Bill C-10 Will Hit Nunavut Hard, Shewchuk Tells Senators

Dan Shewchuk, the Nunavut justice minister, told the Senate legal affairs committee Feb. 2 that Bill C-10, the Conservative government’s omnibus crime bill, will create big costs and other problems for Nunavut’s justice and correctional systems.

Bill C-10, known as the Safe Streets and Communities Act, would amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other federal laws to limit the use of conditional sentencing, create more mandatory minimum sentences and make the youth justice law more tough.

“Nunavut has a unique justice system and Bill C-10 will have repercussions on our territory,” Shewchuk said.

Shewchuk told senators on the committee that Nunavut is worried that new mandatory minimum sentences for adults and tougher youth justice provisions will result in more Nunavut offenders being incarcerated.

This, in turn, would produce higher costs for Nunavut courts and the Nunavut corrections system, Shewchuk said.

Shewchuk also said Bill C-10 conflicts with Nunavut’s desire to incorporate Inuit societal values into its justice system and use community-based justice.

For example, he said manadatory minimum sentences do not allow for the involvement of elders or community members in sentencing, because the sentence is already pre-determined.

He said Bill C-10 should be amended to let judges use discretion when sentencing aboriginal offenders.

And he asked the federal government for funding to help Nunavut pay the extra costs imposed by Bill C-10.

Shewchuk also said the implementation of Bill C-10 should be delayed in Nunavut to provide the territory with more time to create more correctional centre spaces and other infrastructure that will be required to accommodate the impact of Bill C-10.

Bill C-10 has passed the House of Commons and is now under scrutiny in the Senate. The Harper government is expected to use its majority in each house to put the bill into law quickly.

– Article from Nunatsiaq News