Supreme Court rejects appeal of Conservative crime sentencing law


OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the appeal of a convicted thief who tried to use the Conservative government’s Truth in Sentencing Act to reduce his jail sentence.

It’s the first time the Supreme Court has ruled on the government’s controversial tough-on-crime bill, but the case likely won’t be precedent-setting.

The high court was confined to a narrow issue surrounding how the law should be retroactively applied to offences committed before it came into force.

In a rare ruling from the bench today, the court dismissed the appeal of a petty criminal from Toronto who argued that he deserved greater credit for pre-trial custody.

Calvin Clarke unsuccessfully argued that even though he was formally charged after the act came into force, he deserved credit because he actually committed the offences prior to that.

The Supreme Court issued a short, verbal ruling from the bench — a rare occurrence — and said reasons would follow in the coming days.

On Feb. 20, 2010, two days before the act came into force, Clarke and an accomplice broke into a Toronto apartment because they wanted to steal a flat-screen TV.

They came across 40 to 50 prohibited firearms, so they stole those too.

Two days later, police arrested the accomplice, and he confessed and implicated Clarke.

Clarke was arrested and formally charged three weeks after the act had been on the books.

At his sentencing hearing in January 2011, Clarke argued that he deserved leniency on his sentence, and should be given double the credit for pretrial custody.

The Tories’ act did away with the old practice of giving two-for-one, pre-trial detention credit.

The Ontario Attorney General successfully argued that if the high court accepted that argument it would “manufacture ambiguity where there is none.”

Police managed to recover only 11 of the 40 to 50 stolen firearms.

Filed under:

Supreme Court rejects appeal of Conservative crime sentencing law

  1. Oh, the poor downtrodden criminals.

    If you don’t want to spend more time in gaol, spend less time committing crimes.

    • That or get connected to the right people and become above the law.

      • Doesn’t work for the cases involved here, where crediting pre-trial custody against a gaol sentence is the issue.

        • True in a way. When you’re above the law you never even get charged.

          • Which makes yours an irrelevant rant.

          • In what way exactly? I think you said more than you intended when you said “the poor downtrodden criminals”. The rich or well connected criminals are in no way downtrodden are they? How about a level playing field in our justice system for a change or are you one of those content with the current imbalance and corruption and if so, why? Justice is supposed to be blind but she peeks.

          • In what way exactly? I think you said more truth than you intended to when you said “the poor downtrodden criminals”. As we both know the rich or well connected criminals are not downtrodden at all. All I ask is a level playing field in our justice system but that’s too much for some, isn’t it? What exactly do you fear from a fair and unbiased justice system? The poor pay for their crimes. It’s time everyone else started to pay for theirs too. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. The poor understand and support that. What’s your problem with it?

          • Whatever it might be that you’re on about I’m not sure.

            Perhaps you’re jealous because you think your criminality is more harshly treated than that of some evanescent “other”.

            The bottom line remains, if you don’t like spending time in prison, don’t commit crimes.

        • Then why did you say “criminals” if your just talking about this one guy? Sounds pretty inclusive to me. More of a generalization wouldn’t you agree?

          • Criminals are those convicted of crimes.

            By definition.

Sign in to comment.