St. Albert MP Michael Cooper is advocating that the government increase mandatory minimum sentences for impaired drivers.

Cooper, who has been pushing for changes to Bill C-46, known as an Act to amend the Criminal Code, wants to see meaningful mandatory minimums introduced when it comes to serious impaired driving offences. The bill is a large piece of legislation which will alter many aspects of the Criminal Code.

“Unfortunately Bill C-46 misses the mark when it comes to holding individuals who make the choice to drink, drive and kill, accountable. It misses the mark in holding impaired drivers accountable,” Cooper said.

Right now the mandatory minimum sentence for the first offence of impaired driving causing death is a fine of $1,000. The new legislation introduces longer maximum sentences and higher fines for minimum sentences but does not impose any mandatory minimum jail time.

The bill raises the maximum for impaired driving causing bodily harm from ten to 14 years, but Cooper said that while he approves of the increase, nobody convicted of the offence ever receives the maximum sentence.

“There simply is no justice when people who make the choice to drink, drive and kill receive a slap on the wrist,” Cooper said.

Cooper launched an electronic petition in October along with Sheri Arsenault, a Beaumont mother who lost her 18-year-old son Bradley to an impaired driver in 2011. In the four months the petition was open a total of 4,456 Canadians signed to express their desire for stronger minimum sentences for impaired drivers.

“It is the families of victims who have been calling for changes,” the MP said.

In the past the Conservative government attempted to increase mandatory minimum sentences but were voted out before they could pass the legislation.

In June 2015 then-Justice Minister Peter MacKay introduced legislation that would amend the Criminal Code to toughen up the mandatory minimum sentences. The proposed legislation would have put those convicted in prison for six years. The bill was tabled in the summer and the Conservatives went on to lose the election in the fall before the proposed legislation could pass.

Since then the Liberal government introduced C-46 to make its own amendments to the impaired driving laws in the Criminal Code.

The bill is currently before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Cooper said that Conservative Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu plans to introduce amendments to the bill, including tougher minimum sentences.

Cooper said that he is not optimistic that the new amendments will earn the support of the current Liberal government.

“Just because the government isn’t prepared to act doesn’t mean it isn’t worth raising, that it isn’t worth putting the question to the government to support these changes because these changes need to happen.”

Source: St Albert Gazette


Last updated on: 2018-04-09 | Link to this post