Elizabeth May welcomes Supreme Court of Canada decision on mandatory minimums

(OTTAWA) April 15, 2016 – Elizabeth May welcomes two decisions today by the Supreme Court of Canada that key “tough on crime” measures brought in by the previous Conservative government are unconstitutional.

“Today’s ruling serves as a stark reminder that the damage of the Harper years still needs to be fixed,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “As we face crises of overcrowding in our prisons and overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black inmates, we need to re-examine the role that mandatory minimums play in perpetuating overincarceration and systemic discrimination. The Supreme Court has found multiple times that mandatory minimums constitute ‘cruel and unusual punishment.”

“I will be introducing a Private Member’s Bill in the coming days to address the crisis imposed by mandatory minimum sentences. We cannot delay the conversation any longer,” Ms. May said.

Dimitri Lascaris, Green Party Justice Critic, said: “The Court’s decision today highlights the inhumanity of subjecting a broad range of conduct to significant terms of imprisonment, even where the conduct does not merit severe punishment.

“Mandatory minimum sentences deprive courts of the discretion they ought to have to order punishments that fit the crime. Such sentences are particularly inappropriate in the drug context, where effective rehabilitation – and not prolonged imprisonment – is often the best way to address the conduct of the offender. The Green Party of Canada welcomes today’s decision,” Mr. Lascaris said.