OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear a case that involves the Conservative government's tougher sentencing laws.
At issue is part of the Truth in Sentencing Act — a provision that prohibits a trial judge from giving more than one-for-one pre-trial credit if a justice of the peace denies bail to the person because of a previous conviction.
Hamidreza Safarzadeh-Markhali of Pickering, Ont., was arrested in November 2010 on drug and weapons charges.
At a bail hearing, the justice of the peace noted his previous convictions as the reason for his ongoing detention
Following Safarzadeh-Markhali's conviction in 2011, his lawyers called on the trial judge to strike down the provision the Conservative government enacted in 2009 that eliminated the court's discretion to give more than one day credit for each day spent in pre-trial custody.
Ontario Court of Justice Judge Michael Block agreed, and awarded Safarzadeh-Markhali 1.5 days credit for each day he spent in custody awaiting trial.
Last year, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld Block's ruling, saying the law is unconstitutional because, among other things, it could create sentencing disparities for similarly placed offenders.
As usual, the Supreme Court did not give reasons for agreeing to hear the case.