Senate Accepts Bill C-15 Amendments

Senate Votes to Remove Mandatory Minimum Sentences from Tory Pot Law

The Senate has voted in favour of changing a Conservative crime bill that would have imposed a mandatory six-month minimum sentence on people convicted of growing as few as five pot plants.

[Editors Note: Though Canada’s Senate made amendments to Bill C-15, mandatory minimums for under 200 are STILL included in the bill for many aggravating factors. Don’t be fooled by overly positive media reports! Click here for more info.]

By a vote of 49-44, the Liberal-dominated upper chamber agreed to amend Bill C-15 to give judges greater discretion in sentencing convictions for growing between five and 200 plants.

The amendments also provide aboriginal convicts with an exemption from the minimum sentences, require judges to explain why they are not imposing the suggested minimums, and add in a cost-benefit review of how the legislation is working after five years.

However, mandatory minimum sentences of nine months still remain in place if there are aggravating factors to the marijuana grow-op, such as endangering the health of a child or creating a public safety hazard.

The Conservative government has sharply criticized the Senate for tinkering with legislation that has already been passed by the elected House of Commons.

It is not clear what will become of the changes when the amended bill is sent back to the Commons, where it must again be ratified before it can become law.

– Article from The Toronto Star.

Senate Accept C-15 Amendments

by Jacob Hunter,

The Senate has accepted the proposed amendments 49-43.

The bill will now go to Third Reading in the Senate, and then will be forwarded to the House of Commons.

We have just gained a potential for a few more months of delay.

History of Senate amendment/rejection of major legislation:

i) In 1875, the upper chamber rejected a bill for the construction of a railway from Esquimalt to Nanaimo in British Columbia on the ground it was an unwarranted public expenditure.

ii) In 1879, the Senate turned down a bill to provide for two additional judges in British Columbia on the ground that the provincial government was in the midst of an election and had, under the circumstances, no right to ask for the increase.

iii) In 1899 and 1900, the Senate rejected a bill to re-adjust representation in Ontario on the alleged ground that it was inexpedient to proceed with the bill until after the 1901 census, when re-adjustment of representation would be required under the British North America Act.

iv) In 1909, a bill which allowed appeals in claims from the Exchequer Court to provincial Supreme Courts in certain cases was rejected on the ground that it would lead to unnecessary litigation and confusion.

v) In 1913, the Senate defeated the Naval Assistance Bill and adopted the following resolution: “This House is not justified in giving its assent to the bill until it is submitted to the judgement of the country”.

vi) In 1919, a bill bringing the Biological Board of Canada under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries was thrown out on the ground that the Board should be independent and protected from political interference.

vii) In 1924, the Senate rejected seven bills sent from the Commons and drastically amended three others relating to the construction of the branch lines for the newly organized Canadian National Railway.

viii) In 1926, the Senate rejected the Old Age Pension Bill on the grounds that there was no general public demand, that the provinces had not indicated approval, and on the ground of social undesirability.

ix) From 1930 to 1940, thirteen bills from the Commons failed to pass the Senate, including one private bill relating to patents, two private members’ public bills, a bill relating to pensions for Judges, and a bill which provided for the extension of Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

x) In 1961, the Senate Banking Committee recommended that a Bill declaring vacant the post of Governor of the Bank of Canada be dropped after the former Governor, Mr. James E. Coyne, resigned.

xi) In 1961, the Senate insisted on an amendment it made to a Government Bill to amend the Customs Act.

During the 1970’s, Senate impact on Commons legislation was principally to be found in recommendations emanating from pre-study committee reports made to bills in advance of their coming before the Senate. Such pre-study of the 1975 Bankruptcy Bill led to almost 140 amendments being proposed.

During the latter 1980’s and the 1990’s, the Senate became more active in formally opposing and amending Commons legislation. Among the more controversial bills which led to confrontation between the Senate and House of Commons were the following: (i) in 1985, Bill C-11, the Borrowing Authority Bill; (ii) in 1986, Bill C-67, the “gating” amendments proposed to the Penitentiary Act; (iii) in 1987, Bill C-22, the Drug Patent Bill and Bill C-84, the Immigration Bill; (iv) in 1988, Bill C-60, the Copyright Bill, Bill C-103, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Bill and Bill C-130, the Free Trade Bill; (v) in 1989, Bill C-21, the Unemployment Insurance Act amendments; (vi) in 1990, Bill C-28, the “clawback” Income Tax Bill and Bill C-62, the Goods and Services Tax; (vii) in 1991, Bill C-43, the Abortion Bill, which was defeated at third reading; (viii) in 1996, Bill C-28, the Lester B. Pearson International Airport Bill, which was also defeated at third reading; and, (ix) in 1998, Bill C-220, the profit from authorship respecting a crime Bill, which was defeated at report stage.