Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that his government is working hard to remove mandatory minimums to help dismantle "systemic racism" that targets Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Among the offenses that will have their mandatory minimums removed are robbery with a firearm, extortion with a firearm, discharging a firearm, discharging a firearm with intent, and weapons trafficking.
"We have made significant investments in reconciliation on a broad range of issues that has had an impact... there's much more to do," said Trudeau during an announcement in Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Recent reports have just been appalling in seeing the overrepresentation, particularly of Indigenous women, in our criminal system," he said, noting that his government was moving forward with the elimination of mandatory minimums.
"That's a bill that's currently being debated at committee right now to make sure that we're changing the system, and as we know, mandatory minimums do lead to an overrepresentation of vulnerable and marginalized people in our criminal system."
On Monday, Justice Minister David Lametti told The Globe and Mail that the "magnitude of the problem is tragic," adding that he expects Indigenous incarceration rates to drop once Canada implements the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and once Bill C-5 passes.
Bill C-5, "An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act," has been criticized by Conservative MPs for "removing mandatory jail time for violent criminals who commit serious and deadly offences with guns."
The Globe reported earlier this month that "Indigenous women now make up 50 per cent of the female population in federal prisons, even though just 4.9 per cent of women in Canada are Indigenous. For all Indigenous prisoners, men and women, the rate stands at 32 per cent."
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