Canada

LILLEY: Liberals to trigger drop in jail time for serious gun crimes

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On Tuesday afternoon, Liberal Justice Minister David Lametti will hold a news conference on Parliament Hill detailing the Trudeau government’s position on reducing sentences for a number of crimes, including gun offences.

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Remarkably, Lametti will do this one day after his government boasted repeatedly of their commitment to ending gun violence on the anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre.

Lametti is scheduled to introduce legislation to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which will mostly be described as reducing sentences for drug crimes. The bill is expected to be a replica of C-22, which was introduced to the House of Commons last February, but never passed.

When introducing C-22, Lametti said that this was about making sure that people did not pay for small mistakes for the rest of their lives.

“These are people with health problems. These are single mothers. These are young people who perhaps have made a couple of mistakes,” Lametti said.

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It’s a sentiment that will ring true to any of us who remember being young and foolish and may have sympathy for people making small mistakes today.

That’s not what Bill C-22 was, however.

The bill was an attempt to put ideology ahead of public safety. While courts have struck down many mandatory minimum sentences as unconstitutional, no court in Canada has said that all mandatory minimums are unconstitutional.

The Liberals were using C-22 to chisel away at public safety measures by eliminating mandatory minimums for repeat gun offences.

C-22 sought the removal of mandatory minimums for knowingly possessing an illegal firearm.

Right now, there is no mandatory minimum on someone’s first offence for that charge, a minimum of one year on a second offence and a minimum of three years on a third offence.

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By the time someone has been arrested, tried and convicted three times for possessing an illegal firearm, we are well past the realm of youthful mistakes.

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If the new bill follows the path of C-22, then the Liberal government will also seek to remove the one-year mandatory minimum sentence for charges related to smuggling and trafficking in illegal guns. The gun violence problem in this country is driven by smuggled guns, and the government should be using every tool possible — including the Criminal Code — to deal with this issue.

In the past, the Liberals have promised to end mandatory minimums for possession of weapon obtained through crime, robbery with firearm, and extortion with a firearm.

Does this jive with the display they put on in the House of Commons on Monday as the Liberals used the 32nd anniversary of Ecole Polytechnique as a political prop?

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“We will continue to take steps to strengthen gun control measures, remove dangerous weapons from our streets,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

Removing dangerous weapons means locking up those who would smuggle them, sell them to minors or gang members, and convicting and incarcerating those who would use them in our streets. That, though, would require getting tough on criminals, something Justin Trudeau doesn’t want to do.

In 1977, then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau responded to public outrage of firearms being used in crimes to establish Canada’s first mandatory minimums for using a gun in the commission of a crime. Now his son is seeking to do away with even that.

Justin Trudeau should be putting the public and victims of crime first, not worrying about repeat offenders who run around town using guns to commit crimes, spread mayhem, and kill our fellow citizens.

Sadly, I don’t expect that to be the case when the bill is unveiled on Tuesday.

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