September 21, 1994 For Immediate Release


Garry Breitkreuz, MP for Yorkton-Melville challenged the Minister of Justice in the House of Commons while responding to the Liberal government Sentencing Bill C-41 saying, "The Liberals have been talking about gun control for months now, and the first chance they get to do something about the criminal use of guns they miss their chance." Breitkreuz called for three amendments to the bill. The first, to increase the minimum, mandatory sentence for using a firearm during a crime from one year to three years. The second, proposing to change Section 85 of the Criminal Code to include minimum, mandatory jail terms for persons who use any weapon during the commission of a crime. And a third amendment, which would allow victims or their relatives to appear and give evidence during Section 745 early parole hearings - a Liberal loop-hole which allows murderers sentenced to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole to get out of jail after serving just fifteen years of their sentence. "Unfortunately, the Liberals are still more interested in the rights of criminals than the rights of the victims of crime," said a disappointed Breitkreuz.

He pointed out to Parliament that in a 1991/92 study by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics that there were 12,287 convictions for violent crimes.[Manslaughter(93), Robbery(2,181), Sexual Assault with a weapon(94), Assault with a weapon(5,787), Careless/Dangerous use of a firearm(2,130), Possession of a firearm/weapon(2,022)] Of these 12,287 convictions for violent crimes there were only 52 convictions under Section 85 of the Criminal Code for using a firearm during the commission of an indictable offence. Breitkreuz explained, "While we don't know how many of these 12,287 convictions actually involved the use of firearms we do know it had to be a lot more than 52 times, proof-positive that Section 85 is not being used enough by police. The minimum sentence under Section 85 is one year and the maximum is 14 years. In all 52 convictions under Section 85, they all received the minimum sentence of just one year in jail! If judges persist in sentencing criminals who use guns to the minimum time in jail, then Parliament must act to increase the minimum, mandatory sentence to three years," he demanded.

Breitkreuz concluded, "After reading Bill C-41, I could not help but conclude that it is a make-work project for lawyers. There seems to be more focus on bureaucratic procedures than imposing sentences that act as a real deterrent to those who would consider committing a crime."


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