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Article

Hébert Case

In the Hébert case (1990), the Supreme Court of Canada spoke directly on the right to silence. Hébert was accused of grand larceny. Advised of his right to counsel, he was imprisoned after the consultation.

Article

Cod Moratorium of 1992

On 2 July 1992, the federal government banned cod fishing along Canada’s east coast. This moratorium ended nearly five centuries of cod fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador. Cod had played a central role in the province’s economy and culture.

The aim of the policy was to help restore cod stocks that had been depleted due to overfishing. Today, the cod population remains too low to support a full-scale fishery. For this reason, the ban is still largely in place.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

Article

Sparrow Case

R. v. Sparrow (1990) was the first Supreme Court of Canada case to test section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Initially convicted of fishing illegally, Musqueam man Ronald Edward Sparrow was cleared by the Supreme Court and his ancestral right to fishing was upheld.

Article

Van der Peet Case

In the R. v. Van der Peet case (1996), the Supreme Court of Canada defined and restricted what constitutes Indigenous rights, as previously defined by the R. v. Sparrow case (1990). Criticized for narrowing the scope of Indigenous rights, the Van der Peet test — a set of criteria established by the court to prove Indigenous rights — stipulates that the Indigenous custom, practice or tradition in question must be integral to the distinctive culture of the Aboriginal group claiming the right and originate from before contact with the Europeans.

Article

Sustainability in Canada

Sustainability is the ability of the biosphere, or of a certain resource or practice, to persist in a state of balance over the long term. The concept of sustainability also includes things humans can do to preserve such a balance. Sustainable development, for instance, pairs such actions with growth. It aims to meet the needs of the present while ensuring that future people will be able to meet their needs.

Article

Guy Paul Morin Case

The Guy Paul Morin case was the second major wrongful conviction case to occur in the modern era of the Canadian criminal justice system. The case was riddled with official errors — from inaccurate eyewitness testimony and police tunnel vision, to scientific bungling and the suppression of evidence. Morin had been acquitted of the murder of nine-year-old Christine Jessop in 1986, only to be found guilty at a retrial in 1992. He was cleared by DNA evidence in 1995 and received $1.25 million in compensation. In 2020, DNA evidence identified Calvin Hoover, a Jessop family friend who died in 2015, as the real killer.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Article

Roncarelli v Duplessis

 In 1946, Maurice DUPLESSIS, then premier and attorney general of Qué, caused the Liquor Commission chairman to revoke the liquor licence of Frank Roncarelli, a Montréal restaurant owner, so ruining the restaurant.

Macleans

Air India Trial Ends in Acquittal

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on March 28, 2005. Partner content is not updated.

"IN THE EARLY morning hours of June 23, 1985, two bomb-laden suitcases detonated half a world apart," began B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ian Bruce Josephson, reading a verdict that set two men free and left hundreds more shackled to a 20-year-old tragedy that now seems beyond hope of resolution.

Article

Assisted Suicide in Canada: The Rodriguez Case (1993)

In the early 1990s, Sue Rodriguez submitted to the courts that section 241(b) of the Criminal Code, which prohibited assisted suicide, was constitutionally invalid. (See also Assisted Suicide in Canada.) Rodriguez suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and wanted the legal right to have a physician’s help in ending her own life. On 30 September 1993, a 5–4 majority of the Supreme Court of Canada upheld section 241(b), declaring that it was constitutional and did not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Nonetheless, Rodriguez committed suicide in February 1994, assisted by an anonymous doctor and in the presence of NDP MP Svend Robinson, who had championed her cause. In 2015, the Supreme Court decided unanimously to strike down the prohibition and allow medically assisted suicide, which was officially legalized with the passing of the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Act on 17 June 2016. In March 2021, new legislation was passed that expanded eligibility for MAID.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Article

Singh Case

In the 1985 Singh case (Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration), the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the legal guarantees of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms apply to “everyone” physically present in Canada, including foreign asylum seekers. The court also found that refugees have the right to a full oral hearing of their claims before being either admitted into the country or deported. The decision drastically changed the way refugees are dealt with in Canada. (See also Canadian Refugee Policy.)

