Alberta’s justice minister is asking the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow people to carry and use pepper spray in self-defence.
“I suggest consideration be given to allowing individuals, including vulnerable persons, to carry capsaicin spray, commonly known as ‘pepper spray,’ for self-defence,” reads a letter written by Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu.
“As you are aware, pepper spray is currently a prohibited weapon. It is sadly ironic that a vulnerable person carrying pepper spray for self-defence could quite possibly receive a longer sentence than her attacker.”
Madu’s letter expresses concern about recent hate-motivated crimes and says the provincial government is taking action to stop these crimes — allowing pepper spray could be one way to address it, he writes.
In the letter addressed to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair, Madu says Alberta, and many other provinces, has seen an increase in drug-fuelled attacks and pepper spray would be helpful in these situations.
Madu asks the minsters to also consider implementing a mandatory minimum sentence for hate-driven crimes.
“Hate-motivated crimes deserve special consideration under legislation due to the pervasive effect they have on faith and minority communities,” said Madu. “Albertans need to know that when justice is brought upon those found responsible for hate-motivated crime, perpetrators will be truly punished without the leniency that has been seen of late.”
The justice minister points to an example from last month in Edmonton where a man was sentenced seven months for three separate race-motivated assaults. Madu added with the time the man had already served, he would be back on the streets 35 days later.
“This is clearly unacceptable and demonstrates a pattern of leniency in our criminal system when it comes to hate-motivated crime sentencing,” writes Madu.