Current & Curious: Systemic issues with Quebec PSRs?

Kelvin Earl McPherson was a pimp. In November of 2012 a jury found McPherson guilty of procuring a person to become a prostitute and exercising control. McPherson’s trial proceeded entirely in English.


Following the jury’s findings of guilt, Baltman J of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered the preparation of a pre-sentence report (PSR). Sentencing was set to proceed on January 10, 2013: [2012] OJ No 5931 (SCJ).

Some ten days after the order for the PSR was made Baltman J received a letter, in French, from a probation officer in Montreal. The probation officer indicated that she had been assigned to the preparation of the McPherson PSR and due to regional backlogs the standard time for preparation of these reports was 12-13 weeks. As such, the McPherson report would not be ready prior to February 11, 2013.

Baltman J noted that:

A time period exceeding three months from the date of conviction for the completion of a PSR is well beyond the usual 6 to 8 week range frequently accommodated in Brampton, one of the busiest courthouses in the country. Moreover, the court's direction of November 2nd, 2012, was a court order in a federal proceeding, not a request subject to the convenience or efficiencies of a particular provincial probation service [para 4].

Baltman J, in conjunction with counsel, rescheduled the sentencing hearing for February 20, 2013. Given the schedules of the parties involved the matter had to be set for 8:30 instead of the usual 10 am start time. In setting this new date Baltman J noted that the report was to be prepared in English. The trial having proceeded in English, there was no conceivable reason why the report would then be prepared in French.

Baltman J then directed that:

[T]he Superior Court of Justice Trial Coordinator shall forthwith send a copy of this endorsement to the Director of Legal Services, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Ontario. While it may be that the probation services unit within Ontario regularly delegates preparation of a PSR relating to an out-of-province resident to the provincial government of an offender's residency, the Ontario government remains obliged to discharge its obligations pursuant to s. 721 of the Criminal Code. I therefore expect that Ontario will communicate this endorsement to the responsible official in Quebec and insure that the order is satisfied [para 7].

This case is one of a few in the last year indicating a growing problem with the preparation of PSRs in Quebec. In R v KK, [2012] OJ No 1592 (SCJ) the offender had lived for most of her life on a small aboriginal reserve in Quebec. Having been convicted in Ontario, the preparation of the PSR was transferred to Quebec. Gladue content was to be included in this PSR. The report submitted was wholly inadequate, containing no Gladue component and written in French, a language not spoken by the offender. Hill J ordered that a new report be prepared in Ontario; obviously delaying the sentencing proceedings.

McPherson’s sentencing was put until February 20, 2013- reasons for sentence were provided on March 19, 2013.