Why the Liberals took the long road to sentencing reform
Shortly after tabling legislation to repeal a number of mandatory minimum sentences — and to allow for more conditional sentences for offenders who don’t pose a threat to the public — Justice Minister David Lametti declared that the Liberal government was “turning the page on a failed Conservative criminal justice policy.” Turning a page on Conservative-era justice policy is no insignificant step, even if it took the Liberals five and a half years to take it. Still, there are other pages that remain unturned… last summer, the scourge of systemic racism came to the fore politically — driven by the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. As part of the Trudeau government’s response, Lametti was charged with taking “action to address systemic inequities in the criminal justice system.” On that note, after announcing a turning of the page on Thursday, Lametti spoke at length about how mandatory minimum sentences contribute to a system that disproportionately punishes black Canadians and Indigenous peoples. The minister also thanked Liberal MP Greg Fergus, chair of the parliamentary black caucus.