November 21, 2022
The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (British Columbia) Society (“FACL BC”) is thrilled to recognize that Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, received royal assent on November 17, 2022. Bill C-5 has repealed 20 mandatory minimum sentences and has removed certain restrictions on the imposition of conditional sentence orders, which allow for a term of imprisonment to be served in the community. These amendments will increase judicial discretion in sentencing by repealing provisions that required judges to impose terms of incarceration regardless of the circumstances in which the offense was committed or the characteristics of the individual offender.
FACL BC submitted a brief in support of Bill C-5 to both the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
FACL BC supported Bill C-5 for a number of reasons, including that mandatory minimum sentences and restrictions on conditional sentence orders disproportionately affect racialized communities, especially Indigenous and Black communities with whom FACL BC stands in solidarity. These amendments will allow judges to reserve harsh jail sentences for circumstances in which they are genuinely warranted.