Crowdfunding the Constitution

May 20, 2015

In March 2012, the Harper government’s massive crime bill, Bill C-10, became law. This bill severely limited the availability of house arrest, imposed mandatory minimum sentences, required harsher treatment of young offenders, and increased the waiting periods for pardons.

Bill C-10 follows the same Conservative “tough on crime” approach that many Canadian court have disapproved of.The Canadian Civil Liberties AssociationJohn Howard Society, the Canadian Bar Association, and many others opposed bill C-10, but Harper and his government pressed on, rushing to make the Bill law. Our Supreme Court has already struck down several Conservative government laws on mandatory minimum sentences  , retroactive parole limits, and limits on credit given for time spent in pre-trial custody. But these rulings did not stop Harper’s government from continuing to bring more rights-violating criminal laws into place.

One of my clients was impacted by the retroactive pardon changes in bill C-10. Just before he was eligible under the old rules to apply for a pardon, he was told that he would have to wait another five years.

In 2008 client plead guilty to a drug offence, accepted responsibility and turned his life around.  He did everything he should have done – everything society says he should have done but just when he was able to apply for a pardon the government changed the rules.

My client and may other like him counted on their ability to apply for a pardon – this is part of the reason why many accused chose to plead guilty in the first place. But the Conservatives changed the deal and retroactively doubled the waiting period for a pardon from 5 years to 10 years. And they subjected many individuals who completed their sentence already, to this brand new increase in punishment. This is why Harper’s law must be challenged.  It is unfair to change the rules after a sentence has been served.  The Supreme Court has already ruled that it violates our Constitutional rights to impose a retroactive punishment.

My firm, Abergel Goldstein & Partners is assisting my client in his plan to challenge the retroactive pardon eligibility changes in Bill C-10.

Here is the slightly novel part.  M.C. is crowdfunding to help cover the cost of the litigation.

We plan on doing much of the work pro bono but nonetheless challenging the constitutionality of a law can be expensive and litigation of this type can take years.  

This is why my client is seeking to raise $20,000 – to help pay for two of our lawyers, to collect expert evidence, and to demand fairness and hold the Conservative government to account.

More details are available on the crowd funding page we have set up to assist our client:

You can read more about the story at the Globe and Mail:

We also chatted with CBC Ottawa Morning:

Often unconstitutional law affect those who are leasable to fight them – maybe you can help.