Conservative MP Parm Gill doesn’t like criminal gangs invading his riding of Brampton-Springdale (in Ontario) and is taking steps to make recruiting gang members a crime punishable by 5 years in prison.
He has introduced a private members bill, Bill C-394, to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act to help reduce the problem.
The bill’s summary reads:
This enactment amends the Criminal Code to make it an offence to recruit, solicit, encourage or invite a person to join a criminal organization. It establishes a penalty for that offence and a more severe penalty for the recruitment of persons who are under 18 years of age. This enactment also makes a related amendment to the National Defence Act.
The relevant section of the proposed Act reads thus:
467.111 Every person who, for the purpose of enhancing the ability of a criminal organization to facilitate or commit an indictable offence under this Act or any other Act of Parliament, recruits, solicits, encourages or invites a person to join a criminal organization, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable,
(a) in the case where the person recruited, solicited, encouraged or invited is under 18 years of age, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
According to a Vancouver Sun story, Parm Gill spent time researching possible solutions to gang recruitment by consulting everyone from police to community groups and teachers before introducing his private members bill.
He went home so disturbed by some of the tactics he was told were used to recruit young people into gangs - members hanging around outside Boys and Girls Clubs, or forcing siblings as young as eight to carry drugs and weapons - that he crafted a private member's bill to try to prevent it from happening.
The Vancouver Sun story also reported that the government supports the bill and will help ensure it is passed.
In February, Gill introduced Bill C-394, the Criminal Organization Recruitment Act, into Parliament which if enacted would make it a crime - punishable by up to five years in jail - to recruit, solicit or encourage anyone to join a gang. This week Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced that the Conservative government would back the bill. The bill had a second reading on Tuesday.
Criminal sanctions probably aren’t as useful a deterrent to gang crime as Mr. Gill wants to believe, though. The threat of jail time hasn’t deterred thousands upon thousands of drug dealers from plying their trade, so the threat of 5 years in prison for recruiting gang members isn’t likely to stop that either.