The Supreme Court 's Court

1135 Words Sep 9th, 2015 5 Pages
Analysis

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Burns is important because the case involves a critical shift in Canada’s approach to extradition in cases involving capital punishment. In “effectively overruling” the decisions in Kindler and Ng, the Burns verdict now means that almost all extraditions from Canada that do not contain assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed violate the principles of fundamental justice. In that respect, “in all but exceptional cases” any exercise of the Minister’s discretion that purports to grant an unconditional extradition in light of a capital sentence is void under s. 7 of the Charter. This ruling now shifts Canada’s approach to death penalty extradition in line with that of most European states, including France, Italy and The Netherlands.

While the Court’s interpretation of s. 7 was consistent with the approach taken in previous cases, the significance of Burns is likely to be confined to the extradition context. In that respect, the constitutional significance of this case is arguably confined to the Court’s analysis of s. 7 of the Charter as applied to the extradition context. In Burns, as in the 1991 companion cases of Kindler and Ng, the Court was faced with the whether the deprivation of liberty as a result of extradition was in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, as mandated under s. 7 of the Charter. However, unlike in the earlier cases, the Court refused to defer the matter to the Minister’s…

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