By Matteo Cimellaro Local Journalism Initiative Reporter In a 5-4 split decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled last week that “tough-on-crime” legislation that restricts discretionary conditional sentences is constitutional. The Harper-era laws require those who commit certain “serious offences,” particularly drug offences, to serve prison sentences rather than conditional ones. A conditional sentence can be served out of prison, often within a person’s community. The Supreme Court justices who upheld the laws found they did not violate the Charter rights of Cheyenne Sharma, the respondent in the case, and that reforming conditional sentencing was the responsibility of Parliament, not the courts. The dissenting justices argued the limitations on conditional sentencing were racially discriminatory and infringed on Sharma’s Charter rights as an Indigenous person. Sharma, an Ojibwa woman, was 20
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