Bill C-10 seeks to amend the Criminal Code by increasing minimum and maximum jail terms for various offences and restricting the use of conditional sentences.
Along with the Canadian Bar Association, which issued a 100-page report outlining the consequences of the bill, student groups at the law faculties of Dalhousie University, Windsor University, and the University of British Columbia have also publicly denounced the legislation. The Canadian Psychiatric Association and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies are also against it.
The Osgoode Legal and Literary Society released a statement on March 8, which lists the following reasons for opposing bill C-10:
1. It ignores the reality of crime in Canada.
2. It ignores accepted theories of crime causation and control.
3. It will be too punitive.
4. It was drafted without proper consultation and thorough vetting.
LLS president and 3L student Dave Shellnutt says it’s important for students to take a stand against the bill. “We just feel that while there may be positive initiatives in this bill, in its entirety it’s very harmful, very expensive, and overall detrimental to our justice system,” he says.
CBA president Trinda Ernst says students should voice their opinions. “Anytime young people are speaking out in non-violent ways is good,” she told Canadian Lawyer 4Students. “We need to encourage young people to get involved and be knowledgeable about the legal system.”
Shellnutt says many students work closely with the criminal law system. “We have some pretty unique interactions with the criminal law. A lot of us work at places that offer legal aid to people. So we have clients/community members who we see interacting with the criminal justice system and so we do know that a lot of these things that are proposed are going to impact these people in a very harmful way and not in a way that makes our communities any safer at all,” he adds.
Shellnutt says the LLS, along with its partners, plans to lobby politicians to make their voices heard.
Update: March 12. Clarification made regarding those opposed to bill C-10.