Stephen Harper’s cruel and unusual mandatory minimums

OTTAWA – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich – Gulf Islands, issued the following statement concerning this morning’s Supreme Court ruling on mandatory minimum sentences:

“The Harper administration has yet again been rebuked for its persistent refusal to create laws compliant with our Constitution. Today’s ruling validates those experts who opposed, and continue to oppose, the mandatory minimums that this administration pushes through Parliament and onto Conservative election brochures. Chief Justice McLachlin’s writing is crystal clear: mandatory minimum sentences ‘function as a blunt instrument that may deprive courts of the ability to tailor proportionate sentences at the lower end of a sentencing range.’

“The Supreme Court has confirmed what the Green Party has been arguing for years – mandatory minimums are draconian, unconstitutional and harmful public policy.”

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled this morning that the Harper Conservatives’ mandatory minimums for certain firearms offences, introduced in 2008, violate the Charter. The Court struck down two mandatory minimums related to gun offences because they constitute cruel and unusual punishment, prohibited by s. 12 of the Charter.

Bruce Hyer, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Superior North continued:

“We do need to do everything possible to deter crime and protect our citizens. However, a central principal of the Canadian sentencing process is that the punishment should fit the crime. The criminal code directs judges to consider the circumstances of the offence and of the offender. A one-size-fits-all solution may seem appealing but sentences are inherently unjust when blind to the facts of the case.”