Criminal Code of Canada

London Free Press and First Nations Youth

This post is in response to an article titled Siblings Jailed After Fatal Stabbing..

When I first read this article, I was thinking to myself, “Why would a news source announce that these youth were First Nations?” Then I read the readers’ comments, and it made more sense to me now.

A bit of background information (This information is available through the LF press news articles): This occurred last year in August. Both offenders are First Nations. One is a 22 year old mother of three, the other is 18 years old. Both pretty young. One received 2 years (the mother) and the other sentenced to 17 months.

In the Criminal Code of Canada, Section 718.2(e) states the following:


718.2 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

(e) all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.

The interpretation of this section was conducted during an Appeal to the decision made in R. v. Gladue. That decision can be read HERE.

It must be highlighted that this section of the Criminal Code of Canada does not give special consideration to Aboriginal peoples but in reality acknowledges the fact that many of them occupy prison systems. Harper’s Truth in Sentencing Act was seen as a step back because it failed to acknowledge this state of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. This Act removed the 2-4-1 sentencing, where time already served would not be acknowledged in final sentencing. Further exacerbating the rate at which Aboriginals populate prison systems.

Now, I won’t comment on the sentencing and the length that they received but it must be highlighted some of the factors that court’s consider when sentencing.

Some of these include:

  • First Time Offender?
  • Present Situation: education, family, employment
  • Social background: family life, childhood, etc.

In the case of these two individuals, they were both young, one was obviously drinking underage, and one already had three children before reaching the age of 25. This is what life is like in Canada for most Aboriginals. There is alcohol abuse, young parenthood, violent environments (Wasn’t one already carrying a knife…who carries a knife around if they are in a “safe” environment).

I am not promoting bad behaviour or violent behaviour among Aboriginal youth in any way. I am just attempting to address the comments some of the readers had in the article which can be read HERE.

They ask why was the term First Nations used? Why did that have to be mentioned? And one even states that using this term contributes to stereotypes in society. I thought the same thing.

But then I read a comment that said:

Look at the bright side, if you’re a white male, you’ll get at least 15 years for the same crime.

Hmmm, but race is not the case here. What is the case is that Aboriginals are over-represented in the Criminal Court system, including prisons. You say that still is dealing with race. No, it is dealing with the social situation that Aboriginals presently face. The decision in the appeal in R. v. Gladue highlights this.

Within this decision, it states:

  1. This section does not mean that judges should pay more attention to Aboriginal offenders, but attention to their unique characteristics.
  2. That Aboriginals are over-represented in prison systems.
  3. “The unbalanced ratio of imprisonment for aboriginal offenders flows from a number of sources, including poverty, substance abuse, lack of education, and the lack of employment opportunities for Aboriginal people. quoted @ para. 65.
  4. “It arises also from bias against Aboriginal people and from an unfortunate institutional approach that is more inclined to refuse bail and to impose more and longer prison terms for Aboriginal offenders.” quoted @ para. 65.
  5. Aboriginal people who suffer from systemic and direct discrimination are then both offenders to society and fall victim to society.

With the above, I tried my best to grasp the most important points, although this case is significantly important in every which way as it pertains to Aboriginals who enter the criminal court system. I guess by mentioning that the two offenders were First Nations, the news source may have been acknowledging the fact that Aboriginal people still face great disparities when it comes to society.

Relating to this LFpress article, this situation is nothing new to Aboriginal people in Canadian Society–violence amongst its young or its young going to jail, leaving behind futures and children. The thing that I am most annoyed with in this article is the fact that the comments just focus on “First Nations” and fails to acknowledge that some Aboriginal people face huge disparities in comparison to other groups within Canada. Not one comment, showed concern for the 3 children left behind or showed concern for young person who chose to throw their life away.

In the end, some people might respond to this post and say, “Well, who cares? That is their fault.” No, this isn’t their fault. Some Aboriginal people lag behind in education, employment, and some even live in poverty… despite having social supports. These are the inter-generational effects of colonialism, displacement of culture, loss of identity, and most importantly the effects of the Residential School system.

I hope more people begin to understand that Aboriginal people do not have it the best in Canada, and that we don’t get everything “for free.”

Read my post titled I get everything for free! and also my post titled Tax Exemption.

I hope this post changes one individual after reading it. Not everyone. I am content with one 🙂

Crime Rates & Minimum Sentences

Two articles in the Globe and Mail recently:

If crime rate is low, why do you require minimum sentences for something as petty as having SIX marijuana plants? Having SIX marijuana plants I think is no where NEAR any amount to be considered at the level of “trafficking.” Please note: I am not for for drug use, nor am I for criminal activity.

I think the Bill S-10 on minimum sentences is a bit over the top. I also believe that it will greatly affect Aboriginals and youth, as highlighted in the article, Liberals Come Out Against Tory “Dumb on Crime” Legislation.

Aboriginals are already over-represented in the criminal justice system. I wonder how this bill will affect Gladue Court decisions involving Aboriginals who enter the justice system under the Gladue Court.

You can read my other post on Criminal Pardons. Here, it is proposed that price to pay to get a pardon is considered to be raised.

I guess the Conservatives don’t realize that the Criminal Code of Canada is meant to do the following:

Purpose
718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

(a) to denounce unlawful conduct;

(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;

(c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;

(d) TO ASSIST IN REHABILITATING THE OFFENDER;

(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and

(f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims and to the community.
As taken from Canlii.ca

It would be nice if the Conservatives showed at least a bit of realization of the entire purpose of the Criminal Code of Canada and not just the part where it says “to separate offenders from society.” Creating more legislation that further marginalizes the Aboriginal people in Canada and the issues that they face (like being over-represented in the criminal justice system), just doesn’t do any good for the entire Canada society–Especially since Aboriginals are the fastest growing population in Canada (especially between the ages of 18-26). Read about those stats on Stats Can.

Creating more legislation for criminal activity doesn’t “denounce” or “deter” criminal activity, it just means it’s more than likely crime will go further unreported especially since “criminals” may be working harder at not “getting caught.” (Meaning, crime will go further unreported since it may be harder to detect crime–as mentioned in “Think Tank article above.)

Sorry Mr. Harper, but more bills/legislation pertaining to the Criminal Code of Canada won’t change crime rates or crime reporting, it just presents the reality that rehabilitation of the offender, or the full recognition of this major federal legislation, is not on your agenda: only a part of it. Additionally, your bills further oppress Aboriginals (and even youth). What a way to make for a better Canada–hurt the fastest growing population and the future of Canada!

Bill C-31

An Act to Amend the Old Age Security Act.

This came into effect January 1, 2011.

I am not for criminal activity but the statements of HR minister Diane Finley: the bill is the right thing to do for taxpayers and victims of crime (as read in today’s LF press newspaper).

People over the age of 65 serving two or more years in a federal institution are prevented from collecting taxpayer funded pensions.

I question how these old age “criminals” once released (after serving or even if they are released earlier) will be able to live. They will probably need social assistance and also access services from social agencies: all of which probably taxpayers still more than likely contribute to.

Really, I believe it goes against the CCC: to rehabilitate the convicted, amongst other things the CCC does.

Does this mean that old age criminals should collect their pensions while in jail? No. But how is this alleviating problem for taxpayers. Clearly it is not. I believe it just creates a heavier burden for society and its members to care for old age citizens, criminal or not.