I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the points made in the editorial published in the Red Deer Advocate on Aug. 30, regarding mandatory minimum penalties (MMPs) in Canada.
MMPs have a long history in Canada. For the first 50 years of the Canadian Criminal Code, the offences that typically carried an MMP were focused on maintaining the legitimacy of public institutions (e.g. stealing mail, corruption in municipal affairs). Over the last 100 years, this focus has changed to offences against the person.
Today, the Criminal Code contains over 40 offences that carry a mandatory minimum sentence. Our government has added to this list, specifically increasing penalties for impaired driving, serious firearms offences, fraud, and serious property offences. We will continue in our efforts to establish MMPs for sexual offences against children and serious drug offences.
It is the role of Parliament to draft and enact laws that reflect the values of the citizens who elected them. It is our role to give guidance to the judiciary on maximum penalties, as well as on minimum penalties. For certain offences, our government firmly believes that a minimum period of incarceration is justified.
Canadians lose faith in the criminal justice system when they feel that the punishment does not fit the crime. Our balanced approach respects the rights of the accused, but does not allow their rights to take precedence over community safety, the rights of victims and law-abiding Canadians.
Our government will to continue our work to better protect Canadians so that our communities are safe places for people to live, raise their families and do business.
Rob Nicholson, M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada