By: Tonda MacCharles, The Star
OTTAWA—The federal Conservative government is shifting the way lawmaking is done. Private member’s bills — which get less legislative analysis or parliamentary debate than government bills — are the new black.
Since Sunday, four private member’s bills that make changes to criminal and corrections law have been publicly backed by the government as good additions to its tough-on-crime agenda.
Here’s what the latest batch would do: create a new criminal offence for recruiting young people into gangs, levy $5,000 fines or jail terms up to 10 years for wearing a mask or face paint at a riot (five years if it’s an “unlawful assembly”), give federal prison officials more authority to dismiss inmate grievances by deeming them “vexatious” or “frivolous,” and set up a forced debt recovery scheme for inmates who win money from lawsuits against the Crown to require payment of outstanding child support, restitution orders or victim surcharges.
Another private member’s bill on Wednesday moved toward the final stage of Commons approval, to loud applause from Conservative benches. Bill C-304 would repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and prevent rights claims based on hate speech from being brought before human rights commissions.
The bills may all be fine in principle, but opposition critics see them as the new political tool of a government bent on appealing to its base while side-stepping public accountability. Read more »
By Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News
The expected passage of the government's omnibus crime bill has been pushed back to Monday.
Debate on the bill is expected to continue in the House of Commons Friday, with a vote now slated for next week.
On Wednesday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and associate defence minister Julian Fantino, a former police chief, held an event to tout Bill C-10 in anticipation of a final vote on the controversial proposals in the House of Commons.
They were joined by representatives from victims' groups at a community centre in Woodbridge, Ont., where Nicholson said the bill meets the expectations of Canadians and is responding to what is happening on Canada's streets. Read more »
I've really enjoyed the continuing revelations about Canada's Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ marital and ministerial infidelities, the most recent being the disclosure by the group Anonymous that alleges Toews made a paramour of his, Catherine Everett, a member of the Manitoba judge's bench.
By. JEFFREY SIMPSON, Globe and Mail
In the ongoing struggle between ideology and evidence within the Harper government, ideology too often wins.
The entire field of criminal justice features the government’s determination to ignore evidence. Occasionally, the evidence is so incontrovertible, and the means for forcing it on the government so forceful, that the government has no choice but to adjust course and, in a few instances, to actually retreat.
So it will be with the supervised injection site in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside after the Supreme Court’s unanimous support of the program’s continuation and its utter rebuff of the Harper government’s opposition to it.
The minister at the time of the government’s appeal against supervised injections at the Insite clinic was Tony Clement, now under justified assault for boondoggle spending in his constituency surrounding last year’s G8 summit in Huntsville. Read more »
By Editorial - Comox Valley Record
Anybody who has ever been victimized by crime remembers the effect it had — and perhaps is still having — on them.
A sense of innocence, trust or security can be lost — irretrievably in some cases.
Being doubly victimized by a Canadian legal system that bends over backwards to ensure the accused gets a fair trial might create a feeling of betrayal.
The Stephen Harper government is tapping into these feelings on top of the existing anti-crime element of its ideology.
No politician — or editor — wants to appear soft on crime, which might explain why few political opponents criticized the Conservatives’ Safe Streets and Communities Act during Question Period. Read more »
By. John Moore, National Post
Facts and science found refuge in Canada’s Supreme Court last Friday. The court delivered a smack down to ideology, finding that the success of Vancouver’s safe injection program in providing better outcomes for drug addicts and improving public order is inarguable. The court’s highly technical decision hinged on the unanimous conclusion that the program’s goals have been provably met. Debate over.
Insite works on the principal of harm reduction; if an individual is going to use drugs then it’s better they do it in a clean and supervised environment. The goals of the program are to prevent the transmission of disease, lower the incidence of public drug taking and to expose users on a regular basis to addiction professionals, increasing the opportunities to choose rehab over continued drug use.
For half a decade opponents of Insite have marshalled bogus studies, torqued factoids and the occasional legitimate dissenting research in order to insist that it’s a complete disaster. The Prime Minister declared it to be “a failed experiment,” as if saying this would make it true. Read more »
By David McKie, CBC News
Health Canada began two days of closed-door talks Wednesday about changes to the controversial medical marijuana law that has faced legal challenges and criticism for being ineffective.
But even as meetings get underway in Ottawa, there are concerns Health Canada is on the wrong track with a law that asks doctors to ignore a sworn obligation to protect patients’ health, while forcing patients to go to great lengths to obtain a drug that many say eases their pain. Read more »
By: GLORIA GALLOWAY, Globe and Mail
The Conservative government has decided to allow just two days additional of debate on its omnibus crime bill before the proposed law goes off to a Commons committee for study.
Government House Leader Peter Van Loan announced the time restriction on Tuesday – a move designed to thwart long hours of criticism from opposition benches over the controversial 102-page piece of legislation that wraps together nine separate bills the Conservatives failed to enact during their minority government years.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae immediately denounced the cutting off of debate as a act of a “majority abusing power.” Read more »
BY DOUGLAS QUAN, POSTMEDIA NEWS
There was a time when Manjit Virk would have liked nothing more than to wring the neck of Warren Glowatski, one of two teenagers convicted of murdering his daughter, Reena, "as if he were a chicken."
But in the fall of 2005, when the two came face to face in a semicircle of chairs in the basement of a church, something very different happened.
"It was the most unusual experience I had encountered in my life," the Victoria father later recounted in his book, Reena: A Father's Story.
"My daughter's killer was shaking hands with me." Read more »
By BRUCE CHEADLE The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Conservative government dismissed the cost to taxpayers and the direction of crime trends Tuesday as it introduced sweeping new criminal-justice changes it says will make Canadians feel safer.
``We're not governing on the basis of the latest statistics,'' Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said at a news conference in suburban Brampton, Ont.
``We're governing on the basis of what's right to better protect victims and law-abiding Canadians.''
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has moved to make good on an election promise to bundle a series of proposed measures as part of his self-described ``tough-on-crime'' agenda. Read more »