Bill C-10: Mandatory Minimum Sentences

On November 23, 2006 LEAF appeared as a witness before the federal Justice and Human Rights Committee to make submissions relating to the federal government’s proposed Bill C-10, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Minimum Penalties for Offences Involving Firearms). LEAF took the position that the Justice Committee should recommend the Bill’s withdrawal because its introduction would constitute a violation of the federal government’s obligation under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to promote and protect the equality rights of disadvantaged persons in Canada.

On May 4, 2006 the federal government introduced Bill C-10 and announced its intention to increase the number of offences in the Criminal Code to which mandatory minimum sentences would apply. The Bill would impose mandatory minimum sentences of between three and ten years for various gun related crimes. The issue of mandatory minimum sentences is important from an equality perspective because of the ineffectiveness of mandatory minimum sentencing and its discriminatory application. It is LEAF’s position that the proposed legislation, which focuses exclusively on the punishment of offenders, will lead to further discriminatory adverse effects on historically disadvantaged groups. LEAF urged the government to abandon this approach in favour of “a policy that focuses on fair sentences, compassion, and understanding of victims as well as offenders, along with policies that focus on providing real rather than apparent security and change in social policy.”

LEAF conducted its work on Bill C-10 in partnership with the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS). Fiona Sampson testified before the Justice Committee with respect to the discrimination associated with Bill C-10. We are very grateful to the subcommittee who supported this initiative and contributed to the drafting of LEAF’s written submission.

LEAF’s written submission on Bill C-10 is available HERE.