In December, the Liberals introduced Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This legislation is the same as Bill C-22 in the last parliament. The bill eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for a number of offences. These are primarily related to gun crime. The bill also allows for greater use of conditional sentencing orders, such as house arrest, for several offences where the offender faces a term of less than two years of imprisonment.
Bill C-5 also adds to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a set of principles that peace officers and prosecutors should use when determining whether to lay charges for possession. Peace officers already had the flexibility to do this. A directive from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada was previously issued to prosecutors instructing them to avoid prosecuting simple drug possession cases unless there are major public safety concerns.
Conservatives believe that serious, violent offences that are committed with firearms deserve mandatory prison time. It’s shameful that the Liberals think we should be weakening firearms laws in Canada, including robbery with a firearm, discharging a firearm with intent to harm, and weapons trafficking. The legislation also allows criminals to serve house arrest rather than jail time for multiple offences including sexual assault, human trafficking for material benefit, and kidnapping. There are serious concerns with this proposal as this bill is soft on crime and puts communities and victims at risk.