A Triumph of Liberalism: The Supreme Court of Canada and the Exclusion of Evidence


  • Julianne Parfett




The common law has historically defined self- incrimination narrowly. Using Packer's models of the criminal justice system as a framework, the article examines the Supreme Court of Canada's interpretations of s. 24(2) of the Charter. The Court has expanded the definitions of both self incrimination and remoteness. The author argues that s. 24(2) has ceased to be a remedy requiring the balancing of interests and has become a quasi- automatic rule of exclusion, which promotes individual rights at the cost of victim's rights. Further, in the Court's zeal to protect the integrity of the system, there is no allowance made for the seriousness of the breach, the consequences of the exclusion, or the causal connection between the breach and any evidence obtained. The author argues that this has resulted in a justice system more concerned with police behaviour than with the pursuit of truth. Instead, either the exclusionary rule must be used to foster a balance of individual and communitarian rights, or other more imaginative remedies should be crafted from s. 24(2) to protect the integrity of the legal system.