Rounding Up the Usual Criminal Suspects, and a Few More Civil Ones: Section 7 after Chaoulli

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Section 7, Criminal Law, Civil, Psychological Stress, Chaouilli, Charkoui, Security, Principles of Fundamental Justice


By the 1990s, any criminal lawyer or judge could readily "round up the usual suspects," a string of solid section 7 authorities in criminal law. The civil cases, by contrast, have been narrow, cautious and inconsistent, until Chaoulli. After a review of various narrowing devices used in civil matters, the author looks at the scope of "life, liberty and security of the person" and suggests some problems with the Supreme Court's "psychological stress" analysis of "security." A quick look at the "top ten" criminal "principles of fundamental justice" is followed by a discussion of the three related crossover principles of overbreadth, vagueness and arbitrariness. To date, any "principles" in civil matters have reflected their criminal origins in physical liberty and the state-vs-citizen structure of proceedings. Chaoulli and Charkoui may mark a new beginning, or just another twist for section 7 in civil matters.