Update on failure to act

FrontLine has just confirmed that the case in which a man was acquitted of sexual assault in part because he was unaware his actions were criminal, has been appealed by the Ontario AG's Office. Confusion about whether or not appeal would be filed was due to a change in the citation description from the original ruling. Internal procedures aside, this is very good news for the people of Ontario and indeed Canada as it means this critically important issue is still before the Courts and that the Government of Ontario is defending our secular rule of law.

Below is our original post of 17 Nov 2017:

Last week FrontLine ran a column that described a strange ruling by an Ontario Court where a man was acquitted of sexually assaulting his wife because, even though the judge expressly believed the woman that she did not factually consent, both the man and woman believed that their 'culture' allowed him to have sex with her whenever he wanted. As noted in the column, Canadian law expressly requires actual consent, including from spouses, and specifies that not knowing the law is not a defence to breaking it. Despite these clear principles of law, the trial judge ignored them and concluded the prosecution had failed to prove the necessary criminal intent.

The article also pointed out that the deadline for filing an appeal against this inappropriate ruling was fast approaching and that no such announcement had been made by the Ontario Attorney General's Office which has jurisdiction in the matter. Despite confirmed inquiries of the AG's Office, no answer has been forthcoming and, as such, it now appears that the ruling will not be challenged on appeal.

This failure to act is alarming in that the Government of Ontario has decided not to challenge the ruling which undermines the protections afforded by Canadian law to persons vulnerable to sexual assault and allows 'cultural' beliefs to supersede secular law. How is that acceptable in Canadian society?

It is also important to note that none of the Opposition parties, either Provincial or Federal, or our self described 'feminist' national government, raised this issue to ask that an appeal be filed. Why were they silent?

These are questions that need to be asked and answered if the rule of secular law in Canada is to be preserved and protected. 

– Scott Newark is a former Alberta Crown Prosecutor who has also served as Executive Officer of the Canadian Police Association, Vice Chair of the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, Director of Operations to the Washington D.C.-based Investigative Project on Terrorism and as a Security Policy Advisor to the Governments of Ontario and Canada. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the TRSS Program in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.