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exclusion of evidence


            Evidence, as former Chief Justice Lamer once remarked, "May at times be obtained at too high a price1." That is why s-s. 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which came into effect in 1982, authorizes Canadian Courts, to exclude unconstitutionally obtained evidence if its admission could bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Previous to the Charter, illegally obtained evidence generally had to be admitted if it met the test of relevancy. The only exceptions related to involuntary statements made to persons in authority, illegal wire-taps, and a narrow judicial discretion to exclude evidence of trifling probative value compared to its prejudicial effect on the accused.
             In 1970, the Supreme Court of Canada held in R. v. Wray that our courts had no general.
             discretion to exclude otherwise admissible evidence derived or obtained through improper means. In 1981 the Supreme Court ruled in R. v. Rothman that a confession obtained by a police trick could not be excluded. The Wray and Rothman decisions valued reliability above fairness or the integrity of the judicial system. Many in the legal community were disillusioned with that state of law and advocated change. In 1975, the Law Reform Commission of Canada recommended that judges be given power to exclude evidence in exceptional cases if its use in the proceedings would tend to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Similar recommendations followed from the Ontario Law Reform Commission in 1976 and the MacDonald Inquiry concerning the R.C.M.P. misconduct in 1981.
             Change finally came on April 17, 1982, when s-s. 24(2) of the Charter became law. Add in the constitution charter of right section 24(2) .
             This provision gave our courts the power and also a duty to exclude unconstitutionally obtained evidence regardless of its probative value or reliability if, considering all the circumstances, its admission would bring disrepute upon the administration of justice.


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