32. We call upon the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow trial judges, upon giving reasons, to depart from mandatory minimum sentences and restrictions on the use of conditional sentences.
The Conservative government of Canada has proven again and again its insensitivity towards minority groups and their respective needs, before being replaced by the Liberals, their tough-on-crime mentality brought up the minimum sentencing for many crimes. Particularly for minor crimes or incidents that may conflict with the traditional values of indigenous populations, the use of mandatory sentencing as an aid for society is extremely redundant. Judges that are imposed with minimum sentencing restrictions will not be able to address the factors leading to the case in their court to make a sound decision, further disenfranchising already struggling communities with solid legal barriers.
Due to the influence of discrimination and disenfranchisement causing indigenous youth to become more susceptible to criminal behavior, the over-representation of indigenous peoples in Canadian prison systems will worsen. Furthermore, this takes away from their cultures autonomy to determine the suitable punishment for crimes, and take away opportunities for growth that include community-oriented interventions such as Healing Circles or Cultural Skills. Vulnerable populations should be helped, rather than hindered, by this country’s judicial processes and the judges doing so must be able to exercise their own logic in determining sentencing.