Most law abiding Canadians regardless of political affiliations have little tolerance for swaggering gangsters with loaded handguns endangering the public. Illegal guns need to be taken off the road as well as those wielding them.
That is just what the Harper government was hoping for back in 2013. The Ontario Court of Appeal labeled the law “cruel and unusual punishment” which called for three-year mandatory minimum for a first offence of possessing a loaded gun and five years for a second offence. The federal government then went to the Supreme Court to reverse the decision, arguing that the minimum sentences did not breach charter protection. Evidently the Supreme Court didn’t buy that and tossed it out last week.
Needless to say, this latest setback has not been taken very well by the Conservatives who were hoping for a favorable outcome.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay said the government is reviewing the decision to “determine its impacts and the most appropriate next steps towards protecting Canadians from gun crime and ensuring that our laws remain responsive. Our government will continue to be tough on those who commit serious crimes and endanger our communities,” he said in the statement.
Paul Calandra, MP for Oak Ridges, Markham said he was “very disappointed. “The good thing is that the judges agreed on maintaining the two sentences,” he said referring to Hussein Jama Nur and Sidney Charles, the two men who brought forward the constitutional challenge.
The Supreme Court found that if the minimum three year sentence was upheld, someone who inherited a gun from his uncle but had not yet registered it could find him or herself behind bars for three years. “I am sure a Judge could tell the difference between an innocent gun inheritor and a person who committed a crime using a loaded gun,” said Calandra.
The Bill is expected to be reviewed and worded differently in order to address the concerns raised by the Supreme Court but with just 8 weeks left for the House closes for summer recess and the Fall elections that will follow, there is very little time to work on the revised Bill. “There are so many things on the agenda as well as the important Anti-Terror Bill that needs to be passed. But I am hopeful that we could have it ready before June,” said MP Calandra.