Pubdate: Tue, 17 Mar 2009
Source: Rocky View Weekly (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Tall Taylor Publishing Ltd
Author: Kevin Sorenson, Member of Parliament for Crowfoot
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)


Hard-working Canadians in our constituency, focusing on the 
challenges their families face during the global economic crisis, 
have been distracted by recent examples of extreme gang violence in 
British Columbia.

This has come as a stark reminder that the safety of our communities 
requires constant vigilance.

During my years serving as an Official Opposition critic for the 
Justice, Public Safety and Solicitor General portfolios, I asked many 
questions in the House of Commons and in committees about the lax 
attitude of the Liberals that, over more than a decade, allowed 
Canada's justice system to decline. Police forces were underfunded. 
Laws and punishments were outdated and did not fit the crimes being committed.

Since forming government in 2006, our Conservative government has 
tried to strengthen Canada's criminal justice system to better 
protect and serve Canadian individuals and businesses. We delivered 
1,500 new RCMP officers and are working with the provinces and 
municipalities towards hiring 2,500 new municipal police officers. We 
have already passed laws providing mandatory minimum sentences for 
gun crimes; tougher laws to keep gun criminals off the streets and 
tougher sentences for repeat violent offenders. Many of you will 
recall the long battle we had with the Liberals to pass our Tackling 
Violent Crime Act that became law early last year.

Our Government continues to introduce new tools to fight street gangs 
and other forms of organized crime. Bill 14, an Act to Amend the 
Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system 
participants) targets gang violence and other serious crime. It will 
provide law enforcement officials and the justice system with better 
means to address organized crime-related activities, in particular 
gang murders and drive-by shootings.

If passed by Parliament, our proposals will make murders connected to 
organized crime activity automatically first-degree; create a new 
offence to address drive-by and other reckless shootings; and, create 
two new offences of aggravated assault against a peace or public 
officer and assault with a weapon on a peace or public officer. Each 
of these measures includes longer incarceration times.

Bill C-15 proposes amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances 
Act and would impose mandatory jail time for producing and selling 
illegal drugs. This Bill allows us to fight back by targeting the 
drug crimes committed by gangs and organized crime. We are 
establishing special penalties when offences are carried out for 
organized crime purposes or if they target youth.

At the same time, Bill C-15 allows a Drug Treatment Court to suspend 
a sentence while the addicted accused person takes an approved 
treatment program. If the person successfully completes the program, 
the court normally imposes a suspended or reduced sentence. These 
courts include a blend of judicial supervision, incentives for 
reduced drug use, social services support, and sanctions for non-compliance.

No part of our society is immune to the menace of organized crime 
activities. Members of families and communities have to cope with the 
lethal impact of illicit drugs. Even in our own province we have seen 
serious and violent gang, gun and drug related criminal activity in 
Calgary and Edmonton. The effects creep into our constituency. Our 
Conservative government remains committed to providing tough laws to 
make our streets and communities more secure by going after the criminals.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom