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In a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about the government’s commitment to combat systemic racism. With Bill C-22, legislation that was tabled yesterday, the Liberals aim to reverse some of the problematic policies of the previous government led by Stephen Harper.

“It is past time for a change,” Trudeau said. “All Canadians must have confidence that laws are there to protect them, not harm them. Far too often, though, that’s just not the case. It’s a fact that a decade of failed policies by the previous government disproportionately hurt Indigenous peoples, Black Canadians and other racialized communities across the country. Laws that discriminate must be changed. Rules that don’t work need to be fixed. So that’s exactly what we’re doing.

“Yesterday we introduced Bill C-22 to make our justice system more just. This is another step forward to creating a system that is fair, effective and keeps all Canadians safe. What out communities need is a justice system that punishes criminals and makes sure they go to jail so they can’t put others in danger. What we don’t need is a system that targets racialized people because of systemic discrimination. What we don’t need is a system that sends people to prison because they struggle with addiction or a system that punishes young people for being Black, Indigenous or racialized.

“We’ve heard from both communities and law-enforcement that treatment and support is a better approach in many cases. Bill C-22 will prioritize that while keeping communities safe. We are also investing in diversion programs to increase the availability of reliable effective alternatives to criminal charges.”

Bill C-22 would amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The Law Times Newsspecifies that the amendments concern repealing mandatory minimum penalties for 14 of the 67 offences to which they currently apply, “allowing for greater use of conditional sentence orders and requiring police and prosecutors to consider alternative measures, such as diversion to addiction treatment programs, for simple possession of drugs.”

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