Updated: Dec 20, 2020
Serré, the appellant, appealed his sentence of 6 years minus 26 months credit for a conviction of impaired driving, dangerous driving, and failing to stop while being pursued by the police, and driving while disqualified.
Issue on Appeal
The appellant’s argument is that the trial judge made an error by not applying Gladue* principles when considering Serré’s criminal record when determining an appropriate sentence, taking into account his Aboriginal status.
Serré’s criminal record has over 40 convictions, with approximately half of the convictions related to driving and alcohol. The appellant argued that Gladue principles were not properly applied to his previous sentences and that this created a high baseline for the trial judge to consider in determining his current sentence. He also argued that the trial judge did not exercise restraint in imposing the current sentence and is seeking a reduction of his sentence to 4 years and 2 months minus credit for the time he spent in jail awaiting his trial.
The Court dismissed the appeal, and upheld the sentence imposed at trial with the exception of setting aside a victim surcharge** that was imposed. The Court stated that there was no basis to intervene in the sentence imposed, as the trial judge carefully reviewed the Gladue report that was prepared. The trial judge took into account systemic factors that contributed to Serré’s life circumstance and stated that his ‘moral blameworthiness’ was reduced because of this.
*Gladue principles arise from the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R v Gladue,  1 SCR 688. Gladue principles must be considered when sentencing Indigenous offenders. Section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code is a statutory provision that states that during the sentencing process, a court should consider all available sanctions, other than imprisonment, that are reasonable in the circumstances and consistent with the harm done to victims or to the community for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders.
**A victim surcharge is a fine that can be imposed on an individual convicted of an offense, according to Section 737 of the Criminal Code. This is in addition to any other punishment, such as jail time.