Can we talk?

I’m not a criminal lawyer. Our firm does not practice criminal law. However, I recall in Law School we learned about the presumption of innocence in first year Criminal Law. Our Criminal Justice System holds this as a fundamental tenet. This principle matters: if you were charged with a crime, you would want to be presumed innocent.

With the above in mind, I was surprised to read that there is a “start by believing” campaign circulating around police forces in Canada. There was a Globe & Mail article detailing the campaign here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/halifax-police-sign-on-to-start-by-believing-sex-assault-campaign/article34610504/.

This says to my legally trained brain that the police are now going to begin a sexual assault investigation with a presumption of guilt of the alleged offender. That’s contrary to our Justice system principles.

I’ve also noticed a big increase in articles about University campuses clamping down on having speakers into campus who hold views that uphold the principles of our Justice system. This is being done in the name of “protecting victims from being triggered.”
This is dangerous. We’re educating a generation of students to ignore our Justice system values and to put their fingers in their ears and cover their eyes when faced with a view contrary to theirs.

This is not healthy for our future and only can lead to nasty divisiveness as the new generation of University graduates will not be equipped to have a calm debate about issues in order to reach a compromise position.

Democracy requires a free and open exchange and debate of ideas in a civilized manner. Let’s get back to that.

Inga B. Andriessen JD
iandriessen@andriessen.ca

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