I will speak to that really quickly.
For this section of the code, what our amendment would do, again, is replace the one-year mandatory minimum with a six-month mandatory minimum.
Mr. Cooper reminded me of something that I think is important that I put on the record. In no way, shape or form would I want anyone to think that I think the mandatory minimum should be reduced in these serious firearms cases. What we're attempting to do is to salvage some form of statement from Parliament denouncing the very serious firearms offences we're talking about here.
These are current in the case of a first offence under Section 92(3):
Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (2) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(a) in the case of a first offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years;
(b) in the case of a second offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; and
(c) in the case of a third or subsequent offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years less a day.
I think we are talking here about some of the serious firearms offences that we're seeing in the headlines today. Just to be clear, we're talking about the commission of an offence with a firearm and these are some of the more serious offences. Not all of these are exactly the same. There's not just a series of mandatory minimums that this Bill C-5 eliminates. We have to put each and every one of them into context.
We have seen two clauses carry. I'm hopeful that on some of these clauses we might take a look at what the impact is, and we might give that some thought and say, “Do you know what? In this case, we should maintain a clause that perhaps has been in the Criminal Code for half a century.”
I'm going to ask a question of our witnesses to walk us through the process under this particular section, because I want to draw to the attention of the committee the fact that the minimum punishment in the present section is only triggered on a subsequent offence. The escalated minimum punishment, a term of imprisonment for two years less a day, is only triggered by a third offence.
We heard testimony from police, from community members and from victims' groups that their concern is not with the one-time offender, the person who innocently got caught up with a bad crowd and committed an offence. What we're talking about here is an individual who is deeply involved in serious crimes that, by definition, cause harm to their fellow Canadians.
It's bad enough to be charged and found guilty of one offence, but even at that threshold, it's not until you get to a second offence.... You have committed a crime under this section. Now you have gotten out. You have committed the same crime. You victimized another Canadian, and only now are we saying, “Okay, now you need to serve one year in prison.” It's one year in prison, and that's not after the first offence. That's after the second offence.
Now, picture that same individual. They have been found guilty twice of a serious firearms offence that involves the victimization of fellow Canadians in our communities, whether rural or urban. They were out again on the street, having been afforded the opportunity for rehabilitation and course correction. Now there's a subsequent third offence, for which they have been found guilty under our Criminal Code with the full benefit of our Charter of Rights and the full benefit of a fulsome defence under our charter. They've been found guilty a third time, and all we are saying as a Parliament is that for a serious firearms offence involving victimizing other Canadians, there should be a minimum of two years. Even that is being stripped from our Criminal Code by Bill C-5.
The reason I'm speaking about this, Mr. Chair, is that I think it's really important for committee members to think about it, because I know not all of us dwell on each of these clauses every day. We're all busy. We all have constituents. We have people who are calling in because the passport they went to get back in February still hasn't arrived. The point is that we're all busy people and we all have diverse challenges, and I think this is that moment—when we're at this table—when we draw our attention to the really profound impact that we have on Canadians' lives through the Criminal Code.
We heard witness testimony from victims. It was bothersome sometimes when some witnesses came and spoke for their introduction but they never mentioned victims. In virtually all of these cases, there's a victim involved. When we listen to the victims, of course.... I will not deny that when we listen to the criminal defence bar, they say, “Get rid of these mandatory minimums that are so troubling to my client. We don't want them.” However, when we listened to victims, they said it's an absolute affront to them that we would reduce the mandatory sentence that the person who victimized them would receive.
The question I have, through you, Chair, to our witnesses, is to distinguish subsection 92(3) from some of the others, so that the minimums we're dealing with here are not for first-time offenders, but for repeat offenders who, in some cases, are on their third offence.
The other thing I'll say.... I throw this out to committee members. I mentioned the case that we just heard about with NHL star Mitch Marner and the carjacking that happened. Do you know what? He's no more important than every other Canadian. The only reason we're talking about that is because we all know who he is. He's famous. What about the people who aren't Mitch Marner who had their car jacked from the same parking lot the week before? They're important too. They're Canadians too.
The point I'm going to make, and I'm guessing it's 100% true, is that if someone was convicted a first time, they committed an offence. They were caught by the police, had a trial, were found guilty and sentenced, and then there was a second time and a third time. If I asked every one of these committee members if they truly believe that those are the only three significant Criminal Code offences that this individual had committed, I don't think anyone would say they believe that.
These are the ones people are caught doing. It's one thing to get caught. It's another thing to get convicted under our system. They've been caught and convicted not once, not twice, but three times. Those are the minimums we're talking about.
Through you, Chair, to our witness, could you walk us through this clause and its application a bit? What are the triggers at each stage and the consequence of those triggers?