June 5th, 2018

NDP to Introduce Bill on Mandatory Minimum Sentences

OTTAWA – This morning, Sheri Benson, MP for Saskatoon West, introduced a bill drafted in collaboration with students that seeks to restore the independence of the judiciary by allowing trial judges to deviate from mandatory minimum sentences. The bill will give trial judges greater discretion in sentencing as long as they provide valid reasoning. The bill is also in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #32, which calls "upon the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow trial judges, upon giving reasons, to depart from mandatory minimum sentences and restrictions on the use of conditional sentences."

“This change aligns with the NDP’s goals for reforming the criminal justice system, which includes recognizing the rights of the accused, providing judicial discretion, and eliminating practices that contribute to significant court delays and over representation of Indigenous peoples in our jails.” said Benson.

Uniquely, this piece of legislation was proposed by two students from Benson’s riding of Saskatoon West, where she launched Create Your Canada, a competition in which students came up with ideas to solve a national problem. The winners, Brody Bueker and Camilo Silva, are 12th grade students who attend Bethlehem High School in Saskatoon. When asked about what the opportunity has meant to each student, Silva responded, “It’s been amazing to be a part of this whole process that started with our own idea.”

“We decided to solve a problem we care about, and it’s exciting to be supported by our Member of Parliament“, added Bueker.
“The practice of mandatory minimum sentencing limits judges’ discretion and congests our court system. The Liberals have been promising to fix this for over two years: I commend my colleague on trying to get the job done.” added NDP Justice Critic Murray Rankin.