Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise today to say a few words with respect to the amendment that has been put forward.
The amendment that has been put forward is merely in my view making explicit what was implicit before. The section as it was contained with respect to conditional sentencing stated that conditional sentencing was only allowed where the sentence imposed was less than two years. For those crimes that are more than two years in duration conditional sentencing would not be allowed for such crimes.
In addition it said that conditional sentencing could only be put forward when the judge was satisfied that serving the sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community.
In addition to this the conditions of the principles of sentencing contained in section 718 and 718.2 would also apply to this. What the amendment is doing is making that explicit so that when cases are brought before the judiciary it is right there, that the principles of sentencing apply.
It would be very instructive to read the principles of sentencing that would apply to the application of the conditional sentence. Section 718 states:
The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:
(a) to denounce unlawful conduct;
(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;
(c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;
(d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders;
(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or the community;
(f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and communities.
These are the principles that apply to a conditional sentence. While it was implicit before it is explicit now that these principles apply to conditional sentencing. Conditional sentences ought only to be put forward in appropriate cases.
The provincial governments and the federal government worked together to develop a bill that would better ensure the safety of citizens in our society. They wished to ensure that people who posed a risk to the community would not be allowed to be released from prison to offend again.
Those who did not pose a risk to society would be free to serve their sentence in the community subject to appropriate conditions. If those conditions were breached they would then serve the rest of their sentence in a correctional facility.
I think it is very important to recognize that this is a clarification of the code to ensure that conditional sentences are only applied in those circumstances where there is no danger to society and where the principles of sentencing, of deterrents of denunciation of the crime are appropriately applied.
The reason for this is due to the experience of many in the justice system prior to these amendments. There were many cases where people who had committed crimes did go to jail. However, because of the overcrowding of the facilities and because many people who were there were not a risk to society, the people who were a risk to society would be released into the community after serving a very short time in prison.
Therefore the federal and provincial governments working together developed this solution which will better ensure that those who are a risk to society will be kept in prison longer and for an appropriate length of time. Those who do not pose a risk to society will be able to serve their sentence within the community.
It is as a result of these amendments that as we move into the future this clarification that we have brought forward today will ensure that conditional sentencing is only applied in appropriate cases.