'Mandatory minimum' bill would be welcome: Friedberg

Apr 18, 2018 By Matthew Friedberg

OTTAWA — An Ontario senator tired of waiting for the Liberals to bring in their promised changes to mandatory minimum penalties while they watch how they fare in the courts, is now prepared to go it alone.Independent Sen. Kim Pate said she plans to introduce legislation that would allow judges to decide whether they should impose mandatory minimum penalties on offenders at sentencing time.

"They are in the best position to determine: is this an appropriate place for the application of the mandatory minimum penalty?'' said Pate, who was a longtime advocate for the rights of prisoners before she was named to the Senate in November 2016.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould with reviewing the controversial sentencing reforms the previous Conservative government brought in as part of their tough-on-crime agenda.Many of those changes involved imposing or increasing mandatory minimum penalties for dozens of offences — a measure critics say prevents judges from being able to use their discretion when necessary. The Supreme Court has already struck down two of them.


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