Is the Harper Government Planning Harsher Rules Once Omnibus Crime Bill Passes?

Canada’s justice minister, Rob Nicholson, said “this is just the beginning” when he unveiled the Harper government’s infamous 100-page omnibus crime bill last week, and he likely meant it.

As the government used its 166-seat majority to impose closure on debate Tuesday to get the monster bill into the Commons justice committee for witness hearings, it was hard to imagine what could be left.

The bill, which throws together nearly a dozen crime bills the Conservatives had on the Commons plate when Stephen Harper cut Parliament short for the May election, seems to address every remaining pet peeve Harper and Nicholson had left over, following an endless string of earlier crime bills since they first won power nearly six years ago.

There are new mandatory minimum sentences, even for growing six marijuana plants for the purpose of trafficking, which would include handing just one joint over to a pal, higher maximum penalties for crimes, tougher sentencing for young offenders, more publicity in violent youth crimes and even a requirement police keep records of any “extrajudicial measures” they use to deal with young persons, presumably even stern lectures on the street corner, with a couple names jotted down in a notebook.

It is a mystery, then, as to what, exactly, the Conservatives might have on their minds for the future, which will presumably take place over the course of the next four years while they still have their majority.

If you listen to John Rosen, a prominent criminal defence lawyer in Toronto, there might be some clues.

Rosen told Yahoo! Canada News he suspects, for this round, the Harper government’s motives may be related to the justice and penal system in the U.S., where, thanks to HBO and any number of feature films about prison breaks and riots over the past few decades, we all know things are much, much tougher than they are in Canada.

For one thing, not to mention the brutal conditions of prisons, most federal offenders in the U.S. serve 85 per cent of their time in jail before they can be released, compared to parole eligibility at one-third of a sentence, for most crimes, all but the most serious, in Canada.

Rosen believes that is one area in which the U.S. was pressing the Canadian government to take measures that would level the playing field, hence the new higher maximum sentences, and the mandatory minimums, particularly in drug trafficking and production, and offences against children.

But, as every expert, including prosecutors, testified in Parliamentary committees the last time around, when the measures in the omnibus bill were trundling through the Commons and the Senate as individual items, none of those stiffer penalties actually lowered crime rates in the States, and instead led to overcrowded prisons with condition so odious judges are ordering prisoners released because of basic human rights violations.

“In the United States, they hand out draconian sentences,” Rosen says. “They minimize your ability to work towards an earlier release.”

“The net effect is to fill the prisons, to the point of nearly bankrupting the system, and under their law people apply to the court, for overcrowding and so forth, and the court orders the government to release prisoners, so you get this mass release of people because they don’t have enough beds.”

“California is on the brink of bankruptcy, so every once in a while 10,000 prisoners get let go because they can’t afford to house them.”

Rosen suspects a prisoner transfer treaty Canada has with the U.S. might have been the biggest factor in any U.S. pressure for tougher drug and crime sentencing in Canada.

But NDP MP Don Davies, a lawyer from British Columbia who has expertise in human rights law, says that was not the case. In fact, according to diplomatic cables between Ottawa and Washington, the U.S. government opposed a portion of the bill that deals with prisoner transfers.

The section will actually make it tougher for the U.S. to transfer Canadian offenders imprisoned there to Canadian jails.

The Harper government has resisted these transfers, says Davies. That is likely because, as mentioned earlier, prison conditions in Canada are better, and offenders can get out sooner, as long as they qualify for early release.

So, it’s no surprise the persons now in power in Ottawa, who believe past governments have been soft on crime, would rather these Canadian offenders remain in U.S. jails, where life is much harder.

“What this will do is make it more difficult for Canadians serving sentences in places like the States to come here,” Davies said. “The United States wants us to be taking our share of Canadian citizens back, just like we’re repatriating their citizens as well.”

Davies says the omnibus bill “gives the minister unbelievable discretion to refuse a request for transfer. These changes would give the public safety minister virtually unlimited discretion.”

Which takes us back to the original question: what else could Harper and Nicholson have up their sleeves?

Well, how about this? Maybe they plan to overhaul the entire sentencing system, the one that allows most offenders out if they qualify for parole after serving a third of their sentence.

Now that would level the playing field.

– Article Yahoo! News.



