A Lacombe man says MP Blaine Calkins isn’t telling the whole truth when he claims that the Liberal government wants to eliminate minimum mandatory prison sentences for gun-related crimes.
Jim Kimmel, of Lacombe, said a bulletin for constituents mailed out by the Red Deer – Lacombe MP says Bill C-22 eliminates mandatory prison time for robbery with a firearm, extortion with a firearm, weapons trafficking, discharging a firearm with intent, and using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
But Kimmel said information on the Government of Canada’s website Bill C-22: Mandatory Minimum Penalties to be repealed shows mandatory minimum penalties will be maintained for some of those offences to address trafficking and smuggling of firearms and gang-related violence.
“For someone who hasn’t done any research, they would go, ‘the Liberals are eliminating all these sentences.’ It’s very misleading, and I believe untrue,” Kimmel said.
The government website said: “The reforms to mandatory minimum penalties being proposed only apply to certain offences, and do not limit the ability of a judge to impose a sentence of imprisonment, particularly where doing so is necessary to protect the safety of the public.”
Calkins said everyone has their own opinion, but Bill C-22 definitely eliminates minimum penalties for some dangerous gun crimes.
“My constituents have the right to know this. It gives the judge total discretion, from zero days in jail up to the maximum,” Calkins said.
“I’m not saying that the only solution to reducing crime in a community is to put people in jail. But it certainly is the solution for certain people.”
He said the federal government is also eliminating mandatory prison sentences for drug crimes, including drug trafficking and the production of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and crystal meth.
“I’m not making this stuff up. It’s definitely happening,” Calkins said.
Kimmel encouraged people to read the federal government’s information which includes background on why some minimum penalties were going to be eliminated.
“Existing sentencing policies have focused on punishment through imprisonment, and they disproportionately affect Indigenous peoples, as well as Black and marginalized Canadians,” the government website said.
“Mandatory minimum penalties have also resulted in longer and more complex trials and a decrease in guilty pleas, which has compounded the impact for victims, who are more often required to testify.”