The Liberal government has tabled legislation to eliminate mandatory minimum penalties for a number of tobacco, firearms and drug offences.
The bill would eliminate mandatory minimum penalties (MMPs) for 14 of the 67 offences in the Criminal Code that currently carry them — 13 for firearms offences and one for a tobacco offence.
The bill also would eliminate all six MMPs for offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. MMPs would remain for murder and sexual offences, as well as a number of firearms offences.
The bill is identical to Bill C-22, introduced in February of this year. That legislation died on the order paper when the federal election was called in the fall.
“With Bill C-5, we are turning the page on the policy of the former government. It is a policy that in the end did not discourage crime or make our justice system more efficient or more fair,” Justice Minister David Lametti said today.
“All the approach did was imprison too many Indigenous, Black and marginalized Canadians.”
The Conservative government under prime minister Stephen Harper introduced many MMPs to the Criminal Code during its nine years in power. Many of those penalties were struck down by courts across the country as unconstitutional.
Critics of mandatory minimum penalties argue that they disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous and marginalized Canadians and lead to over-incarceration.
“Indigenous adults represent five per cent of the general population but account for 30 per cent of federally incarcerated inmates,” Lametti said. “That’s double where it was 20 years ago.”
Lametti said that Black inmates make up 7.2 per cent of the federal inmate population but only three per cent of the Canadian population.
“These statistics, this record, is shameful,” he said, adding that a mandatory minimum sentence does not allow a judge to take mitigating factors into account.
Source From CBC News