Seeking minimum sentences
Gord Brown's Private Members Bill, prompted
by the Brockville's Moffitt family, seeks mandatory minimum sentences
for crimes committed with knives. Public discussion proves this is an
issue throughout Canada. The Liberals say they will not support minimum
This recent photograph shows, left to right, Conservative MP
Gord Brown, Rod Moffitt Sr., Conservative MP James Bezan, Paulette
Moffitt and Conservative MP and Deputy Leader Peter MacKay with a framed
tribute to Andy Moffitt that hangs in Gord's Ottawa office.
Conservative MP Gord Brown, Rod Moffitt Sr., Conservative MP James Bezan, Paulette Moffitt and Conservative MP and Deputy Leader Peter MacKay
Justice issues on Gord's agenda during latest parliamentary session
Justice issues are playing a role in Gord Brown's parliamentary
agenda. From mandatory minimum sentences for knife crimes to a victims'
ombudsman's office to tougher DNA laws, Gord has been working to see
Canada's justice system helps prevent crime and assists and protects
victims of crime.
The first issue on his agenda is his introduction of a Private
Members Bill that will provide minimum sentences for people who commit
crimes with knives.
The Bill was developed in response to the 1998 murder of Andy
Moffitt, a Brockville native who was stabbed while heroically trying to
break up a fight in Ottawa just before he was to return home for the
Christmas holidays. His killer was sentenced to five years in jail but
became eligible for parole after serving one-third of that sentence.
Andy's parents, Rod and Paulette approached Gord about this issue
during the 2004 election campaign, requesting that he review the case.
It became one of the first issues Gord dealt with upon being elected
in 2004. Since then he has conducted a great deal of research on the topic.
He has found out that police departments across Canada are noting
that more crimes are being committed with knives. People seem to carry
knives because there are no real consequences to using them. Unlike gun
crimes, there are no mandatory minimum sentences for knife assaults.
In April, immediately following a knife murder and a second knife
assault in Kingston, Gord rose in the House of Commons and asked Liberal
Justice Minister Irwin Colter when the government was going to get tough
on people who commit crimes with knives. Cotler responded that the
government will not consider mandatory minimum sentences.
The next day in the House, under further questions from Gord,
Cotler's Parliamentary Assistant Paul Macklin re-iterated that the
Liberals will not support minimum sentences for knife crimes. He stated
that mandatory minimum sentences do not work as a deterrent.
This, according to most legal experts, is not true. Gord is moving
forward with his Private Members Bill and is seeking majority support
from other Members of Parliament.
Introduction of Bill C-393 - First Reading May 17, 2005
An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
MR. GORD BROWN (Leeds & Grenville, PC) moved for leave to introduce
Bill C-393, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and
Conditional Release Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I present today this private member's bill for
which members of my constituency and people all across Canada have been
This act proposes to create mandatory minimum sentences for carrying
a concealed weapon and for manslaughter on an unarmed person inflicted
with a knife that was previously concealed.
The act mandates a reduction in parole eligibility for both offences
and creates a second or subsequent offence for carrying a concealed
weapon, as well as including carrying a concealed weapon as an offence
withing the absolute jurisdiction of a provincial court judge.
The act would also provide direction to sentencing courts with
respect to consideration and calculation of pre-trial custody.
The act provides direction to the National Parole Board with respect
to supplying relevant information to crime victims, asserts the
obligation of the board to not adjourn conditional release hearings
without justification and creates a future conditional release
eligibility consequence for offenders that waive scheduled hearings.
This bill is for ANDY.
Bill C-393 - Second Reading April 11, 2008
You can get a copy of the press release containing Gord's speech from the second reading (in PDF format) here.
Bill C-393 - Voted on June 4, 2008
The bill was voted on in the House of Commons and it passed 140 to 116. The bill is now on its way to committee. Thanks to everyone for their support!