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Robson Hall Faculty of Law

Wpg Free Press: Charter challenge from classroom to courtroom

May 17, 2021 — 

As the Winnipeg Free Press reports:

A group of University of Manitoba law students has taken on a unique charter challenge, arguing hefty mandatory minimum fines are “cruel and unusual” punishment for low-income tax offenders.

In May 2020, Larissa Campbell, student supervisor at the university’s Community Law Centre (known as the Legal Aid clinic), was in charge of several cases of Manitobans who had brought cigarettes into the province from a First Nations community just across the Ontario border, without having paid the required taxes.

Many of the files tacked offenders with minimum penalties ranging from $8,000 to more than $15,000 — far more than any of her clients could pay.

All of the centre’s clients fall into a lower income bracket, Campbell explained, meaning a multi-thousand-dollar fine is “significant — to the point where it raised some red flags.”

As a third-year law student, armed with fresh perspective and a passion for fairness and equality under the law, Campbell and fellow students Dan Jr Patriarca and Brayden McDonald began putting together a case arguing such crushing fines violate Section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Read the full Free Press story online.

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