Pubdate: Wed, 4 Mar 2009
Source: Penticton Western (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 Penticton Western
Author: Stockwell Day
Note: Stockwell Day is the member of Parliament for Okanagan Coquihalla.
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


No jobs in sight, real estate not moving, banks tight on credit and
people being laid off. That was the situation 100 years ago in 1909
when the Town of Peachland was officially founded. We celebrated that
event last Saturday in Peachland's Museum. Chris Scowen and the others
on the Centennial Committee have been working and planning for months
to make sure that Peachland 2009 will be a Centennial worth
remembering. It is more than worth remembering; it is imperative that
we recall and reflect on where we came from, what our forbearers had
to deal with and how they overcame their obstacles.

It has been famously said that if we forget the lessons of our past we
won't know how to achieve our hopes for the future. With everything
that Peachland is doing to revive the memory of those bold pioneers
who faced formidable challenges I'd say things don't look too bad.
Check out the events and ceremonies they have planned all year long
and you may get the feeling that maybe your future is looking alright
after all.

Now, back to the future, we tabled some needed crime bills in
Parliament this week. We are taking a step-by-step approach in dealing
with somewhat of a plague of serious crime issues in B.C. and across
Canada. This week, Prime Minister Harper came to Vancouver to meet
with representatives from criminal justice sectors including a wide
cross section of police chiefs and officers. He got first hand, up to
date exposure to the facts relating to gangs, guns and the underworld
of drugs. He also had a chance to get feedback and advice on our
overall strategy of prevention, treatment and enforcement.

The following day I was with the federal minister of justice as we
announced two new bills which require mandatory jail terms for serious
drug offences related to the manufacture and distribution
(trafficking) of all types of drugs. We have been hearing ongoing
concerns related to the numbers of serious offenders who wind up in
court and too often find their way back on the streets with little (or
sometimes zero) time in jail. By legislating what is called a
'mandatory minimum' we are not saying a criminal should get a minimum
sentence. We are giving guidance to the judiciary saying that for that
type of crime the perpetrator should not walk free. They must get at
least a certain amount of time behind bars.

Keep in mind that sentences of less than two years generally lands the
offender in provincial jail, where they may not get access to
programs, however sentences over two years usually means they will
have access to programs and treatments in a federal facility. So it's
not all about punishment. We do want criminals to have the opportunity
for betterment. But our first priority has to be the protection of our
citizens. That's why mandatory sentencing is necessary. The first
thing we need to do is to get the serious offenders off of our streets.

I often am asked how long it will take to get this legislation through
Parliament. I reply that depends a lot on how the opposition responds
to it. In a democracy, legislation should face scrutiny and amendments
can improve it. Of concern however is the past performance of the
federal Liberals and NDP on our crime bills. They have tended to delay
and dilute many of our measures to deal with a variety of serious
crime issues. I am hoping they take a responsible approach this time
around. I will keep you posted on progress.

On a happier note, are you looking for some great entertainment at a
very reasonable cost? Then check out the ongoing playoff games which
our Penticton Vees and Westside Warriors are engaged in. Good, fast
aggressive hockey skills with young guys who are playing with heart
and determination. And talking about knowing what the future holds,
you'll be impressed when you find out where many of these young
athletes are headed. A number of them have already been tapped as
future NHL stars. And you'll also be impressed when you find out how
many have secured full scholarships to universities all over North

So, catch the action before it's too late. You'll be glad you
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake