Supreme Court of Canada hears challenge to Christopher's Law   

Arooba Shakeel, Marshall Swadron and Joanna Weiss in the Supreme Court of Canada

February 20, 2020 - Ottawa - The Supreme Court of Canada heard oral arguments today in the case of Ontario (Attorney General) v. G, a constitutional challenge to Ontario's Christopher's Law sex offender registry as it is applies to persons found not criminally responsible. A full nine-judge panel of the court was present to hear the Attorney General of Ontario's appeal from the Ontario Court of Appeal's ruling that the law discriminates against persons found not criminally responsible by failing to consider their individual circumstances and by failing to provide a mechanism for removal from the registry when convicted offenders can be removed. After the hearing, the court reserved its decision.

The respondent in the appeal, who was permitted to use the pseudonym "G", was represented in the Supreme Court by Marshall Swadron, Joanna Weiss and Arooba Shakeel of Swadron Associates of Toronto. Also participating in the appeal were lawyers representing the governments of Ontario and Canada and several interveners, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Criminal Lawyers Association, the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights and the Empowerment Council of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Swadron. who argued the case at three levels starting in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice, noted that the entire panel of the court was actively engaged in the issues raised in the appeal. "The case presents an opportunity for the court to recognize that persons found not criminally responsible are as capable of rehabilitation as those who are convicted, if not more so", he said. He also hopes that the case will clarify the law respecting when an individual remedy can be granted to a person who challenges a law that is found to be unconstitutional.

To read the respondent's factum in the appeal, please click here. To view the archived webcast of the Supreme Court hearing, please click here.