  1. Anonymous on

    Well, the USA has fema camps and this new package of crime laws are a step towards the equivalent – Harper is part of the NWO agenda – then he’ll privatize the prisons so they can make lots of money off of imprisoning people and have an easier time when the sheeple finally wake up and there is huge civil uprising for their rights, to squash it – internment camps in other words.
    And the drugs are coming into the states through official channels – remember Iran-Contra

  2. Anonymous on

    I said this before the election, I will state it again: Harper is dangerous and the prison scheme will be privatized like it is in the US (Gee, wonder who will have stock in that), voters will be suppressed, pissed off people that had to do hard time will hit the streets, crime will rise….but hey, no one votes anyway. My plans to move to Canada are fuked..I know, the system is fuked. Some person stated that if Canada were to head towards the US direction in this draconian way, riots would break out. The person even asked why there wasn’t riots in Amerika. WELL…..I simply replied that Canadians wouldn’t riot about this…and sure enough—the opposite has happened. PAthetic! Enjoy your Amerikanization!

  3. joe on

    Harper will militarize the police just as the USA

  4. Anonymous on

    The rcmp and police can’t do nothing. Put a sock in it. And duct tape!

    By abstructing people’s freedom and justice.

    They created criminal warface. Mass confusion.

    The police don’t think after criminals catch on to what police are doing.

    It makes innocent civilians, turn into criminal minded crazies.

    Why do you think so many children across canada go missing. COPS DONT CATCH REAL CRIMINALS, COPS MAKE CRIMINALS INTO WHAT THEY ARE!
    Because the police have took people on the streets candy, and the streets go take other peoples candy. And send ’em home with a bag full of nightmares.

    But that is a part of american society, satanism, human sacrifice, blood rituals, water rituals, pagan rituals against people. Witchcraft/ Voodoo.

    The son of the devil choose anger to lead his way. The cops follow in his footsteps.

    Don’t be surprised. That by 2012. Aint nobody here no more.

    The hurricane, tsunamis and wierd weather. Are a sign what your about to see, you never seen before.

    Did you know? Canada is making it so only “caucasians get jobs in canada”

    I have proof! Canada’s plan in the next five years or since recession!

    Is to make it harder and harder to get a job, so no immigrant can get a job in canada!

    See what caucasian people do. Steal the land from the natives and then! make these laws, like a sign saying “only whites”

    On top of that caucasian people gave the natives alcohol in trade of their land.
    And killed a bunch of natives in the process.

    Why everytime there is war. Caucasian people are invading other peoples land!


  5. Anonymous on

    @ Spoiled Sport : Instead of taking Stephen Harpers candy as a baby. They should of abducted him, and thrown him down a well. Then canada would get back it’s freedom.

  6. Anonymous on

    By taking a stance against marijuana.

    The government has made society into what the government fear, hate, are disillusioned by. What the government can only assume while getting wedgies in those seats of parliment.

    CPAC channel 97 in ontario. Is the worlds worst channel, it makes people who are interested in politics, hate politics.

    All the do, all day on CPAC is talk about what the government feeling is going on in their own little lives.
    They don’t discuss whats really important.
    They go through matters canada is facing with a sort of disgust on their faces.

  7. Anonymous on

    As time passes, it gets harder and harder to puff a joint in canada.

    While politians like Stephen Harper, get fat.

    With all this publicity.

    Putting harsher sentences on cannabis, is like how babylionian society believed in human sacrifice like politians of today sacrifice so many innocent peoples lives, under court of law.

    Why are so many people imprisoned. Because police feel with a gun, they feel they have control. But police not being able to help canadian citizens, have no control. Over law, a court of law, canadian jurisdiction.

    If these police really want to fight criminals. Send them to mexico to fight the drug war.

    And lets hope these iggnorant pot hating cops never come back to life or see the future.

  8. Pedro on

    I suspect they will remove prisoners’ voting-rights… they’re quadrupling the fee for a “pardon”.
    Conservatives are truly EVIL Blue Meanies!

  9. Spoiled Sport on

    As I said in another thread…. Another thing that Harper is planning on sneaking through with no fanfare is the ability of RCMP and police to monitor our e-mails, web activity, forums, texts, voicemails and conversations without need for a warrant or reason. Check out about this and other things that Harper and the CRTC are trying to ram by.

  10. Spoiled Sport on

    Why is Harper being so hard on criminals? Someone must have stolen his candy when he was a baby.