Justice minister prioritizes ‘tough-on-crime’ legislation before break





Canada's Justice Minister Rob Nicholson speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa November 29, 2010.

Photograph by: Blair Gable, Reuters

OTTAWA — With only a week left in the current session of Parliament, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson urged his opposition colleagues to help him pass some of the nearly 20 “tough-on-crime” bills currently before the government.

Nicholson pointed to four bills on Sunday currently before Parliament when asked which pieces of legislation he would prioritize for passage before the current session expires: Bills S-6, which eliminates the faint-hope clause for serious offenders, C-23, which eliminates pardons for serial sex offenders against children, C-48, which allows judges to sentence multiple murderers to consecutive sentences, and S-10, which introduces mandatory minimum sentences for growing marijuana.

Saying “the vast majority of people support us on this,” Nicholson said opposition MPs were delaying the bills over semantics.







Feds ready automatic jail time for sex crimes against children



OTTAWA — The Harper government moved Thursday to eliminate house arrest as punishment for sex crimes against children, by proposing legislation that would automatically jail offenders for at least 90 days for some offences and a minimum of five years for others.


With former child victim Sheldon Kennedy at his side, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson told a news conference that his legislation — which would remove discretion for judges to impose sentences as they see fit — will make penalties more consistent nationwide.


"They would ensure that conditional sentences such as house arrest will no longer be available for these offences," said Nicholson, whose bill calls for mandatory minimum sentences for seven crimes, including sex assault, exposure, Internet luring and incest.


The proposed legislation, called the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, also rewords the existing Criminal Code ban on Internet luring, to make it clear that "grooming" young people online by sending them sexually explicit material fits the crime and that it will garner a jail term of at least 90 days.


Mandatory minimum jail terms are central to the Harper government's law-and-order agenda. The Conservatives have already proposed automatic jail time for selling drugs, growing marijuana, human smuggling and white-collar crimes. Also, mandatory imprisonment for a variety of gun-related crimes became law two years ago.


Mandatory minimums for crimes against children are not new. The previous Liberal government imposed automatic incarceration for nine child-exploitation offences, and the government on Thursday proposed additions to the list.


The bill also seeks to hike the minimum sentences on crimes against children that already garner automatic jail time.


Mandatory minimum sentences are controversial in that they strip judges of their discretion to tailor sentences to fit a case, and critics contend they will lead to more plea bargaining to avoid stiffer sentences. Automatic jailing is also expensive — the Conservatives are expected to spend billions of dollars in the coming years to imprison more offenders and keep them there longer.


"Mandatory minimums are very contentious, but child-rights organizations do support them because the problem we're facing right now is the reality that the judiciary just doesn't get it," said Mark Hecht, of the advocacy group Beyond Borders. "A big issue is there is a lack of consistency across our country in a big way."


Kennedy, a former NHL player who was assaulted as a teen by his former coach, Graham James, lauded the bill as a sign that society is finally recognizing "the damage that sex abuse has on young people."


The proposed legislation, which would impose a minimum one-year term for sex assault, would not have made a difference for James, who was sentenced to 3.5 years for assaulting Kennedy and another unnamed player about 350 times over 10 years. James turned himself in late last month to face other sex-assault charges.


The bill, promised in the throne speech last March opening the current session of Parliament, follows other Conservative measures to crack down on child sex crimes.


The government introduced a bill last spring that would force Internet service providers to report online child pornography and, in 2008, the age of sexual consent was raised to 16 from 14.


There are already more than 40 crimes in Canada that carry fixed minimum jail terms.



What's next, for the conservatives?
Raising the age of sexual consent to 25? Mr. Harper apparently turned a blind eye to the married Vic Towes getting his young secretary pregnant..

The legislation is worded so no politician can appear against it, slipped in along side this is a whole host of draconian American style rules that are guaranteed to fill jails to the private jail companies who fill conservative coffers.


This story is about very sick people. Absolute power encourages abuse.

What is revolting is that the conservatives, allude, that Liberals are not the same as everyone else and revolted by sex crimes against children.

its tantamount to calling Liberals child abusers and before they start with that they need to look a little closer at their own camp their own outragious abuses of power that defy the Rule of Law, the principles of democracy and justice.



It's Ironic that the Edmonton Journal, refuses to allow comments to the story; "Justice minister prioritizes ‘tough-on-crime’ legislation before break: However, this sister publication, the Montreal Gazette, allows comments to the no contest story about 'sex crimes".

The Conservatives ride on the 'tough on crime' theme, it gets an automatic knee jerk from almost anyone who dislikes criminals and who does not have a brain.

For those with brains, is very obvious that the Conservatives wish to incarcerate ever increasing percentages of the population for each $10 in cost could be avoided by around 25 cents in social spending.

When are the Liberals going to get a real leader to take on this nonsensical Conservative dogma?

The only person who has what it takes is Justine Trudeau and its only a matter of time before the Liberal Party wake up and realize it. before more Fantino's get elected.