MPs pass bill removing mandatory minimum sentences from some criminal offences

·1 min read

OTTAWA — Members of Parliament voted to adopt the Liberal government's proposed legislation on mandatory minimum penalties today, bringing it another step close to becoming law.

Bill C-5, which passed third reading in the House of Commons with a vote of 206 to 117, would amend the Criminal Code to remove mandatory minimum sentences for all drug convictions and for some firearms and tobacco-related offences.

Prosecutors would also be required to consider referring defendants to treatment programs or other support services instead of charging them for simple drug possession offences.

Justice Minister David Lametti has argued the changes, which reverse "tough on crime" measures passed under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, would target the overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system.

Canadian courts have already struck down some mandatory minimum sentences, calling them unconstitutional.

If the bill passes the Senate, it will be Liberals' first major move on the file after promising to review mandatory minimums in 2015.

The Conservatives, and Independent MP Kevin Vuong, voted against the bill at third reading, while the other parties joined with the Liberals to pass it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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