Wilks’ bill receives Royal Assent

Kootenay-Columbia MP's Private Members Bill C-299 adds mandatory sentencing for kidnapping children.

Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks has sponsored legislation that recently received Royal Assent. Private Members Bill C-299 adds mandatory sentencing for kidnapping children.

The Bill amends the criminal code to impose mandatory minimum sentencing of five years imprisonment for those convicted in subsection 279 (1) of the Criminal Code for kidnapping a child under 16.

“I am very proud that Bill C-299 has received Royal Assent. The protection of children across Canada is paramount,” Wilks said. “This addition to the Criminal Code will ensure that those convicted of kidnapping a child under the age of 16 receive adequate sentencing.”

The legislation is part of the Conservative government’s Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, and is one of four priorities identified by the Prime Minister.

Wilks said the idea for the legislation partially came from the kidnapping incident in Sparwood in 2011, when Randall Hopley abducted three year old Kienan Hebert.

“That was part of it, not all of it, but part of it,” Wilks said. “What I recognized was that under the Criminal Code Section 279 there was a, shall we say, omittance of recognizing the severity of kidnapping by a stranger or somebody that’s not a parent.”

Wilks put forward the private members bill to address the issue that he saw was missing from the code.

“Kidnapping is when someone is taken against their will by someone other than a parent or guardian,” he said. “There was a mandatory minimum in section 279 if you used a firearm or if you are affiliated to a criminal organization.”

He said that many children are kidnapped by people not affiliated with gangs and not using firearms.

“So this bill recognizes that children are very vulnerable, and if they are kidnapped the sentence should be looked at very severely,” he said.

Mandatory sentencing makes the minimum for this type of kidnapping five years, with the possibility of a life sentence.

“Certainly, if the circumstances warranted a stiffer penalty, then the judge could do that,” Wilks said.

Wilks said the Plan for Safe Streets holds violent criminals accountable, enhances the rights of victims, and increase the efficiency of Canada’s justice system.