Justice Minister David Lametti’s performance during last Thursday’s press conference for Bill C-22 rivalled Justin Trudeau’s or even William Shatner’s for overacting.
“We’re turning the page on a FAILED [overemphasised for dramatic effect] Conservative criminal justice policy.”
“It was an approach that did NOT [overemphasised for dramatic effect] make our communities safer.”
“It did NOT [overemphasised for dramatic effect] deter criminals.”
“It did NOT [overemphasised for dramatic effect] make the justice system system more effective or more fair.”
Eventually, or perhaps thankfully, Lametti finally stopped over-acting and spoke softly and lovingly into the television camera.
“I’m not talking about hardened criminals here,” he said. “I’m talking about low-risk, first-time, low-risk non-violent offenders. I’m talking about single moms. I’m talking about people with problematic addictions or other health problems.”
“Think about your own kids,” Lametti opined. “I bet you would want them, the first time around, to get the benefit of the doubt or a second chance if they messed up.”
While I may want my kid to get a second chance, there is no denying that if his first arrest is for armed robbery or extortion with a firearm, it’s probably not his first crime – it’s just the first time he got caught.
These are not the actions of a ‘low-risk, non-violent offender’ as Justice Minister Lametti would have us believe.
After lamenting further about a young Northern man who fired a rifle into an abandoned building (without knowing it was empty, Lametti conveniently ignores) who received the mandatory 4-year sentence for “discharging a firearm while being reckless.”
Was that sentence life-destroying?
Absolutely, I have no doubt.
But Lametti is basing his assessment of this young man solely on the fact nobody was injured or killed by his reckless actions.
Had someone been inside the building and they were hit with that reckless bullet, I doubt Minister Lametti would present this young man as “a victim of our criminal justice system.” Good luck is all that prevented someone from being injured or killed on that fateful night of drunken stupidity.
No More Mandatory Minimums
“We proposed to repeal minimum mandatory penalties of imprisonment for all drug offences and certain firearm offences.”
If Lametti dropped mandatory minimums for all drug possession only offences, I’m all for it. Filling prisons with addicts is just plain dumb. They need help, not jail time.
Drug traffickers and illegal drug producers are an entirely different matter, and those are the crimes addressed specifically in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
I’m no fan of removing mandatory minimum sentences for those who profit by destroying the lives of others. This page is filled with cases of drug dealers and other criminals arrested in the possession of illegal guns in violation of their Firearm Prohibition Orders. They need to be removed from police society for a time.
For better or worse, we’ll see if Lametti’s policy positively or negatively affects public safety should it become law.
My bet is residents of our largest cities can look forward to more street violence, not less, if Bill C-22 becomes law.
Extortion, Robbery with a Firearm
Lametti really goes off the rails when it comes to firearms offences, though.
- Using a firearm or imitation firearm in commission of offence (two separate offences)
- Paragraphs 85(3)(a) and (b): MMPs of 1 year (first offence) and 3 years (second and subsequent offence)
- Possession of weapon obtained by commission of offence
- Paragraph 96(2)(a): MMP of 1 year
- Weapons trafficking (excluding firearms and ammunition)
- Subsection 99(3): MMP of 1 year
- Possession for purpose of weapons trafficking (excluding firearms and ammunition)
- Subsection 100(3): MMP of 1 year
- Importing or exporting knowing it is unauthorized (gun smuggling)
- Subsection 103(2.1): MMP of 1 year
- Discharging firearm with intent
- Paragraph 244(2)(b): MMP of 4 years
- Discharging firearm — recklessness
- Paragraph 244.2(3)(b): MMP of 4 years
- Robbery with a firearm
- Paragraph 344(1)(a.1): MMP of 4 years
- Extortion with a firearm
- Paragraph 346(1.1)(a.1): MMP of 4 years
If you’re willing to hold a gun to someone’s head and demand money or other valuables from them, I fail to see why you shouldn’t spend a few years as a guest of the state. Same with gun smuggling, weapons trafficking and using a firearm to commit other offences.
There are two offences for which I agree the mandatory minimum penalty should be removed:
- Possession of firearm or weapon knowing its possession is unauthorized (two separate offences)
- Paragraphs 92(3)(b) and (c): MMP of 1 year (second offence) and 2 years less a day (third and subsequent offence)
- Possession of prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition
- Paragraphs 95(2)(i) and (ii): MMPs of 3 years (first offence) and 5 years (second and subsequent offence)
These are charges any firearms owner could face if their Possession and Acquisition License inadvertently expires, for example. Does a gun owner falling afoul of a paper crime deserve to spend a mandatory one or three years in prison?
Of course not. Are licensed gun owners the only ones who could run afoul of this law? No. And many of them don’t deserve to go to jail either.
Lametti’s Overall Stance on Mandatory Minimum Sentences
“The reason the numbers are so high is due, in good part, to current sentencing laws which focus on punishment through imprisonment. At the centre of this approach is the mandatory minimum penalty.”
I agree with the Liberal Minister on this point.
Think lapsed PAL holder receiving three years in prison for the handgun and ammunition that lever left his gun safe.
The Supreme Court hates mandatory minimum sentences because they don’t allow a judge to sentence an individual based on the specifics of their case.
There are always exceptions to the rule for which the mandatory minimum penalty was created and judges must be free to sentence them appropriately.