Episode 22 – The Implications of the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R v. Wong

R v. Wong is a 2018 Supreme Court of Canada decision in which the Supreme Court of Canada had to determine whether a person could withdraw a guilty plea if they they did not know that their pleading guilty would lead to deportation.

Peter Edelmann and Erica Olmstead are lawyers at Edelmann & Co. They represented the accused at the Supreme Court. Lobat Sadrehashemi represented one of the invervenors, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.

2:00 – The facts of the case. Mr. Wong pleads guilty to trafficking cocaine. He learns afterwards that this will lead to his deportation. He did not know this when he pled. Can he reverse his plea?

4:29 – How does a guilty plea work? Is it like in the movies?

7:40 – What was the judicial history of this case?

8:50 – What was the perspective of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers regarding whether previously unknown immigration consequences should result in a person being able to set aside their guilty plea?

14:00 – When Peter, Erika and Lobat talk about whether people should know about the immigration consequences of a guilty plea, what does “immigration consequences” mean? How did the court rule?

19:00 – If the Crown or a judge now have the obligation to ensure that an individual is informed about immigration consequences when they make a guilty plea, should defense counsel worry that this might usurp their role?

19:30 – What is problematic about the incompetence of counsel framework?

23:40 – What was the majority ruling in R v. Wong?

25:06 – The court ruled that to set aside a guilty plea a person has to show that their plea would have been different. What does this subjective requirement look like?

33:18 – At what point in the criminal justice system would someone’s immigration system become known?

34:45 – How complicated are the immigration consequences of a guilty plea? What level of immigration consequences should determine whether a guilty plea is informed? Is it just deportation? Or should it be other things, such as inability to sponsor a spouse, or being ineligible to apply for citizenship, for example.