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Building upon months of announcements, the Conservatives have tabled legislation in the House of Commons to strengthen penalties for drug production and trafficking offences.

Bill C-394, the Stronger Sentences for Safer Streets Act, would re-introduce mandatory minimum jail sentences that the Trudeau government had repealed after passing through Parliament in Nov. 2022.

The Liberals’ Bill C-5 removed mandatory minimum penalties for drug trafficking, drug importation/exportation, and drug production to address disproportionately high incarceration rates for black and Indigenous Canadians. 

However, Conservative MP and justice critic Rob Moore blames the prime minister’s “soft-on-crime” policies for exacerbating the opioid crisis and allowing drug dealers to prosper.

“Criminals who produce, import and export drugs like fentanyl are benefitting from Justin Trudeau’s soft-on-crime policies like Bill C-5, which eliminated mandatory jail time for criminals convicted of producing drugs like fentanyl and meth in our communities, and for those who are moving these dangerous drugs across the border,” said Moore.

Bill C-394 would impose a minimum sentence of one year for importing and/or exporting Schedule I drugs under one kilogram, and an 18-month minimum sentence if the amount is more than one kilogram.

In addition, the bill would introduce aggravating factors that would increase the mandatory minimum sentence to three years.

The factors are triggered if a perpetrator used property that did not belong to him in committing the offence, if the production constituted a security hazard to minors, if the production caused a public safety hazard, or if a trap or explosive device was rigged to protect the drugs. 

While the bill was successfully tabled, it is unlikely to succeed in a House, as the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Québécois supported the original bill to repeal similar mandatory minimum penalties. 

In recent months, the Conservatives have tabled several bills targeting criminals and made several announcements progressively revealing their anti-crime agenda. 

In February, Conservative MP Randy Hoback tabled Bill C-379 to introduce mandatory minimum penalties for car thieves, while deputy Conservative Leader Tim Uppal tabled Bill C-381 to place mandatory minimum sentences on extortionists, with an assortment of aggravating factors.

While Bill C-379 remains at second reading in the House, Bill C-381 was defeated at the second reading, as despite receiving support from the Bloc Québécois, the Liberal and NDP voted it down.