Advocate Appalled By Decision To Allow ‘Intoxication Defence’

Advocate Appalled By Decision To Allow ‘Intoxication Defence’
By Miranda Chant, August 30, 2018

The head of the London Abused Women’s Centre is shocked and angered by an Ontario Superior Court Justice’s decision to once again clear the way for the so-called “intoxication defence” in sexual assault cases.

Megan Walker noted the ruling, which deemed the federal law that prohibited the defence unconstitutional, fails to recognize the significant trauma sexual assault victims suffer.

“It also places the lives of women at a disadvantage because you certainly couldn’t use an intoxication defence in cases like murder or robbery or drunk driving. But for some reason when it comes to the rights of women, women’s lives, and their health it always seems that the law lags behind. And even when we catch up some judge comes along and puts us back in our place,” said Walker. “More than anything else I think it is appalling. I think it is appalling that any judge can say that men who are intoxicated can use that as justification to rape women.”

Justice Nancy Spies’ decision was handed down earlier this month and relates to Section 33.1 of the Criminal Code which was established in July 1995.

“Section 33.1’s objective… is not sufficiently pressing and substantial to justify the great damage it does to fair trial interests,” wrote Spies. She then went on to affirm that section of the Criminal Code is “of no force and effect in Ontario” and is inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Spies decision clears the way for Cameron McCaw, a Toronto man accused of sexually assaulting his roommate’s girlfriend in July 2015, to argue he was suffering from self-induced extreme intoxication at the time and was unaware of his actions.

“Women have a right to live their lives free from violence. And why is it that male rights would supersede those of women?” Walker questioned.

Walker said Spies’ ruling, which gives McCaw’s lawyer the leeway to use the defence, will have much bigger implications throughout the province.

“The ruling fails to recognize the systemic issues that contribute to male violence against women and that male violence against women is not isolated incidents, it is actually a collective incident that impacts all women. So to allow for individual defences as a way to justify and normalize male violence against women really is not a step backwards, it is about 16 steps back,” said Walker. “I become very, very concerned when I see rulings like this about the state of affairs we are leaving future generations of girls and women. I think communities across Ontario should be outraged by this.”

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