question period — Justice

Mandatory Minimum Penalties

March 30, 2021


Senator Gold, turning the page to criminal justice reform, in his speech in the other place, Minister Lametti characterized Bill C-22 as responding to the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and to the Parliamentary Black Caucus. These bodies called on the government to address all mandatory minimum penalties, notwithstanding that Bill C-22 repeals only a handful of mandatory minimum penalties.

Will the government amend Bill C-22 to ensure that judges have the discretion to not apply a mandatory minimum penalty in appropriate circumstances?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)

Thank you for raising this issue, colleague. As you point out, Bill C-22 targets mandatory minimum penalties, including all six under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act specifically known to contribute to the overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black Canadians in the justice system. In particular, it targets lower risk and first-time offenders. As the Minister of Justice has also stated, it’s important to see Bill C-22 in connection with the other efforts across government to root out systemic racism and ensure a more effective justice system for all.