CANNABIS CULTURE – Severe crime legislation that includes mandatory prison sentences for minor marijuana offences was passed by the Conservative-controlled House of Commons yesterday. Bill C-10 now heads to the Senate for approval before it can become Canadian law.
The Safe Streets and Communities Act – an omnibus bill composed of nine separate pieces of crime legislation Conservative MPs failed to pass while they had a minority government – was easily passed this time around by the Conservative majority in a vote of 157 to 127.
The bill has come under strong criticism from virtually all sides. Legal experts, opposition politicians, provincial government heads, non-profit groups, and even lawmakers from other countries say the proposed laws would send scores of non-violent Canadians to prison and cost billions of extra tax dollars to maintain.
Read more about the dangers of Bill C-10.
Watch video of NDP MP Ryan Clearly criticizing the bill in the House of Commons:
Watch video of Liberal MP John McCallum criticizing the bill in the House of Commons, saying the Conservatives are “taking us back to the middle ages”:
The Conservatives have also come under fire for forcing the bill through the House, invoking closure to limit debate every chance they could, and for keeping the true cost of the bill hidden from the Canadian public.
The massive bill would increase the length of marijuana-related prison terms and impose mandatory minimum sentences for growing as few as six marijuana plants or extracting hash or oil, and is expected to have a dramatic effect on Canada’s cannabis community if passed.
The bill would also crack-down on young offenders and eliminate conditional sentences, and contains other changes that are expected to intensify problems within Canada’s justice system.
Read the entire bill.
A growing number of activist groups have been fighting to raise awareness and encourage members of the government to oppose the legislation. Opponents of the bill staged protests of the Prime Minister and Premiers who supported the bill, and thousands of petitions against the bill were presented to Conservative MPs in the days before its passing.
“I don’t think it’s going to lead to safer streets. In fact, it may lead to more crime and recidivism,” NDP Justice critic Jack Harris said Monday in response to the bill’s passage. “I think this government is making a big mistake and the next government is going to have to fix those mistakes and undo the damage that has been done.”
The Liberal Party of Canada released a statement on Monday pointing out the dangers of the bill:
The Conservatives’ bundling together of 9 bills that warranted independent discussion, their shutting down of debate in committee, and their rejection of all amendments while arrogantly labeling others as supporters of criminals and not victims, undermines Parliament and democratic process. They have rammed through the House of Commons a law and order agenda that is poorly thought-out, rushed and demonstrates the Conservative commitment to governing by ideology instead of facts and evidence.
This bill will impose mandatory minimums that will turn young offenders into hardened criminals. It fails the mentally ill, aboriginal people, visible minorities and the poor. It repeats the mistakes of failed, expensive and discredited American crime policy. Police and prisons officials from states like Texas are telling Mr. Harper very clearly: We tried what you are doing but it drained the public coffers and made our communities less safe. Do not go down our failed path.
At the end of the day we will have more crime, less justice, skyrocketing costs, prison overcrowding, less rehabilitation for the offenders, less protection for victims and less protection for the public. Liberals are committed to pursuing a crime and justice approach that is evidence-based, cost effective and focused on preventing crime and victimization.
The bill is expected to be just the first stage of the Conservatives “tough-on-crime” agenda, with journalists speculating on increasingly harsher rules once the bill is passed.
HOW TO HELP STOP BILL C-10
Though C-10 will likely be approved by the Conservative-controlled Senate, there’s still time to encourage Senators to oppose the legislation. Contact Senators and let them know how you feel about Bill C-10.
Read Marc Emery’s latest prison blog post about Bill C-10 from Cannabis Culture.
Read mainstream media stories about the bill’s passage:
Conservatives force through crime bill
OTTAWA, Dec. 6 (UPI) — Canada’s Conservative government used its majority to force a sweeping crime reform bill through Parliament in Ottawa.
The omnibus bill is made up of nine smaller bills the Conservatives weren’t able to get passed as a minority government, the National Post said.
It passed by a vote of 157-127 Monday night.
The Safe Streets and Communities Act is widely seen as a get-tough approach to crime and punishment, calling for mandatory jail time for growing marijuana, making it tougher to get parole and stricter sentencing for young offenders, the Post said.
The Canadian Bar Association lobbied against the bill, alleging it was based on a flawed U.S. system that resulted in a prison overcrowding crisis.
Meanwhile, the two most populous provinces of Ontario and Quebec have indicated they can’t afford the new costs being downloaded to them by the bill, the Globe and Mail said.
– Read the entire article at UPI.
