Conservatives Pressure Senate Liberals To Pass Mandatory Minimum Sentences Bill

Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson lashed out at the Senate today, accusing them of acting too slow on Bill C-15, the controversial drug bill which includes mandatory minimums for marijuana.Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson lashed out at the Senate today, accusing them of acting too slow on Bill C-15, the controversial drug bill which includes mandatory minimums for marijuana.CANNABIS CULTURE – Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson lashed out at the Senate today, accusing them of blocking the Conservatives so called “law and order’ agenda.

Nicholson specifically targeted the Senate for failing to act fast enough on C-15, the Conservatives’ bill that includes mandatory minimum prison terms for drug offenses and has been almost universally criticized by criminal justice experts. The bill, which took more than 14 weeks to pass the House of Commons, has been in the Senate for less than two weeks and has already passed First Reading.

Despite the passing of the bill by Liberals in the house, Senate Liberals seem to be standing up to the Conservative bullying.

“They want to appear to be tough on crime,” Senate Opposition Leader James Cowan said. “If they were really serious about this, they would have introduced these bills at the beginning of the session and processed them through the House and gotten them to us before the end of the session.”

Cowan said other bills have taken several months to pass the House, but Nicholson is demanding they pass the Senate in only two or three days.

“We’re not going to be pushed into doing that,” Cowan said, suggesting the Conservatives are trying to distract attention away from the economy and the isotope shortage.

Critics of the bill say evidence overwhelming shows mandatory minimums simply don’t work, can be extremely expensive to enforce, and cause more harm than good.

“Rob Nicholson has ignored the preponderance of scientific evidence and international experience, and now he is ignoring the Constitution”, said Kirk Tousaw, Executive Director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation. “C-15 has profound implications for our criminal justice system and provincial budgets, the Senate has a constitutional obligation to study the implications of this bill, especially considering that the Conservatives did not.”

Bill C-15 proposes mandatory minimum sentences for various drug crimes and uses broad language such as including sharing a joint as trafficking. Of the 16 experts called to testify on C-15, 13 called for the outright dismissal of the bill. When prompted, the Conservatives declined to provide evidence for the bill, and instead accused the opposition of being soft on crime.

“Why does this government have an unlimited budget for failed crime policies, but no money for prevention or harm reduction?” asked Jacob Hunter, Policy Director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation, “The Conservatives are taking Canada down a dangerous path to score cheap political points. Nobody voted for that.“

Prohibition reform activists say the bill fails to seriously combat higher-level drug dealers and instead target low-level dealers and users.

“The Conservative Party wants to appear tough on crime, but is in reality attacking young people, throwing them in jail instead of funding their education” said Marc Emery, leader of the BC Marijuana Party, “Stephen Harper is ignoring the more than 50% of Canadians who support marijuana legalization at his peril, Canadians do not support this radical Conservative agenda”.

Marc Emery has been under an extradition order since 2004 when US authories, assisted by the Vancouver Police, arrested Emery on charges of seed distribution. In May, Emery announced he would be pleading guilty in order to secure a deal which would see him face 5 years in a US jail.

“For Rob Nicholson to attempt to push through a bill he could not produce a single piece of evidence to support is absurd”, Emery said, “The Conservative Party may take it’s cues from the Republicans, but thankfully, the Senate does not”.


How To Stop Bill C-15

Please call or email your Senators and tell them to vote NO! on BILL C-15

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