Saturday, July 22, 2006

SCC gives Mafia carte blance

The Supreme Court of Canada has thrown a huge wrench into one of the government's most power tools, that of extradition; in considering four cases -- three from the United States and one from Mexico . While upholding 8-0 the current rules for kicking someone out of Canada to face trial elsewhere (which were enacted seven years ago and which repealed a previous law which dated back to Victorian times) Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin also added a new twist; that someone may only be expelled if that person could face trial in Canada under this country's rules of evidence; not that of the country that wants the suspect back.

On the one hand, that may not be such a bad thing -- for example, there is no criminal provision regarding blasphemy in Canada; although there is in many other countries, including even England. It may also help women fleeing prosecution from some countries where it's a crime just to be a woman who wants to be free.

But how far could it lead? Does that mean that if someone repeatedly abuses the US Do Not Call list then flees to Canada to flee prosecution, we can't send them back because we only have a voluntary system? Or if someone is facing indictment elsewhere for corporate fraud even if the evidence -- as strong as it is -- is merely hearsay, they get to stay too?

The biggest impact could be on organized crime. While there is no statute of limitations on murder, there is on racketeering and the time limit is much shorter in Canada than it is in the States, potentially giving some Mafia bosses in the US safe haven in Canada. Even progressives need to say this is simply not acceptable. This is one area where I think sentences and forfeitures should be more in line with the provisions in the US RICO law; and one of the provisions of the 2001 anti-terrorism statute that should definitely be renewed.

Two of the Musitano brothers are being released later this year after serving 10 years for murder two; and with this ruling we'd all better start looking over our shoulders again once they get out. With all due respect to the Chief Justice, she and her colleagues just gave a free ride to the Musitanos and all the other disgraces to the Canadian landscape.

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