Premier Dalton McGuinty was quick to react after an Ontario Superior Court judge delivered a scathing broadside this week to mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes.
Judge Anne Molloy ruled Monday that sending first-time offender Leon Smickle to prison for three years for possessing a loaded, illegal gun is “cruel and unusual punishment.”
McGuinty on Tuesday reiterated his support for mandatory minimums for all gun offences.
“The message that we’re sending to all Ontarians is that we treat gun crimes very seriously here,” he said.
The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General has not yet said if it will appeal the decision, but in a tweet, McGuinty noted that the province is backing a mandatory sentence in another case at the appeal level.
With a whole new group of mandatory minimum drug and sex sentences awaiting passage by the Conservative-dominated Senate under the federal government’s omnibus crime bill, the legal and constitutional battle may be just beginning.
Toronto lawyer Paul Calarco, a spokesman for the Canadian Bar Association, said Molloy’s ruling, while not binding on other courts at this point, is significant, and almost certain to be appealed. “I have no doubt it will wind up before the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said.