In a recent Ottawa Citizen article, Solomon Friedman was quoted on the subject of mandatory minimum sentences:
Solomon Friedman, an Ottawa defence lawyer who specializes in firearms law, said he sees two critical problems with the law.
“It fails to distinguish between people who possess firearms for a criminal purpose and people who have not complied with the licensing or registration scheme,” said Friedman. “There is a difference between a gang member who possesses a gun in order to further criminal enterprise and somebody who is simply technically in illegal possession of the firearm.”
The second problem, according to Friedman, is the gap between sentences for those who are charged summarily and those who are charged by indictment. Someone who is charged summarily for an offence such as possession of a firearm with readily accessible ammunition faces a one-year maximum sentence and no minimum, while someone charged by indictment for the exact same offence faces a three-year mandatory sentence.
What has been happening, according to Friedman, is that the Crown has proceeded almost exclusively by indictment when it comes to gun charges.
Friedman said the Supreme Court has been clear that mandatory minimum sentences have been found to be constitutional, and there hasn’t been a successful cruel and unusual punishment challenge for decades.