It seems to me that the accused under this section 14 is absolutely presumed to be guilty at the beginning. LTnder that section as it has been amended the presumption of guilt is against the prisoner. In fact, he is said to be guilty. When the prosecutor comes into court, it is simply necessary to have the magistrate read the information; then the prisoner pleads not guilty, and he has to proceed and prove himself not guilty. If that magistrate is, as often happens to be the case, a prejudiced person, the accused person is so to speak convicted before he arrives in
court, and the man has no right of appeal. If the party does not establish his innocence, the onus of proof being placed upon him, surely the Crown or the informer does not suffer by giving him the right of appeal. He has to put up a bond of probably double the amount of the fine and sufficient security to pay the costs, and he comes before the court. Then the judge has an opportunity of trying the case de novo; he is judge of both the law and the facts. If you take away this right of appeal, you first declare that the onus is on the man to prove his innocence. Then, if he does not establish that to the satisfaction of a prejudiced magistrate-and magistrates in the country are not the same as the trained lawyers we find in the cities and larger towns- he is denied the right of appeal. If you have the man convicted and you have his bond for double the amount of the fine if he is fined, how does the Crown suffer? Then you take away the right of certiorari. In the Nova Scotia legislature some eight or ten days ago a bill was introduced by the provincial Attorney General, who is probably the best criminal lawyer in that province, to give in an application for a writ of certiorari, power to the judge to look at the depositions to see if a prima facie case is made out. Formerly if a conviction was complete and regular on its face, the judge could not look at the evidence; he had to confirm the conviction. By virtue of this bill, if it becomes law in Nova Scotia, where a provincial act is concerned, the judge before whom the matter comes will look at the evidence in order to see if a prima facie case has been made out, and if not, he has authority to make the rule nisi absolute. That is the experience of Nova Scotia under the Temperance Act and other drastic acts of the province. In this case you are taking away the right of certiorari absolutely. If a conviction happens to be a complete conviction on its face, no matter whether there is
Narcotic Drugs Act
evidence enough or not to substantiate the conviction, the judge has no power on certiorari. The man is haled before the court; if he is in the hands of a prejudiced magistrate, he is found guilty and he has no right of appeal. This is most dastardly legislation. It is true that very drastic remedies are required to cope with this drug evil; but they should not go so far as to take away every principle of British justice. While we are all agreed that drastic measures should be adopted in order to stamp out this evil, when you are amply protected, for heaven's sake give the accused a chance for his life.