Justice minister urges senators to pass Liberal mandatory minimums bill

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OTTAWA — Justice Minister David Lametti urged senators this evening to pass the Liberal government's proposed legislation on mandatory minimum penalties.

He told senators during a committee hearing that he is aware of criticisms the law is "soft on crime," but said serious crimes would continue to have serious consequences.

Bill C-5, which passed third reading in the House of Commons in June, would amend the Criminal Code to remove mandatory minimum prison 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.

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 people in the criminal justice system.

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

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2022.

The Canadian Press