Quotable Quote: Context is everything

Robert Julien pleaded guilty to, inter alia, possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking.  During submissions the Crown argued that the prevalence of this type of offence in the Cornwall area should be an aggravating factor.  The Crown did not call any evidence to support this submission.
In rendering his decision on sentence Pelletier J considered this threshold issue: R v Julien, 2011 ONSC 5989. Pelletier J concluded that "emperical [sic] or statistical evidence is required to advance, as an aggravating factor, that a given offence is prevalent in the community as to be [sic] merit a sentence which may be more punitive than it might otherwise be" [para 4]. 

Pelletier J continued, however, and added, "a Court is capable, as an observer of its own process, to consider whether the prosecution of a particular crime represents either an isolated or frequent occurrence" [para 5]. His Honour continued with the following quotable quote:
While the recurrence of a certain type of prosecution cannot be viewed as an aggravating factor absent evidence showing that it is disproportionately frequent, it can nonetheless be examined and, if appropriate, considered as one factor in balancing the various sentencing objectives. Stated otherwise, a Court dealing with an offense seldom before the Courts may be less inclined to consider denunciation and deterrence as primary sentencing objectives, depending of course on the seriousness and nature of the offense. Conversely, a Court dealing with the disposition of an offense that is frequently before the Court would, logically, consider that the public safety objectives of the sentencing exercise call for a sentence with a sufficient denunciatory and deterrent effect. In all of the circumstances, I have concluded that there is no factual foundation for concluding that the possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking represents a societal problem in Cornwall and the surrounding area beyond what is being experienced in other communities in Ontario and the rest of the country. That said, offenses of trafficking in hard drugs are frequently before the Courts in this community. In addition, the Court is regularly confronted with cases involving serious offenses against the person, including homicides, where drugs are a central feature of the commission of the offense. Cases involving drug trafficking are not isolated matters before this Court, nor are cases where drugs figure prominently in related property and serious personal injury offenses. 
Accordingly, the determination of an appropriate sentence in the present case takes into consideration, along with other factors, that the use and sale of addictive and destructive drugs is a societal problem that has not escaped the City of Cornwall and the surrounding area; and one which must be confronted having regard to need to denounce and deter the conduct as a means of promoting a safe and peaceful community [paras 6-7]; [emphasis added].
Pelletier J sentenced Julien to 15 months incarceration and 18 months probation.

DG Mack