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Feds propose stiffer penalties for drunk drivers who kill

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Canada's Justice Minister Peter MacKay speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, June 16, 2015. (CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters)

Canada's Justice Minister Peter MacKay speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, June 16, 2015. (CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters)

Justice Minister Peter MacKay proposed a new law Tuesday to toughen penalties for drunk drivers who injure or kill.

The bill introduces a mandatory 6-year minimum sentence for impaired drivers who cause death, a measure long called for by victims' families and anti-drunk driving groups.

Three women whose children were killed by impaired drivers were at the House of Commons and a subsequent press conference for the introduction of the bill. A petition by Families for Justice has received more than 95,000 signatures.

"It's a basic premise of law that Canadians should feel safe and those that break the law should be punished for doing so," MacKay said at a press conference Tuesday at Ottawa police headquarters.

The proposed law, called the dangerous and impaired driving act, would double the maximum penalties for impaired driving from five to 10 years behind bars, while the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing bodily harm would be increased from 10 to 14 years in prison.

The proposed mandatory minimum sentence for impaired driving and refusing to provide police a breath sample in cases involving death would increase from a $1,000 fine to six years in behind bars.

Impaired driving is the No. 1 criminal cause of death in Canada, MacKay said.

Legislation won't pass before the election this fall, as the House is ready to rise for the summer and not return until after the federal vote.

MacKay called the legislation a "placeholder" and said he was hopeful the future government would see it through.

Markita Kaulius, the president of Families for Justice whose 22-year-old daughter Kassandra was killed by an impaired driver in 2011, told reporters she hopes the new laws will act as a deterrent and save lives.

In 2012, Natasha Warren of Surrey, B.C., pleaded guilty in the crash and was sentenced to three years in prison.


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