Legal Word of the Day: “Proportionality Principle”

Image: Bastique

Image: Bastique

“Proportionality Principle”: In a Constitutional context, this concept is designed to limit abuse of power and infringement of human rights and freedoms by governments and other public officials to the minimum necessary in the circumstances.

With the Supreme Court’s decision in R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103, a three-part proportionality test was established. It has been called a “typically Canadian” response to legislation that affects citizens’ rights.

The measure must be:

  • Rationally connected to a justifiable objective
  • Provide the least impairment or harm to the right or freedom in question, while likely to achieve the objective
  • Proportional; that is, the harms caused by the measure and the benefits of achieving the important objective are proportional.

See also:

Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony, 2009 SCC 37 (CanLII), [2009] 2 SCR 567
Provincial laws requiring photo drivers’ licenses are justified under s. 1 of the Charter.

R. v. L.F.W., 2000 SCC 6 (CanLII), [2000] 1 SCR 132
The court found: “The trial judge did not give sufficient weight to the moral blameworthiness of the offender in disregard of the proportionality principle… This offends the proportionality principle set out in s. 718.1 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, which establishes the fundamental principle that the court must impose a sentence proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.”

%d bloggers like this: