OTTAWA – Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament for Vegreville-Wainwright, was very pleased to see Bill C-10 finally move on to third reading in the House of Commons. “This bill mainly targets organized crime and gangs and by imposing tougher mandatory penalties on those who use a firearm to commit crimes,” explains Benoit. “The Opposition has, for some reason, continued to oppose this bill and has worked to gut it, but this Conservative government was determined to see it move ahead in order to protect Canadians.”
Benoit points out that C-10 is a key element in Canada’s new Government’s comprehensive justice legislative agenda. “During the last election we promised to protect Canadian families and make communities safer by cracking down on guns, gangs and drugs,” states Benoit. “This is one more example of our commitment to do just that.”
After being repeatedly stalled by the Liberals in the House of Commons, C-10 is finally making legislative progress and heading towards the Senate. In their 2006 Platform, the Liberals told Canadians they would double the mandatory sentences for serious gun-related crimes. Yet, they have delayed the passage of C-10 in the House of Commons at every opportunity. “Liberal MPs such as Stéphane Dion, Marlene Jennings, Ralph Goodale, Belinda Stronach and Ruby Dhalla have all stood in the House and argued against imposed tougher penalties,” reveals Benoit.
C-10 will toughen sentences for serious gun offences for both “use” offences and “non-use” offences involving: attempted murder; discharging a firearm with intent; sexual and aggravated assault; kidnapping; hostage taking; robbery and extortion. The legislation originally proposed a five-year mandatory penalty for a first conviction; 7 years for a second conviction; and 10 years for a third and subsequent conviction. As amended, the bill now proposes a minimum penalty of five years on a first offence and 7 years on a second or subsequent offence. Without the passage of C-10 the penalty for these gun crimes will remain at only four years, regardless of the number of previous convictions.
“I look forward to seeing C-10 become law,” continues Benoit. “However I am concerned by the Senate’s record of stalling government bills. Our Conservative government will continue to work to see that C-10 receives Royal Assent, to ensure that our law enforcement personnel have the ability to keep repeat offenders, such as members of gangs and organized crime, off our streets.”
Since taking office, Canada's New Government has brought forward 12 justice bills, including legislation to restrict conditional sentences, to better fight alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, to create tougher laws against street racing, and to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years to protect youth from adult sexual predators. Despite repeated efforts to move this legislation through the House of Commons, thus far, only two bills have become law. “I urge Opposition members to stop playing political games and pass the outstanding pieces of legislation to protect our streets and communities and build a stronger, safer, better Canada,” concludes Benoit.