A Values and Evidence Approach to Sentencing Purposes and Principles

The sentencing of organizations (S. 718.21)

I have little knowledge or experience with this section. However, I did read the debates at second reading in the House of Commons concerning the bill that introduced this section into the Criminal Code.Footnote 50 What is notable, perhaps, is that there seemed to be general support for the bill – and more particularly there was support for this section – from not only the Liberals who introduced it, but from the Canadian Alliance, the Conservatives, the NDP, and the Bloc. As one Liberal MP pointed out in the debate at second reading, the then proposed “718.21 would provide the courts with what amounts to a checklist of 10 things that should be considered in setting the level of a fine” (Hansard, 15 September 2003).

At third reading, the response to these sentencing provisions was similar: there was no opposition. We can, perhaps, learn from this experience. The section gives judges guidance where, it was thought, judges actually could use guidance. It didn’t tell them what to conclude, but it did tell them what they should think about. And politically, a thoughtful ‘check list’ seemed to have support not only from the government that proposed the bill, but from the four opposition parties.

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