On Wednesday, October 21, 2015, Chief Justice Hinkson of the British Columbia Supreme Court gave effect to the arguments of an association called Drug War Survivors (“DWS”) that the City of Abbotsford’s bylaws that forbade sleeping in the City’s parks or the temporary erection of shelters without permits to be contrary to s. 7’s protection of security of the person under the Charter and were therefore of no force or effect. In an 81 page reasons for judgment in Abbotsford (City) v. Shantz, 2015 BCSC 1909 that reviewed the evolving jurisprudence under s. 7 of the Charter and specifically previous British Columbian decisions respecting a similar challenge of the City of Victoria’s bylaws, Chief Justice Hinkson made it clear that, while there was not a positive obligation on the part of the municipality to provide shelter to its homeless population, so long as there was insufficient shelter available, the municipality could not prohibit the homeless from doing what they needed to do in order to ensure their own life, liberty and security of their persons.
Image via Sydney Morning Herald
In an early Christmas gift to those of us who love constitutional law, the Supreme Court of Canada delivered its landmark ruling in Attorney General (Canada) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72 on Friday, December 20, 2013. While so many commentators refer to rulings of the Supreme Court as landmark, this one truly is a “landmark decision”. The unanimous judgment authored by Chief Justice McLachlin delivers clarification on a number of important issues and, of course, determines that the provisions of the Criminal Code prohibiting the use of bawdyhouses, living on the avails of prostitution and communication in a public place for purposes of prostitution are contrary to s. 7 of the Charter and cannot be justified by s. 1.