laycraft is gone, there are still those practicing law who believe in the sanctity of the Charter and the natural inalienable human rights that it protects. I like to count myself among them. If you've been accused of a crime in the Calgary area and would like to speak to a passionate, determined defence lawyer about your case, please don't hesitate to contact my office any time. It's good for all of us to know that we're not alone.
This entry was posted on August 18, 2015
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