We should be acting to remove mandatory minimums

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, the bill is very disappointing for those of us on the opposition benches who sat through the 41st Parliament. We saw a radical overhaul of the criminal justice system by the previous government in ways that undermined our criminal justice system, overloaded our jails, and passed the cost on to the provinces, and here I speak of the mandatory minimums.

Mandatory minimums were added to many things. I opposed them at the time, and I really did expect that the current Minister of Justice would take on this issue of mandatory minimums head-on. Now we have Bill C-75, which is fairly voluminous, but it ignores this substantial issue that is crying out for reform.

I wonder if my hon. colleague has any idea why we do not see the removal of the mandatory minimum sentences that are sprinkled throughout our criminal system. Many of them have now been struck down by the Supreme Court. Surely we should be acting to remove them.

Sukh Dhaliwal – Member for Surrey-Newton

Madam Speaker, when the leader of the Green Party was talking about the previous Harper Conservative government, I remembered that their focus was on building jails. On the other hand, when we look at our government, it is using a balanced approach. On one side we want to make sure that we have a justice system that deals with criminals, but on the other hand we want to make sure that we have the programs in place that can rehabilitate offenders, that can educate, and that we have enough police forces on the ground to deal with this situation.

When it comes to minimum mandatory sentencing, I believe there should be strong sentences. Victims deserve that justice. In fact, this is the bill that helps those victims get justice by bringing it—