Thursday, March 10, 2011

Protest against Bill C-15 at Old City Hall

There was a small group of people at Toronto's Old City Hall/ Courthouse protesting in the rain against Bill C-15 which would introduce mandatory minimum sentences penalties for drugs. It is interesting to note that the government studies show that almost 45% of Canadians have tried cannabis in their lifetime.
Bill C-15 information from the Parliament of Canada website: "Its intention is to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act(1) (CDSA) to provide for minimum penalties for serious drug offences, such as dealing drugs for organized crime purposes or when a weapon or violence is involved.  Currently, there are no mandatory minimum penalties under the CDSA.  The bill also increases the maximum penalty for cannabis (marihuana) production and reschedules certain substances from Schedule III of the Act to Schedule I."

They also provide some of the potential downside of the bill which include "Much of the negative reaction to the measures in Bill C-15 centres on opposition to the expansion in the use of mandatory minimum sentences.  Mark Ertel, president of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, has said that the measures would strip judges of the ability to apply discretion for mitigating circumstances and could turn Canadian correctional institutions and penitentiaries into US-style inmate warehouses.(72)  Mr. Ertel argues that automatic jail sentences, with no allowance for mitigating considerations, will inevitably prompt the kind of appeal that led to a 1987 Supreme Court of Canada decision (R. v. Smith) striking down a seven‑year mandatory-minimum sentence under the now-repealed Narcotic Control Act as cruel and unusual punishment.  He also argues that the bill targets the wrong problem as almost all violent crime is alcohol-related, yet liquor manufacturers will not be prosecuted.(73)"
Also "Some opponents of the mandatory sentencing that is a feature of Bill C-15 have noted that the increase in costs to operate prisons will draw funds away from social programs, like those addressing improved education, health care and child poverty, which reduce crime.(74)  Incarceration is seen as poor stewardship of both money and human resources." This is interesting because this is what the protesters were pushing - the economic cost of the proposed Bill, while the homeless sitting right beside the protest were uninterested in the event. The nearby pigeons (below) hid from the rain and also seemed to care less about pretty much everything - damn flying poop machines.

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