Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Cases That Should Have Gone to the Supreme Court of Canada, But Didn’t!

Welcome to Cases That Should Have Gone to the Supreme Court of Canada, But Didn’t! This week, lawyer Kyla Lee discusses cruel and unusual punishment or treatment.

Acumen Law Corporation lawyer Kyla Lee gives her take on a made-in-Canada court case each week and discusses why these cases should have been heard by Canada’s highest court: the Supreme Court of Canada.


In Quebec, a contractor was working without a contractor’s licence and Quebec law imposes a penalty for over $30,000 as a minimum fine for doing contract work without a contractor’s licence. The individual, in this case, received that fine and challenged it on the basis of the fact that the fine itself constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

the court dismissed his arguments that his Charter rights were being violated, determining that a fine of $30,000 didn’t constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

This raises a very important question: Although cruel and unusual punishment often refers to the imposition of lengthy prison sentences and is used as a method to attack mandatory minimum jail terms in criminal cases, huge fines can effectively have the same result as criminal sentences for jail. Even the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that in looking recently at the mandatory minimum fine surcharge and determined that that was cruel and unusual punishment and unconstitutional.

So how does a $30,000 fine impose as a mandatory minimum fine differ in any way?

Watch the video for more.

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