Charles Huband

  • Judges best able to decide sentences

    The Criminal Code of Canada is filled with provisions that limit the discretion of trial judges in the imposition of sentences. For example, the penalty for first-degree murder is life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole for 25 years. That is the minimum sentence, but it is also the maximum sentence. On the other hand, the maximum penalty for manslaughter is life imprisonment, but there is no minimum. Therefore, the trial judge has complete discretion in imposing a fit sentence for manslaughter. The Conservative government of Steven Harper embarked on a concerted campaign to increase the sentences for a wide range of crimes. Some members of the public applauded the "get tough on crime" initiative, while others were and are of the view mandatory minimum sentences are both regressive and costly. I think it can be fairly said a majority of members of the judiciary are of the latter opinion -- feeling they are better able to fashion an appropriate sentence, taking into account the gravity of the offence and the circumstances of the accused.
  • Resist the money grab by MMF

    The Manitoba Metis Federation enjoyed a significant decision of the Supreme Court of Canada a few months ago. By a controversial majority decision, the court provided the MMF with a declaration that "the transfer of lands to Métis children was not carried out with diligence as required by the honour of the Crown." A word of explanation: The legal action by the MMF was begun in 1985, but did not proceed to trial in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench until a few years ago. The Métis claim was dismissed. An appeal to the Manitoba Court of Appeal was unanimously dismissed by a five-judge panel. The case proceeded on to the Supreme Court of Canada where a majority decision of six judges allowed the Métis claim, by raising an issue that had not even been argued before the Supreme Court by the MMF. Two Supreme Court judges issued a strong dissenting opinion.
  • PTE an institution in best meaning of the word

    Prairie Theatre Exchange has become an institution in Winnipeg. It did not start out that way 40 years ago. But it has happened almost despite itself. By describing PTE as an institution, I do not mean it has become ossified or detached from society. Quite the opposite. I mean it has become an organization which brings its own unique contribution to the educational, cultural and artistic life of our city.
  • The Bay is key to downtown renewal

    If Winnipeg is to become a great North American city, it will require more than a recreation area with a focus on the MTS Centre, and more than a Canadian Museum for Human Rights (with or without an adjacent water park.) The missing ingredient is a viable downtown shopping district.
  • Liberals must commit to protect vulnerable

    It would seem that the Liberal Party of Canada had a very successful gathering in Ottawa a few weeks ago. There was lots of enthusiasm. The convention attracted a large slate of delegates, including a good number of youthful members. Delegates were pleased with the way Bob Rae has handled his responsibilities as interim leader. Party finances look encouraging. An energetic yet experienced individual was elected as party president, and delegates passed a few resolutions to prove to the world that they are concerned with policy issues.
  • Unilingualism needs no apology

    Judge Marshall Rothstein was not fluent in the French language when he was appointed as a judge on the Supreme Court of Canada. At the parliamentary committee hearing preceding his appointment, he expressed his willingness to become more proficient in the French language, and in furtherance of that undertaking, he has been taking lessons to improve his skills in Canada's other official language.
  • Take conditions off conditional sentences

    I do not know who invented the conditional sentence, but whoever it was did a great service to the administration of criminal law in this country. A conditional sentence is actually a sentence of imprisonment but the "imprisonment" can be served in the community. It cannot exceed two years less a day in duration. If the offender breaches its terms, the usual remedy is that they serve the balance of the sentence in jail.
  • Per-vote subsidies bad public policy

    Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has made it clear that the subsidy of $2 per voter for the political parties in federal elections will come to an end. These payments are made on an annual basis, but they will be phased out over the next four years, probably on a diminished basis each year. The Conservative Party itself will be hardest hit, but its finances are in so much better shape than the other parties that the end of this subsidy will help the Tories on a comparative basis. Last year, based on the election results of 2007, the Conservative Party received more than $10 million in the per vote subsidy, the Liberal Party more than $7 million, the NDP $5 million, the Bloc Québécois almost $3 million, and the Green party close to $2 million. That will all change as a result of the 2011 results, which would improve the position of the Conservative Party and the NDP, but drastically reduce the subsidy to the Liberals and the Bloc.
  • "Get tough on crime' stance seems to have been a sham

    Is it possible that the Tory program to "get tough on crime" was, in reality, one enormous sham?

    Now that Parliament has been prorogued we can address that question because, with a new session two months away, all the old bills that did not receive royal assent must be reintroduced, and must begin the legislative process anew. That process can take the better part of a year.

  • Sad disservice, pathetic plea, and nonsense

    Sometimes things hit three at a time. So it was on Monday in Winnipeg. There was news about the Dziekanski inquiry in British Columbia, where a police officer who used a Taser to subdue Robert Dziekanski, testified about the perceived necessity to use the weapon.

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