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Osgoode Hall Law Journal

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Canada; Criminal law; Defences; Intoxication


For decades, Canadian courts grappled with the issue of whether intoxication should mitigate criminal responsibility. During that time, Parliament avoided dealing with this controversial issue, preferring to leave it in the hands of judges. This paper examines the legislative response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1994 decision in R. v. Daviault. The author argues that Bill C-72, which limits the defence of extreme intoxication, is constitutional because of its strong underpinnings in equality. The author reviews the statistics on violence against women and the role of intoxication in that violence to illustrate why the defence of intoxication raises issues of sex equality. The author argues that a court assessing the constitutionality of Bill C-72 should consider this strong foundation in equality and the fact that the Bill is the result of a careful balancing of the interests at stake by a democratically elected legislature.

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Criminal Law Commons