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Crown wants to fight controversial ‘extreme intoxication’ defence ruling


TORONTO — Canada’s highest court will be asked to weigh in on a ruling that reopened the door for people accused of violent crimes to argue they were so intoxicated they had lost control of what they were doing.

The decision angered some women, and in a statement on Saturday a spokeswoman for Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey said the prosecution wanted the top court to hear a challenge to it.

“I can confirm that the Crown will be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Jenessa Crognali. “It would be inappropriate to comment further as the matters are before the court.”

Crognali said the notice of leave to appeal had yet to be filed.

I can confirm that the Crown will be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada

In overturning the convictions of two men in separate cases, the Court of Appeal on Wednesday struck down a decades-old section of the Criminal Code as unconstitutional.

The men, Thomas Chan and David Sullivan, had either killed or injured close relatives. Both were high on drugs — one had eaten magic mushrooms, the other had tried to kill himself with an overdose of a prescription stop-smoking medication.

Evidence was that both became psychotic and went on a violent rampage. Their defence, however, ran afoul of the ban on arguing self-induced extreme intoxication had resulted in their “automatism.”

The federal government had enacted the law in 1995 amid a backlash over a court ruling that recognized drunkenness could be raised to defend against a sexual assault charge.

“(The law) enables the conviction of individuals for acts they do not will,” the Appeal Court said in striking down Section 33.1.

While such cases are rare and successfully raising an intoxication defence would be difficult, critics argued it had undermined a measure aimed at protecting women from sexual violence.

“We are dismayed that women’s rights to equality and dignity are not given more adequate treatment,” the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund said of the ruling. “It also risks sending a dangerous message that men can avoid accountability for their acts of violence against women and children through intoxication.”

Both federal and Ontario New Democrats had urged an appeal.

I can confirm that the Crown will be seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada

However, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said concerns the court had reopened floodgates for men accused of violence to argue intoxication were unwarranted.

For one thing, an accused would still have the difficult task of proving they were in a state of automatism to raise the extreme intoxication defence successfully. Simply claiming to have been drunk wouldn’t cut it.

Cara Zwibel, a director with the liberties association, said the ruling had not undermined the rights of victims.

“This is a rarely used provision,” Zwibel said. “It’s not this widespread, systemic concern.”

Neither the association nor the legal fund, both interveners in the case, had any immediate comment on the proposed appeal on Saturday.





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Brandon Judd: Border wall critics are ‘absolutely incorrect,’ calls court ruling ‘a great win’


Critics of President Trump’s border wall are “absolutely incorrect” and a drop in illegal immigration and drug smuggling proves it, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said Saturday.

Judd, appearing on “Fox & Friends,” said the administration has developed a system that allows authorities to have better control of the border, preventing illegal crossings.

“Al of this new wall that we’re building is a huge deterrent and, frankly, it stops illegal drugs and criminal aliens from coming into the country,” he said.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MARKS 100 MILES OF BORDER WALL, VOWS ‘MANY MORE’ TO COME

The administration Friday marked the 100th mile of wall construction along the southern border, describing it as a “milestone achievement.”

Building a border wall was a major Trump campaign promise in 2016. He is now pledging to build 450 miles of new wall by the end of this year.

Those efforts were boosted Wednesday by a decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which allows the administration to use $3.6 billion in military funds for border wall construction.

The court reversed a lower court order that had stopped Trump, who declared a national emergency along the southern border in February 2019, from diverting the Defense Department money.  Opponents argued that pulling money that was approved by Congress to pay for the border wall is an abuse of power.

“Breaking News: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just reversed a lower court decision & gave us the go ahead to build one of the largest sections of the desperately needed Southern Border Wall, Four Billion Dollars,” the president tweeted Thursday. “Entire Wall is under construction or getting ready to start!”

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“It’s a great win.” Judd said Saturday. “But, what’s interesting is we knew this was going to happen. We know that the lower courts are full of judicial activism. We know that the lower courts are constantly trying to stymie President Trump and all of his directives.”

Judd said that since border wall construction began illegal immigration and drug smuggling has declined. He challenged critics to go down to the border and see the progress for themselves.

“President Trump refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer,” he said. “He continues to push forward with his agenda.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.



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UK wing of Bangladesh’s ruling party appear to be campaigning for Labour candidate – Channel 4 News


Should a British parliamentary candidate receive campaign support from an organisation linked to an oppressive foreign government?

