Pubdate: Mon, 28 Sep 2015
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Shawn Jeffords
Page: 5


Two of Toronto's former police chiefs squared off over the imposition 
of mandatory prison sentences on criminals.

Conservative cabinet minister Julian Fantino and Liberal candidate 
Bill Blair - both former Toronto police chiefs - exchanged fire 
Sunday about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's declaration that he 
would repeal some mandatory minimum prison sentences if he wins the 
Oct. 19 election. Fantino, who is seeking re-election in the riding 
of Vaughan-Woodbridge, argued that repealing the laws would put the 
rights of criminals above those of victims.

"Those who sexually abuse or provide sexually explicit material to 
children, who sell drugs to children, who operate speed labs or 
commit drive-by shootings, should be held accountable and face 
certain jail time," Fantino insisted during an event at his 
Woodbridge campaign office.

"By repealing mandatory prison sentences, these types of offences may 
mean less or even no jail time for those deplorable and violent criminals."

But Blair, who's running in Scarborough-Southwest, countered no one 
in the Liberal Party is talking about repealing mandatory sentences 
for those guilty of sexual or violent crimes.

"Some mandatory minimums have proven to be unconstitutional and 
aren't based on evidence and aren't based on the constitution and 
fact, but are based more on political calculation and fear," added Blair.

"I'm not inclined at all to criticize any individuals in this 
discussion," he said. "I'd rather respond simply to the issue."

Trudeau said during a television interview that the party has 
concerns about "overuse and quite frankly abuse of mandatory minimums.

"It's the kind of political ploy that makes everyone feel good, 
saying, 'We're going to be tough on these people,' but by removing 
judicial discretion, and by emphasizing mandatory minimums, you're 
actually clogging up our jails for longer periods of time and not 
necessarily making our communities any safer."

Meanwhile, Fantino sparred with reporters during the press 
conference, saying people shouldn't use things like living in poverty 
or other social conditions as a rationale for turning to crime.

"Thank you for asking that question, because I lived in poverty and I 
ended up being a police chief," he said.

"Let's stop making excuses for people who pursue a life of crime. And 
let's get serious about who we should be looking after," he added, 
stressing support for victims.

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The politics of pot:

*Conservative candidate Julian Fantino and Liberal candidate Bill 
Blair - two former Toronto police chiefs - squared off over marijuana Sunday.

* Fantino:

"Justin Trudeau's only criminal justice priority is to change the law 
to allow the sale of marijuana in corner stores, making it more 
accessible to our children."

"Well, that will not work. It will not work in this community, it 
will not work across the land."

* Blair:

"We believe that strict regulation is going to be much more effective 
in achieving our public safety goals which are to keep marijuana away 
from kids, get organized crime out of it, to reduce the violence and 
victimization associated with marijuana use, and to facilitate a more 
robust public health response."

"The evidence is overwhelming that the criminal sanction isn't 
working. Quite frankly, most police services have almost completely 
stopped using it because it isn't working."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom