Bill Removing Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Some Drug and Firearms Offences Becomes Law

Bill Removing Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Some Drug and Firearms Offences Becomes Law
Minister of Justice David Lametti speaks about repealing mandatory minimum sentences during a news conference in Ottawa on Dec. 7, 2021. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Peter Wilson
Legislation sponsored by Attorney General David Lametti rolling back a number of mandatory minimum sentences for some drug and firearms offences is now law in Canada.
Bill C-5 amends the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to remove 20 mandatory minimum sentences, which are mostly for certain drug and gun charges. The bill also gives judges more freedom in granting conditional sentences.

The Conservatives said the move will only serve to "embolden criminals."

In a statement released Friday, Conservative MPs Rob Moore and Pierre Paul-Hus called the new legislation "a shameless move that lacks any compassion for victims of violent crime."

"Weakening sentences will not reduce crime, it will only embolden criminals," the MPs wrote, adding that the legislation will take away mandatory jail time for crimes such as robbery with guns, weapons trafficking, and importing or exporting guns illegally.

"Soft-on-crime Bill C-5 will have devastating impacts on victims and survivors of crime while putting at risk the safety of Canadian communities as a whole," the statement says.

Lametti has defended the legislation in the past, saying that mandatory penalties for certain crimes have a "negative impact" on racialized Canadians.

"You couldn’t have a conditional sentence order for an indigenous mother who was caught in very low level of trafficking in order to put bread on the table," he told the Senate legal committee on Sept. 21.
"That’s the kind of social problem that needs to be attacked at its root, and we’re trying to do that here."

'Systemic Racism'

The government's backgrounder on Bill C-5 says there is "systemic racism in Canada’s criminal justice system" which the new legislation is targeting.

"We have heard Canadians, the courts and criminal justice experts, and seen the evidence of the disproportionate representation of Indigenous peoples, as well as Black Canadians and members of marginalized communities, both as offenders and as victims. The proposed legislation would help to address these issues," the backgrounder says.

C-5 will remove mandatory jail time for gun trafficking—a crime Toronto Police Association President Jon Reid thinks should carry even heavier penalties than previously prescribed under the law.

"If somebody's involved in trafficking firearms, they need to go to jail for a long, long time," he told The Epoch Times in a previous interview.

"Gun crime itself has really started going up now," he added. "Unfortunately, now the proliferation of firearms up here in Canada from the U.S.—it's grown almost out of control."
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.