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Irwin Cotler, MP



Cotler Introduces Bill C-669: the Independence of the Judiciary Act

Posted on April 24, 2015

Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-669, an act to amend the Criminal Code (independence of the judiciary).

He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the independence of the judiciary act, which would ensure that judges have the necessary discretion to impose principled and proportionate sentences tailored to the particularities of individual circumstances, individual offenders, and individual victims.

Everyone in this House seeks to prevent crime and keep Canadians safe. Sometimes, however, measures intended to achieve these laudable objectives, which we all share, turn out to be ineffective, counterproductive, and unjust. Such is unfortunately the case with the government’s ever-increasing reliance on mandatory minimum sentencing provisions.

As the Supreme Court said last week, “Empirical evidence suggests that mandatory minimum sentences do not, in fact, deter crimes.” Instead, they lead to prison overcrowding. They disproportionately impact aboriginals and other minority groups. They increase costs for taxpayers. They may violate the charter, and they are, as one American study put it, a recipe for recidivism.

While the bill would maintain the mandatory minimum sentencing requirement where warranted, it would allow judges to vary mandated sentences where it is deemed just and reasonable to do so, provided they give written reasons for doing so.

It is in the interests of both justice and public safety that the sentence fit the particularities of the crime.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)