Pubdate: Mon, 30 Sep 2002
Source: Daily News, The (CN NS)
Copyright: 2002 The Daily News
Author: Wayne Phillips


To the editor:

Re: Judge: Outcomes 'Inevitably' Disappoint, The Daily News, Sept. 20:

When Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Joe Kennedy stated, "Perfect justice 
is not to be found in this courtroom; it's not to be found, perhaps, on 
this planet," he wasn't kidding.

One particular case that is troubling is that of Michael Patriquen, who was 
sentenced to a six-year period of incarceration in a federal penitentiary 
by Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Hood for conspiracy to possess 
"cannabis marijuana" for the purposes of trafficking.

Patriquen is a Category 2 Spinal Cord OCMA exemptee, for whom cannabis was 
confirmed as the appropriate treatment for his condition by Dr. M. Lynch of 
the Pain Management Unit at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

Before being sentenced, Patriquen had requested that the sentencing be 
delayed until a Charter challenge was heard concerning the stated inability 
of the Corrections Service and Health Canada to insure that his prescribed 
course of treatment would be available to him for the duration of that 

Hood ruled that Patriquen's rights hadn't been violated because he had yet 
to begin serving his sentence. Only then, when he was deprived of access to 
cannabis, could there be evidence proving his rights had been denied.

On this technicality, Hood denied Patriquen the right to make a Charter 
challenge, stating that it was a matter of civil law between Corrections 
Canada and Patriquen. Clearly, it was a matter of federal law that should 
have been dealt with then.

Upon arriving at the prison, Patriquen was denied access to all treatment 
for his first 10 days in custody. During that time, he lost more than 10 
pounds of body weight. When he was finally offered a minimal pain remedy, 
it was in the form of a treatment already dismissed as ineffectual by both 
Health Canada and the QEII.

Under Canadian law, Patriquen has the Charter right to pursue a 
legitimately prescribed course of treatment, even though imprisoned. 
However, it is currently illegal to provide him with his approved 
medication while in a federal institution. Consequently, an apparent 
conflict of laws arises.

The Patriquen Relief Group has an online petition (at, and is requesting that the justice minister 
review this case and, in the interim, confine Patriquen to supervised house 
arrest, where he could resume his legally prescribed and federally exempted 
regiment of treatment. Though not yet widely publicized, this petition has, 
to date, garnered several hundred signatures.

Wayne Phillips

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