Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Excusing killers for self-defence is now more political than judicial

The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision regarding Nicole Ryan – the Nova Scotia woman who tried to hire a hit man to kill her husband – has attracted considerable attention. This is, in part, because of the dramatic nature of the facts and, in part, because it highlights the troubling legal position of women who try to escape abusive relationships. But the Ryan case also underscores the delicate relationship between the courts and Parliament in the development of the criminal law. The McLachlin Court’s deferential attitude to Parliament, long apparent in its constitutional law decisions, is now just as plain in its approach to criminal law.

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