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The Government of Canada remains committed to keeping our streets and communities safe for Canadians and their families. To this end, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently announced the Government’s intention to introduce legislation which would amend Canada’s Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to ensure that Canada’s most heinous criminals would be subject to a mandatory life sentence without parole.
Currently, the mandatory sentence for first degree murder or high treason is life imprisonment with eligibility for parole after 25 years.
The proposed legislation, the Life Means Life Act, would amend the Criminal Code to make a life sentence without parole mandatory for the following crimes:
- First degree murder that is planned and deliberate and that involves:
- sexual assault;
- kidnapping or forcible confinement;
- the killing of police officers or corrections officers;
- or, conduct of a particularly brutal nature.
- High treason.
The proposed bill, the Life Means Life Act, would also give courts the discretion to impose a sentence of life without parole for:
- Any other first degree murder where a sentence of life without parole is not mandatory; and
- Second degree murder where the murderer has previously been convicted of either a murder or an intentional killing under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
To address constitutional concerns, this legislation would permit a criminal serving life without parole to apply to the Minister of Public Safety for exceptional release after serving no less than 35 years. Consistent with the traditional approach to the granting of clemency, decisions on petitions of this kind would rest with the federal Cabinet on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety.
The Life Means Life Act would align Canada’s criminal justice approach with likeminded countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States, and Australia.
These measures build on the numerous measures introduced by the Government of Canada since 2006 to help keep our streets and communities safe for Canadians and their families and to ensure that the rights of victims were brought back to the heart of the criminal justice system including: changes to the faint hope clause that allowed killers to seek early parole, making changes allowing judges to impose consecutive sentences for multiple murders so that each life taken is represented in an offenders sentence, most recently announcing upcoming legislation to end automatic statutory release for violent repeat offenders, introducing Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act, and making changes to the law for those deemed not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder to make the safety of the public paramount.
Department of Justice Canada
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