One of the matters that federal lawmakers must consider in their jobs is how to manage national-level criminal justice issues. One of the criminal law concerns that has been discussed recently is a possible revision of mandatory minimum sentences. An independent senator from Ontario has announced plans to introduce new legislation regarding this topic.
The Ontario senator announced she would present legislation that would give judges an increased ability to determine whether minimum sentencing is appropriate in a given case. The senator believes that judges are in the best position to determine whether the minimum should be applied. The announcement was made as Canada's Justice Minister continues the task of reviewing controversial sentencing reforms passed by the previous government.
Many of the criminal law reforms under review involve imposing or increasing mandatory minimum sentences. Critics say these rules prevent judges from doing their job and using their own discretion in cases where it is necessary. The current government has considered overhauling mandatory minimum sentences altogether, but it pushed the timeline back before introducing Bill C-75. This bill addresses multiple issues in the criminal justice system but does not offer changes to mandatory minimum penalties.
According to Canada's Justice Department, 68 percent of court challenges under the Criminal Codeand the Controlled Drugs and Substances Actare related to mandatory minimum penalties. The federal government must currently decide whether to intervene in Supreme Court cases related to these mandatory minimum penalties. Those facing challenges in the criminal law arena should contact an Ontario lawyer to better understand their possible defences and consequences.
Source: CTV News, "Ontario senator will introduce bill to change mandatory minimum penalties", Joanna Smith, April 10, 2018