OTTAWA – The federal government has introduced new legislation which would label gang killings as first-degree murder, carrying a sentence of at least 25 years without parole.
The bill introduced by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson today would also create a new offence and a minimum jail term for drive-by shootings.
These attacks would carry a minimum sentence of four years in prison and a maximum of 14 years.
Another section of the legislation creates new offences for aggravated assault against a police officer and assault with a weapon against a police officer, both carrying 14-year sentences under the proposed new law.
"We will not tolerate attacks on police or peace officers," the minister said.
Charles Momy, head of the Canadian Police Association, welcomed the legislation.
"We all know that front-line police officers . . . have to deal with the influx of gangs across this country," he said. "They certainly appear to have run amok."
Other sections of the bill would get tough on people who try to intimidate witnesses.
The legislation follows a public outcry about a rash of gang-related violence in British Columbia.
Nicholson said it's time to crack down.
"We are moving forward on our justice agenda to address the impact of gangs and organized crime on Canadian families and society," he said.
He also said more measures may come: "We're not done yet."
He said he wants gangsters to take note of the latest measures.
"They send out a very clear message about the seriousness with which we take gang activity," he said. "This kind of activity, this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated."
Although the Conservative government pushed crime legislation through the last Parliament by making it a matter of confidence – threatening an election if the opposition voted No – the minister said this bill will not be a confidence measure.
"I'm hoping that this will get the support of all political parties.
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre