The Need for Independent Review Commission for Wrongful Convictions in Canada

November 18, 2020 | Latest News

Author: Nicole Porter, N.A. PORTER & ASSOCIATES

Innocence Canada co-chair, Ron Dalton knows all too well the impact of going to prison for a crime you didn’t commit.

He was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife and would spend approximately eight years behind bars before finally being cleared after a second trial.

Dalton, who is the co-chair of the non-profit organization Innocence Canada, says “he’s angry at the federal government’s slow pace in creating an independent commission to review wrongful conviction cases.”

Lametti’s mandate letter can also be found here:

There has been a directive from Trudeau to “establish an independent criminal case review commission to make it easier and faster for potentially wrongfully convicted people to have their applications reviewed.” At the moment, if a case has exhausted all other appeals, our justice minister is the only person who essentially has the power to review a case and send it back to the courts.

Innocence Canada and several other advocates have pointed out the process can be extremely lengthy. They agree on what’s really needed – a commission that is independent of the Justice Department and made up of people including former judges and civilians.

Lametti has reiterated that wrongful convictions “are a matter of deep concern to me.” When prompted, Lametti holds that he continues to review all cases that arrive on his desk in a thorough and expeditious manner. ”

Currently, Innocence Canada is among the only organizations nationwide that takes on claims of wrongful convictions and builds cases to present to the Justice Department for review. Dalton said because of limited resources, his organization can typically only take on homicide cases.

Innocence Canada’s most notable cases include David Milgaard, who spent 23 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murdering nurse Gail Miller. Robert Baltovich also makes the list, who was wrongfully convicted of murdering his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain.

Wrongful convictions have again been in the spotlight after Toronto police said last month they believe Calvin Hoover, who died in 2015, was responsible for killing 9-year-old Christine Jessop in 1984. In one of Canada’s most infamous cases of a wrongfully accused person, Guy Paul Morin was convicted of her murder and later exonerated.

Unfortunately, the Milgaard and Morin case are not isolated events in Canadian history. An independent commission could have investigative powers to do the kind of work this volunteer organization does, but with resources to review a wider variety of wrongful conviction claims. Many academics, attorneys and policy makers agree – wrongful convictions are happening frequently enough that an organization needs to be created to ensure cases are identified and corrected as soon as possible.

To learn more about Innocence Canada, to volunteer or to see how you can help, please visit the following website:

https://www.innocencecanada.com/

Resources

www.justice.gc.ca

www.lawtimesnews.com

www.nationalpost.ca

www.cbc.ca

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/browse/people/politics-law/

To download “The Need for a Criminal Cases Review Commission in Canada for the
Wrongly Convicted”, submitted to Prime Minister Trudeau, click here: