BY DOUGLAS QUAN, POSTMEDIA NEWS
Canadians looking to get criminal pardons are getting unfair preferential treatment if they've paid more for the service, critics say.
A national pardon services company wrote to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews on May 28. It c o m plained that the Parole Board of Canada was giving priority to applicants who had paid heftier fees introduced earlier this year, and not responding in a timely manner to the "substantial backlog" of applications - about 22,500, the government admits - submitted before the fee increase.
"One can only imagine the outcry that would occur, if, for example, municipalities gave preferential access to municipal services to residents who paid higher property taxes because they live in more expensive homes," wrote Azmairnin Jadavji, president of Pardon Services Canada, a Vancouver-based company that helps individuals with their applications.
Back in February, the fee for applying for a pardon - or what the government now calls a "record suspension" - quadrupled from $150 to $631. The government said at the time that the cost increase was needed to address workload increases and ensure the sustainability of the pardons program. Read more »
A Nova Scotia man says the federal government's "tough on crime" law is making it impossible for him to restart his life.
Chris Conrad was 19 when he was busted for selling marijuana. He was sentenced to six months of house arrest and a year of probation. It was his first and only offence.
"I just didn't know what I wanted to do with my life at the time. So I guess you could say I took the easy road — what I already knew how to do to make money," he said.
Now 25, he has done his time. He went to university and planned to apply for a pardon so that when he graduated, he could enter the workforce without a criminal record. Until March, offenders had to wait five years to apply.
Conservatives change the rules Read more »
Overcrowding in Saskatchewan's jail could go from bad to worse when a federal crime bill takes effect, according to the provincial ombudsman.
Kevin Fenwick's latest annual report, released Monday, warns that the ongoing problem of crowded jails is likely to deteriorate further.
The crime bill, which passed a final vote in the House of Commons on March 12, includes mandatory jail sentences for certain crimes.
Critics of the bill have argued that mandatory minimum sentences will burden Canada's prison and court systems.
"Correctional centres in Saskatchewan already house almost twice as many inmates as they were designed for," Fenwick's report states in part. Read more »
BY VANESSA BROWN, LEADER-POST
Curtailing judges’ power to hand out community sentences in certain circumstances places restorative justice under threat, Saskatchewan’s ombudsman warns.
The federal omnibus crime bill, passed last month in the House of Commons, includes legislation that limits conditional sentencing and introduces new mandatory minimum sentences, among a host of other provisions.
Both “considerably threaten” the effectiveness of rehabilitative programs, said ombudsman Kevin Fenwick during a discussion on Bill C-10 held Saturday at Holy Rosary Community School. Representatives from advocate groups that work with current and former inmates also spoke at the conference. Read more »
By Andrew Hopkins, News 1130
VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - The province is still not ready to say how much the federal government's omnibus crime bill will cost you.
While some other provinces released their cost estimates months ago, BC continues to examine the impacts of Bill C-10.
Ontario believes new mandatory minimum sentences and harsher penalties for young offenders could cost it $1 billion. Here in BC, Solicitor General Shirley Bond says it's tough to predict the impact on prison populations. Read more »
BY JENNIFER MOREAU, BURNABY NOW
How much will the federal government's omnibus crime bill cost B.C.? That's the billion dollar question one local politician is asking, and blank documents released through freedom of information requests aren't helping solve the mystery.
Burnaby MLA Kathy Corrigan, the NDP's public safety and corrections critic, made freedom of information requests on the provincial government's costing and correspondence in respect to Bill C-10, also known as the omnibus crime bill. She received roughly 300 pages of documents, but information on costing was redacted. Read more »
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today welcomed the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on Ipeelee, which upholds the 1998 Gladue decision regarding sentencing of Aboriginal people.
"We commend the Supreme Court of Canada for this decision, one which instructs judges to craft 'fair and balanced sentences' as a central part of our justice system," National Chief Atleo said. "The decision recognizes the deep trauma still experienced by our peoples through decades of policies and practices such as residential schools that attacked our languages, cultures and families. This ruling upholds the principles of fairness and proportionality in sentencing." Read more »
By Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News
The government's omnibus crime bill is back in the House of Commons Tuesday after it was amended last week in the Senate.
Bill C-10 — the Safe Streets and Communities Act — is close to becoming law once MPs debate it Tuesday and possibly Wednesday for the final time.
The Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee, as expected, amended the part of the bill that allows Canadians to sue perpetrators of terrorism, and their supporters, in Canadian courts. Read more »
By: Maria Babbage, The Canadian Press
TORONTO - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cash-strapped government will try to balance its books on the back of the provinces, the premiers of Ontario and Quebec said Monday.
The leaders of Canada's two most populous provinces say they fear more responsibilities will be downloaded to the provinces in the federal budget later this month.
The same thing happened in the 1990s under former prime minister Jean Chretien's Liberal government, but it's "nothing but a shell game," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
"When you download responsibilities or costs from one level of government to the next, taxpayers simply pay the same costs to a different government," he said. "In the end, no one wins." Read more »
Editorial: THE CHRONICLE HERALD
MUCH as during the long-form census debate, the federal Conservatives have ignored reasoned outside calls for reflection and rammed through changes — in this case, their omnibus crime bill — with arguments long on ideological rhetoric but short on research.
After the Senate’s sped-up passage of Bill C-10 last week, the House of Commons needs only approve six Conservative amendments — a formality, with the Tories’ majority — and the legislation will likely soon become law.
Critics have warned the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which wraps together nine smaller bills previously put forward by the Conservatives while a minority government but never passed, will inevitably spawn Charter legal challenges. Read more »