As the government’s Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) makes its way through the House of Commons, opposition members and pundits alike have been weighing in on the legislation.
Unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation is being disseminated which often stretches the bounds of common sense.
For instance, the statement that a grow-your-own pothead with just six plants would get a longer sentence than a pedophile who exposes himself to a kid in a playground is not only a flawed interpretation of C-10, it fails to acknowledge the gravity our society, through the courts, places on child exploitation.
Through C-10, the government has introduced mandatory minimums of 6 months for those who grow 6 plants of marijuana if the production is for the purposes of trafficking. The aspect of trafficking is the main concern in this regard, especially as it relates to helping law enforcement fight the flow of illegal drugs sold to youth or associated with the funding of organized crime.
In terms of child exploitation and pedophilia, C-10 creates minimum sentences which currently don’t exist and increases current minimum and maximum penalties that already exist.
Critics of the legislation will continue to characterize the government’s approach to law and order as punitive rather than preventive and lacking in compassion for marginalized people in our society. I disagree and encourage you to consider the objectives of the legislation before you accept this view.
Anyone wishing to access the full text of the Safe Streets and Communities Act can do so at www.parl.gc.ca by following the “Bills” link on the main page. There you will also find excellent summaries by the non-partisan Library of Parliament which provide information on the current law and what is being proposed under C-10.
Our laws, including those proposed in C-10, provide support for law enforcement and our courts in determining appropriate actions and punishment when those laws are broken. The latitude for the courts to apply the law fairly and compassionately remains.
Additionally, nothing in C-10 prevents a continued focus on prevention and rehabilitation and addressing the root causes of crime including mental health, homelessness, poverty or addiction.
The federal government continues to support rehabilitation and treatment programs through the National Drug Strategy which also places an emphasis on prevention and education.
Our government is keeping its commitment to Canadians to improve the overall efficiency of our judicial system while finding the appropriate balance between criminals and victims. The Safe Streets and Communities Act clearly communicates that those who commit serious crimes will be held fully accountable for their actions and that the safety and security of law-abiding Canadians and victims comes first.
There are very few of us, I suspect, who fail to see the common sense in that.
I appreciate any feedback you wish to share with me. If you have questions or comments on matters relating to C-10 or any issue before the federal government, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country.