Police chiefs urge more ‘balanced approach’ while supporting omnibus crime bill
by Toronto Star
OTTAWA—The head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is calling for an end to “tough on crime/soft on crime” sloganeering and a more “balanced approach” to the serious issues of criminal law policy.
Standing in uniform as he flanked the federal justice minister, Prince Albert’s Police Chief Dale McFee said he supports the government’s new law to increase penalties for serious crime, but added labels are getting in the way of constructive debate.
McFee was presented at a morning news conference as a “stakeholder” and supporter of the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime package, Bill C-10 — entitled the “Safe Streets and Communities Act.” It passed a Commons vote Monday evening with a vote of 157 to 127.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson called the news conference earlier in the day to urge swift passage of the omnibus bill, and suggested the Opposition was dragging its feet.
“The time for talk is over. The time for action is now,” said Nicholson.
But while McFee said the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supported the passage of Bill C-10, he said the simplification of debate is not helpful.
“We’ve got this distinction — hard and soft on crime — and quite frankly I think, on behalf of the policing in this country, we need to stop that,” said McFee.
“In reality, we’re not going to arrest our way out of our troubles,” McFee told reporters, as Nicholson stood off to the side.
Those who commit serious crime “need to go to jail” where McFee said they may receive counseling and rehabilitation programs in a closed environment that keeps Canadians safe.
But, McFee said, a lot of people would be diverted from crime through early intervention and prevention programs. Such programs would “save lots of money and obviously be more efficient in achieving the results at that end,” he said. “And I think unless we do both, quite frankly, we’re missing a piece.”
– Read the entire article at Toronto Star.
Tories’ omnibus crime bill passes in the House of Commons
by National Post
OTTAWA — The opposition has called it misguided, at least two provinces have vowed not to pay for it and the Canadian Bar Association has done its darndest to get the Conservatives to listen to reason.
Still, the controversial omnibus crime bill cleared the Commons Monday evening, just 45 sitting days after it was first tabled.
The Safe Streets and Communities Act — a hodgepodge of nine justice bills, most of which were defeated in previous Parliaments when the Conservatives were in minority status — easily passed thanks to the government’s new majority in a vote of 157 to 127.
“Parliament has seen and debated these measures, some of them for as long as four years,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said earlier in the day as he called on all MPs to unanimously support the measures — even though this clearly was no longer necessary, nor likely to happen.
“The time for talk is over. The time for action is now.”
The government fast-tracked the bill through the Commons, invoking closure every step of the way to limit debate, and Nicholson expressed hope that the bill also would move through the Senate “expeditiously.”
– Read the entire article at National Post.
Omnibus crime bill passes through House of Commons
An omnibus crime bill passed by the House of Commons on Monday needs to be balanced by crime-prevention efforts, says the head of a major police organization.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supports the Conservatives’ multi-part bill because it deals with serious crimes, said the association’s president, Chief Dale McFee.
Among other things, the bill increases penalties for sexual offences against children and ends the use of house arrest for violent crimes.
“The reality is we’re not going to arrest our way out of our troubles but we’re not going to stop arresting,” he told a news conference.
“When we’re dealing with serious crime, there’s quite frankly some people that need to go to jail but there’s also a lot of people (for whom) early intervention and prevention will go a long ways and save lots of money and obviously be more efficient in achieving the results at that end.
“And I think, unless we do both, quite frankly, we’re missing a piece.”
McFee says he hopes to speak with the government about the prevention piece going forward.
– Read the entire article at CTV.
Tougher laws days away
by Edmonton Sun
OTTAWA – Canadians will ring in the New Year under a stricter Criminal Code.
The omnibus crime bill passed third reading in the House of Commons Monday night and headed to the Senate, where it is expected to be swiftly passed into law by the Conservative majority in the red chamber.
“Canadians gave us a strong mandate to crack down on child sexual offenders and on dangerous drug dealers who sell drugs to children, and we are one step closer to achieving this with the passage of Bill C-10 in the House of Commons,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said. “We promised to pass this important legislation within the first 100 sitting days of the parliamentary session and we intend to deliver on that promise.”
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) support the changes.
“When we talk about terrorism, organized crime, violent or sexual offences, producing and trafficking controlled substances, and any other criminal acts related to this bill, let me emphasize, we’re talking about serious crime here and this type of activity is simply not acceptable.” CACP president Dale McPhee said. “Bill C-10 provides appropriate consequences for serious criminals acts and will assist in strengthening the public’s faith in the justice system.”
– Read the entire article at Edmonton Sun.