Ontario judge rules intermittent sentence law unfair to Indigenous accused from remote areas

The Ontario Court of Appeal is seen in Toronto on April 8, 2019. A law that bars a judge from imposing a conditional sentence for certain offences was struck down as unconstitutional on Friday in a decision likely to find its way to the country's top court. In a 2-1 ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal found the provisions of the Criminal Code run afoul of the charter because of their impact on Indigenous offenders. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

TORONTO – An Ontario judge has found the law on intermittent sentences unfair to Indigenous people from isolated communities.

The judge agreed the law discriminates against residents of in Pikangikum, about 225 kilometres north of Kenora, Ontario.

The six mothers involved were convicted of drunk driving, which carries a 90-day minimum sentence.

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However, all argued it was essentially impossible for them to serve their time on weekends as the law allows.

That’s because the nearest jail is hundreds of kilometres from their fly-in community.

Judge David Gibson said forcing the mothers to leave their children for extended periods would be harmful.

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The government has now promised to pay for the accused to serve their sentences intermittently.

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