Xtra
2 min

Striking down mandatory minimums

The discussions on the omnibus crime bill
over in the Senate are about to get a hell of a lot more interesting after an
Ontario judge ruled that mandatory minimum sentences are unconstitutional,
because the removal of judicial discretion means that said mandatory minimum
may in effect mean cruel and unusual punishment for certain crimes. This is not
the first time the courts have ruled against mandatory minimums, and it
seems this gives plenty of new fodder for senators to consider in their
ongoing deliberations on the bill. Granted, the Conservative majority means
it will likely pass with little change, but there will be plenty of new
objection on the record and likely footholds for future court decisions to
strike down the provision of mandatory minimums going forward.

Over in the NDP leadership race, Jack
Layton’s mother has now endorsed Brian Topp, while the Paul Dewar-Peggy Nash exchange over healthcare user fees is getting more scrutiny, forcing Nash
to later send out a statement of clarification. Paul Dewar decided it was time to
engage in some “shock and awe” tactics and released a favourable poll to the
media to show that he’s got momentum – no matter that the methodology was
entirely flawed and dubious. Because this race is all about doing politics
differently. But wait – then Brian Topp released his own polling numbers, and
he’s ahead! All of which goes to show that it’s only the debates
that are boring, not the race itself.

While I’m not a fan of the primary system,
here is an extrapolated version of how such a race might have played out for
the NDP leadership.

Amidst the pensions debate, it looks like
our MP pensions aren’t as “gold-plated” as those of officials in the US or the
UK – or even executive compensation in the private sector, for that matter.

The Federal Court smacked down Vic Toews
again over his refusal to allow a Canadian to serve his sentence in Canada,
despite not being a danger to public safety and despite the fact that he has
bipolar disorder and needs proper medication and attention, which he’s not
getting in the States.

There is a procedural filibuster taking
place in the official languages committee that's designed to keep the government from moving committee business back in camera,
and out of the public eye.

Due to return to QP today – the ozone
issue, thanks to more warnings about what happens if we do end up cutting out
monitoring programs.

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