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Continuing the Fight Against Ottawa’s Unconstitutional Criminal Victim Surcharge

At AGP we will never stop fighting for a fair and constitutional justice system.

That is why we are suing the Federal and Ontario governments to seek fairness for anyone who was fined under the unconstitutional mandatory victim surcharge law. We want full restitution of all fines paid and cancellation of any outstanding debts.

In 2018 the Supreme Court of Canada held that the Criminal Code’s mandatory victim surcharge was cruel and unusual punishment.

Under the old law, judges had no discretion to waive or decrease the monitory surcharge added to every criminal conviction. Judges had to impose it in every case, regardless of the offence’s severity, its effects on the victims, or the offender’s characteristics. Individual offenders, who already were suffering with issues of poverty, addiction, homelessness, and mental health issues, had the additional burden of hundreds or thousands of dollars of extra fines – fines that most people in the criminal justice system will never be able to pay.

These outstanding fines mean that offenders, even if they have turned their lives around, cannot apply for a pardon, get a drivers licences, and could be denied social support like public housing. The Supreme Court also found that they are often hounded by debt collectors and could even face arrest and imprisonment.

This is why the Supreme Court ruled that the mandatory victim fines were unconstitutional and struck the law down, describing it as abhorrent and intolerable to society.

The fines were a tax on broken souls.

But what about the millions of dollars of fine imposed under the cruel, abhorrent, and unconstitutional law?

The Supreme Court did not cancel the fines that were imposed under the unconstitutional law from 2013 to 2018. These fine and their devastating impacts still remain in place – even though the law that allowed the government to collect them was found to be illegal.

And this is where we step in. We filed application under the rules of civil procedure and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms against the attorneys general of Ontario and Canada seeking fairness for anyone who was fined under the unconstitutional mandatory victim surcharge.

Just because someone can’t afford to pay an unconstitutional fine does not mean that their life should be ruined.

We have spoken out against the victim fines from day one and we are not stopping now.

The case is set for court in Ottawa in September where a date will be set for full legal argument.

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