Court Denies Canada’s Attempt to Adjourn CCLA’s Segregation Challenge

July 6, 2017


July 6, 2017

TORONTO, Ont.  ̶   Associate Chief Justice Marrocco ruled today that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA’s) challenge of segregation (solitary confinement) practices will go ahead, denying a motion by the government to adjourn the case. The hearing will be held, as scheduled, on September 11, 2017.

Canada sought to adjourn the proceeding in light of Bill C-56 – An Act to Amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole. This bill creates certain limited restrictions around the use of segregation in Canadian federal prisons. 

CCLA’s challenge to aspects of Canada’s administrative segregation (solitary confinement) regime argues that provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act S.C. 1992 c. 20 violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As to the Government’s motion to adjourn the case, CCLA had argued before the court that the bill did not substantively address CCLA’s concerns with current segregation practices, that substantial evidence including key witness testimony had already been brought before the court, and that there were individuals currently in segregation in desperate need of a remedy.

Today’s Endorsement by Associate Chief Justice Marrocco included some similar findings, holding that:

“Even if Bill C-56 is enacted, every ground of this application will be continued… I am satisfied that the [CCLA’s] application challenges the constitutionality of aspects of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that are not affected by the proposed amendments and that it is not, therefore, disrespectful of Parliament’s legislative process to continue with this application.”

Responding to the Endorsement, Michael Rosenberg, CCLA’s counsel in this matter offers:

“Associate Chief Justice Marrocco’s decision confirms that the proposed legislation does not help the vulnerable groups on whose behalf the CCLA commenced this constitutional challenge. Parliament’s failure to end the abhorrent practice of prolonged solitary confinement makes this case more important than ever.  There are a great many people depending on this challenge, and they cannot wait any longer.”

Associate Chief Justice Marrocco’s Endorsement can be found here.

CCLA’s Factum on the Motion to Adjourn can be found here.

Michael Rosenberg
McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Jonathan Lisus
Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Acting Executive Director