Omnibus Crime Bill off Target

OTTAWA -- Today, Elizabeth May,
Member of Parliament for Saanich – Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party
of Canada, will put forward motions in the House of Commons to amend Bill C-10,
with the intention of reining in the omnibus crime legislation’s worst

The Bill, which returns Tuesday to
the House of Commons for debate at Report Stage, reflects strategies evidence
has shown are not effective, and have been thoroughly discredited in every
other jurisdiction in which they have been tried. And although C-10 will
fundamentally alter the Canadian justice system, the government has refused to
allow for meaningful debate in the House.

“In addition to removing judges’
discretion in sentencing and costing Canadian tax-payers billions of dollars to
build the new prisons required to house additional people, Bill C-10 will
disproportionately target already marginalized communities, and create a less
compassionate justice system. These are changes that have not been adequately
debated in the House of Commons,” said May.

“The amendments that I am tabling
today will go a long way towards softening the Bill’s harshest effects. 
This includes handing a measure of control back to our judges by creating
sentencing safety valves, such as removing mandatory minimum sentences for
small quantities of marijuana.  I would also like to see a transparent,
annual review of the changes, so that both legal experts and the general public
can analyze the impacts of C-10 on Canadian society,” May continued.

“Now, more than ever, we must resist
the rush to judgment and contempt; and to punishment and pain. Working
together, with a collective vision, we should ensure that every man, woman and
child in this country is fed, clothed, educated, housed, and able to live to
their full potential, not throw away our values and tax dollars on new laws
that will further victimize and criminalize the most marginalized, poor,
racialized and vulnerable Canadians. Too many women and children are
victimized, criminalized and imprisoned,” says Kim Pate, Executive Director of
the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies. “Jails are not the
shelters battered women and abused children need. Canadians are telling us that
they would rather see their hard-earned tax dollars spent on public housing,
child care, pensions, health care, mental health services, public education,
victims and other social services.”

“Judicial discretion has
traditionally been a central pillar of our justice system.  Judicial discretion allows sentences to
reflect the particular circumstances of the offender, the offence, the
community and the victims.  The Criminal
Lawyers' Association is deeply troubled by the continued erosion of this
discretion.  Mandatory sentences, a one
size fits all solution, inevitably results in unfairness,” said Michael Spratt,
of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association. “The evidence shows mandatory minimum
sentenced do little to prevent crime or make our communities safer.  The Criminal Lawyers' Association welcomes
the amendments as proposed by Ms. May. 
These amendments eliminate many mandatory sentenced, allow Judges the
discretion to impose justice and fair sentences, including conditional sentences.  The proposed amendments reflect evidence as
opposed to ideology.”

“I hope that the government’s
unprecedented use of time-allocation to shut down debate won’t mean that our
proposed changes to the Bill will not be discussed.  This is going to be
the last chance for Members of Parliament to speak for changes to the omnibus
crime bill,” said May. 

“We are going to do everything we
can to draw attention to the fact that this legislation unjustly targets
Canada’s most vulnerable communities, including First Nations and people
suffering from mental illnesses.  It strips away judicial discretion and
removes our traditional emphasis on rehabilitation.  These are basic
principles of the Canadian justice system.  The bill will cost the
Canadian economy countless billions of taxpayers’ dollars for an approach that
even Texas admits doesn’t work.”




Contact Information:
Rebecca Harrison
Press & Communications Officer