Mr. Speaker, I have only two and a half minutes left for my speech on Bill C-5. The point I want to emphasize to the House is this: There is a middle ground.
We have talked about what the government wishes to accomplish and we have considered how the government should go about accomplishing it. What I would propose and have proposed is to add a mechanism to this law that would allow mandatory minimums to remain in place but make an exception, by way of an exceptional circumstances provision, for somebody who represents a group that is overrepresented in the justice system or has had a life-changing event. This would enable the government to maintain mandatory minimum sentences, but in exceptional circumstances they would not apply.
This would do exactly what my counterparts on the other side of the House have advocated. It would allow for judicial discretion where necessary, but would still communicate to the public that gun offences will be taken seriously and that things like robbery with a firearm, extortion with a firearm and reckless discharge, as in a drive-by shooting, would still result in a substantial sentence, absent very significant circumstances.
Such a provision would be constitutional, and it is my belief that it would strike an appropriate middle ground. I wish the government had done the same in this circumstance; it did not, and I exhort the government to do so in the future.