From Sweeney to Smith: Sentencing for Impaired Driving Causing Death or Bodily Harm in the BC Court of Appeal (Part 2)
(This is the second of a two-part post on sentencing in cases of impaired driving causing death. The first part is posted here.)
Retribution and Denunciation
The law started moving away from Sweeney when the decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in R. v. M. (C.A.) 1994 CanLII 8741 (BCCA)., which rejected retribution as a legitimate aim of the criminal justice system, was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada.
R. v. M. (C.A.),  1 SCR 500 was an appalling case of shocking sexual violence by a father against his children. In the Supreme Court of Canada, speaking for the Court, Chief Justice Lamer said that, "Retribution in a criminal context... represents an objective, reasoned and measured determination of an appropriate punishment which properly reflects the moral culpability of the offender having regard to the intentional risk-taking of the offender, the consequential harm caused by the offender, and the normative character of the offender's conduct."
The Chief Justice distinguished retribution from denunciation. He said that retribution required a sentence that reflected the moral blameworthiness of the particular offender. In contrast, "the objective of denunciation mandates that a sentence should also communicate society's condemnation of that particular offender's conduct."