Mr. Speaker, there were a couple of places in my remarks where I talked about the inability of judges to express themselves. One of those is when people read cases in a newspaper, the judges speak from their judgments and decisions. They do not explain their decisions afterward. They do not discuss them or give interviews or anything like that. Therefore, the work of judges is inside the law, based on the facts, and utilizing their discretion on the facts.
What the member is referring to, which was in another part of my speech, is the fact that there seems to be legislation coming forward that limits the ability of judges to exercise discretion, for instance, on conditional sentencing, or takes away the option of the judicial tool that is currently before them with certain offences that are listed. This will go to committee and we will deal with that through amendment, hopefully.
Specifically, the member talked about the mandatory minimums. Mandatory minimum sentences are where Parliament has provided in the Criminal Code a floor that it expects the judge in a case to start from in the sentencing. The floor is not a maximum. It is not a ceiling. It is a minimum.
Therefore, historically, mandatory minimums in the Criminal Code, and there are currently about 42 of them, have been used with restraint in both the volume inside the Criminal Code. However, in the courtrooms, judges have used that floor. They have the discretion, based on both extenuating circumstances and mitigating factors, to go up or down from that floor. That is how judges act in a courtroom. They use that discretion.
What these two bills do is limit the discretion. It is more like setting up a grid system. For x offence, there is a mandatory minimum. Some of the mandatory minimums in Bill C-10, for example, are 10 years and so the floor is supposed to be 10 years. Yet we know in this country that the Supreme Court of Canada, on certain offences, has ruled seven year mandatory minimums unconstitutional.
There is a real concern about those types of bills coming forward, but in Bill C-17 we should really focus on the judicial compensation and getting through this in an orderly and professional manner in the House without negative political interference.