Last Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada decided in R. v. Lloyd that a mandatory minimum sentence of one year's imprisonment for a second drug trafficking offence is unconstitutional. Released almost a year to the day after the Supreme Court released its seminal decision in R. v. Nur striking down another mandatory minimum sentence for possession of a loaded prohibited firearm, Lloyd raises the question of whether a whole slough of mandatory minimums that were enacted by the Harper government are also vulnerable to challenge, including for large-scale fraud.

Although potentially vulnerable, Lloyd suggests that a successful challenge is almost certain to be a Pyrrhic victory, as the minimum remains a valid expression of Parliament's intention as to what should be the low end of the sentence range for the vast majority of offenders. The mandatory minimum will only be undercut where it would result in a sentence that is grossly disproportionate given the circumstances of the offence and the offender.