Article

Everett Klippert Case

Everett George Klippert was the only Canadian ever declared a dangerous sexual offender and sentenced to what amounted to life in prison, for no other reason than he was a gay man. Outrage over that sentence, which was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1967, led to the decriminalization of gay sex two years later. Klippert was released from prison in 1971. In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated he would recommend a pardon for Klippert. The following year, the Trudeau government formally apologized and issued a compensation package to men who were charged, convicted and punished simply because they were gay.

Article

Keegstra Case

Jim Keegstra was a secondary school teacher in rural Alberta who taught anti-Semitic propaganda to his students. He was charged with a hate crime in 1984 and was found guilty in 1985. However, Keegstra launched repeated appeals arguing that the Criminal Code violated his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression. The landmark case (R. v. Keegstra) tested the balance between the right to freedom of speech outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the law’s limits on hate speech stipulated in the Criminal Code. The case came before the Supreme Court of Canada in 1990 and 1996. The Court ultimately ruled against Keegstra by deciding that Canada’s hate laws imposed a “reasonable limit” on a person’s freedom of expression.

Article

Gladue Case

The Gladue case (also known as R. v. Gladue) is a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision, handed down on 23 April 1999, which advises that lower courts should consider an Indigenous offender’s background and make sentencing decisions accordingly, based on section 718.2 (e) of the Criminal Code.

Article

Omar Khadr Case

Omar Khadr is a Toronto-born Canadian, captured by American soldiers after a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15 years old. The only minor since the Second World War to be convicted of purported war crimes, Khadr was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay and Canada for almost 13 years in total. In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Khadr’s detainment violated “the principles of fundamental justice” and “the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of youth suspects.” Despite repeated attempts by the Canadian government to keep him in prison, Khadr was released on bail in May 2015. In July 2017, he received $10.5 million in compensation from the government for Canada’s role in violating his constitutional rights. In March 2019, an Alberta judge declared that Khadr had completed his war crimes sentence, making him a free man.

Article

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada

Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada (MMIWG) refers to a human rights crisis that has only recently become a topic of discussion within national media. Indigenous women and communities, women’s groups and international organizations have long called for action into the high and disproportionate rates of violence and the appalling numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Prior to the launch of the national public inquiry on 8 December 2015, these calls were continually ignored by the federal government. Described by some as a hidden crisis, Dawn Lavell-Harvard, former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, refers to MMIWG as a national tragedy and a national shame. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada supported the call for a national public inquiry into the disproportionate victimization of Indigenous women and girls. The National Inquiry’s Final Report was completed and presented to the public on 3 June 2019.

Article

Dennis Oland Case

On 19 December 2015, Dennis Oland was convicted of second-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of his father, Richard (Dick) Oland. A year later the conviction was overturned on appeal, and a new trial ordered. The initial, 65-day trial was the longest in New Brunswick history. It also drew national attention due to its brutal nature and revelations about the storied Oland family, founders of the Moosehead brewing empire. In 2019, Dennis Oland was found not guilty of the murder in his retrial.

Article

Robert Latimer Case

In 1993, Saskatchewan farmer Robert Latimer killed his severely disabled daughter Tracy. His prosecution for murder attracted national and international attention, and raised contentious issues concerning euthanasia.

Article

Maher Arar Case

Maher Arar is a Syrian-born Canadian. In 2002 he was sent by the United States to Syria as an accused terrorist, based on faulty information supplied to US agents by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Arar was tortured in Syria before being released and returned to Canada. The federal government paid him $10.5 million in compensation for the wrongs done to him.

Article

Robert Pickton Case

Between 1978 and 2001, at least 65 women disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Robert Pickton, who operated a pig farm in nearby Port Coquitlam, was charged with murdering 26 of the women. He was convicted on six charges and sentenced to life in prison. In a jail cell conversation with an undercover police officer, Pickton claimed to have murdered 49 women. The murders led to the largest serial killer investigation in Canadian history, and Pickton’s farm became the largest crime scene in Canadian history. The case became a flash point in the wider issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. In 2012, a provincial government inquiry into the case concluded that “blatant failures” by police — including inept criminal investigative work, compounded by police and societal prejudice against sex trade workers and Indigenous women ­— led to a “tragedy of epic proportions.”

Warning: This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.