Questions are being asked about an operation to support  Labour’s candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn in north London. Tulip Siddiq is the niece of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, whose government is accused of serious human rights violations.

Channel 4 News has seen evidence that the UK wing of Bangladesh’s ruling party has been running a campaign to support Tulip Siddiq’s re-election.

Ms Siddiq claims this is “categorically untrue”. Fatima Manji reports



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Court rejects federal government’s bid to put Indigenous child welfare ruling on hold


OTTAWA — The Federal Court has rejected a request from Ottawa to press pause on a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling ordering compensation for First Nations children who were unnecessarily removed from their families and communities due to underfunding of the on-reserve child welfare system.

The decision means the federal government will have to submit a plan to the tribunal by Jan. 29, 2020 detailing how compensation could be paid out. However, Ottawa will continue to fight the tribunal’s ruling in court, arguing there are flaws in its decision.

The government maintains it does want to compensate First Nations children who suffered due to underfunding of child and family services. On Monday, federal ministers announced Ottawa is looking to negotiate compensation through a separate class-action lawsuit that would cover a larger number of people than the tribunal ruling.

“Nothing changes our strong belief that we must compensate First Nations children harmed by past government policies,” Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller’s office told the National Post in a statement on Friday. “We will continue to seek a solution that will provide comprehensive, fair and equitable compensation for First Nations children in care.”

The case concerns a human rights complaint initially filed in 2007 by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations. In September, the tribunal found the government wilfully and recklessly discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding child and family services on reserve and in the Yukon, which created an incentive to remove Indigenous children from their homes and communities. It found each child who was unnecessarily taken into care starting on Jan. 1, 2006 is entitled to $40,000 in compensation.

It also ruled the government should pay compensation to parents and grandparents and to Indigenous children who were denied essential services covered under Jordan’s principle, which states that the needs of First Nations children should take precedence over jurisdictional disputes about who should pay for them.

The government filed a legal challenge of the decision in October, and also asked the Federal Court to stay the ruling pending the outcome of that judicial review.

We will continue to seek a solution that will provide comprehensive, fair and equitable compensation

A hearing on the motion to stay was held in Ottawa earlier this week. On Friday, Federal Court Justice Paul Favel denied Ottawa’s request to put the process on hold, finding there would be no harm in the government discussing a compensation plan with the other parties. He pointed out that Canada doesn’t yet have to pay out compensation — it just has to make a plan.

“I’m pleased with it, because it allows the tribunal to continue with its work on the compensation process, so that’s the most important thing,” said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the Caring Society, in an interview.

She said the decision brings First Nations children one step closer to receiving compensation, but added that Canada continues to throw up roadblocks. “Are they going to stop fighting and do the right thing for kids, or are they going to continue to fight?” she said. “In which case, we will meet them in every courtroom.”

The tribunal originally ordered the parties to submit a compensation plan by Dec. 10, but this week pushed that deadline back to Jan. 29. In a letter on Wednesday, the tribunal wrote that the approaching deadline and Canada’s refusal to enter into discussions left it feeling “cornered.” There is no set date when Ottawa would have to start paying compensation.


Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

Codie McLachlan/Postmedia/File

During the hearing on Monday, a Justice Department lawyer argued the tribunal’s decision was flawed in part because it ordered the government to pay each child the same amount — the maximum $40,000 in compensation the tribunal is allowed to award. Robert Frater argued the decision took a “one-size-fits-all” approach that didn’t make distinctions “based on harms actually experienced.” He estimated the ruling would require payment of at least $5 or $6 billion.

Frater also argued the decision forces Canada to “take a piecemeal approach to settling,” because the ruling only affects Indigenous people who were involved in the child welfare system since 2006.

In contrast, the class-action lawsuit the government wants to settle covers children affected by the underfunding of child and family services dating back to 1991, but not their parents.

However, the Caring Society argues the children covered by the tribunal ruling shouldn’t have to wait longer simply because others also suffered. “If we wait for perfection, we’ll be back here again and again and again and again, and we’ll never have a solution,” said Barbara McIsaac, a lawyer for the Caring Society, during Monday’s hearing.

The Caring Society had sought to have the judicial review put on hold until the tribunal has issued another order with details about the compensation process. But Favel denied that motion as well, meaning both the tribunal process and the legal challenge seeking to have it overturned will proceed simultaneously.

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