Pubdate: Tue, 17 Mar 2009
Source: Drumheller Valley Times (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Valley Printing & Publishing Ltd.
Author: Kevin Sorenson, (Crowfoot MP)
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 Laws and punishments were outdated 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.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous 
columns you may write to me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, 
T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 
780-608-4603 or e-mail  ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom