Mandatory sentences are always a bad idea except when they're a good one

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson backs a crime bill he once opposed

A lot can change in 22 years. Take Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s opinion about drug laws, for example. Today, he’s pushing to pass a crime bill that includes mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes. Among other other measures, anyone found with five or more marijuana plants would have to serve a minimum of six months in prison. In 1988, however, Nicholson took up arms against the very same proposition. While serving as a Mulroney backbencher, Nicholson was vice-chair of a parliamentary committee that examined mandatory minimum sentences. In a report titled “Taking Responsibility,” the committee argued against that very type of sentencing, insisting such guidelines “have had the undesirable effect of contributing to rapidly increasing prison populations in the United States.” A spokesperson for Nicholson explained the change of heart by citing the government’s firm belief that “for certain offences […] a minimum period of incarceration is justified.”

The Hill Times