Kootenay East MP David Wilks’ private member’s bill legislating a mandatory minimum sentence for kidnapping a child passed third reading in the House of Commons October 17 and is now one step close to coming into law.
Bill C-299 would impose a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for a stranger that kidnaps a child under the age of 16.
“This bill goes beyond amending the Criminal Code to impose a mandatory minimum sentence,” stated Wilks. “It goes to the heart of every parent who has young children. It recognises that the most vulnerable, a child, must be protected at all costs.”
The bill was introduced by Wilks, following the kidnapping of three-year-old Kienan Hebert from his Sparwood home last September. Hebert was returned home safely and without injury just a few days later, while his kidnapper, Randall Hopley, was arrested and pleaded guilty to the abduction. Hopley is currently undergoing a 60 day assessment to determine if he is a dangerous or long-term offender prior to sentencing.
“This is not about taking away the power of a judge`s decision nor about interjecting into a legal system that some believe provides adequate sentencing,” commented Wilks. “This is about sending a clear message that the protection of children is front and center when it comes to criminal behaviour.”
Bill C-299 passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 151 to 117. Support was given by the Conservative Party, however the opposition NDP, Liberals, and Bloc Quebecois all voted against it. The bill will now go on to the Senate for debate before it can be passed.