A judge’s decision to spare Montreal activist Jaggi Singh from a jail sentence for inciting vandalism before the G20 protests in Toronto was reasonable, the province’s highest court has ruled.
Mr. Singh, 40, was handed a suspended sentence last year for counselling to commit mischief after he encouraged protesters to tear down the security fence surrounding the downtown summit.
Justice Robert Bigelow said Mr. Singh’s actions warranted a sentence of 60 to 90 days, but credited the activist with 69 days for the time he spent in jail after his arrest and for the restrictive bail conditions he faced after his release. Mr. Singh was sentenced to 12 months on probation with 75 hours of community service.
The Crown, which had asked for a six-month prison sentence, appealed the decision, arguing that the judge gave too much weight to the severity of the bail conditions -- which included house arrest and a ban from using a cellphone or participating in protests. Crown attorney Roger Shallow said jail time was needed to denounce Mr. Singh’s actions and deter others from committing similar offences.
But in a brief decision issued last week, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, stating that it was not persuaded the original sentence was demonstrably unfit.
Mr. Singh’s lawyer called the Crown’s appeal “outrageous,” saying it was a waste of money and unwarranted under the circumstances. “I can’t find any good reason for it, other than some kind of political distaste for Jaggi Singh,” he said.
Mr. Shallow said the Crown brings forward appeals in the public interest, and noted that the Court of Appeal had agreed to hear his argument. “I respect the court’s decision,” he said. “They've made their decision and that's it.”
Mr. Singh's conviction was based on a news conference on June 24, 2010, two days before the main protests began outside the G20 summit. In response to a question from a reporter, he said the security fence was “completely illegitimate and deserves to be taken down.”
As part of Mr. Singh’s plea agreement, he did not have to apologize for his comments.