This is the Conservatives doing what they like best, playing upon fear. At least it seems to work on the Liberals who will support the bill because they fear being a target of Conservative ads that would portray them as soft on crime. With their polls doing well the Liberals will cave even though this may alienate some of their own members.
Feds move to ban conditional sentences for serious crimes
Vancouver SunJune 13, 2009 1:23 PM
The federal government says it will introduce legislation to the House of Commons on Monday that seeks to tighten up restrictions on conditional sentencing of criminal offenders.
North Vancouver MP Andrew Saxton, parliamentary secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, delivered the government's message in Vancouver for Attorney General Rob Nicholson.
"Our government believes that sentences passed in our courts must be meaningful, and they must reflect the severity of the crime committed," Saxton said, citing Metro Vancouver's recent increase in gang and drug related violence as a reason for the proposed legislation.
Saxton said the bill will tighten up current legislation, known as Bill C-9, which the Conservative government brought forward in 2006. Before being passed Bill C-9 was amended by the opposition during its committee stage.
The Conservatives wanted Bill C-9 to rule out conditional sentencing — where offenders are not jailed, but face severe restrictions on their freedom — for offences where the maximum penalty is 10 years in jail or more.
But the amendments allowed offenders guilty of non-personal injury crimes, which could include — depending on circumstances — theft over $5,000, robbery, arson and breaking and entering, to be eligible for conditional sentences.
Monday's bill once again seeks to make such crimes ineligible for conditional sentences.
"The proposed legislation will make it clearer to the courts which offences are not eligible for conditional sentences," Nicholson said in a news release.
According to Saxton, should the new bill pass, "conditional sentences will be reserved souly for less serious offences and those of low risk to comminity safety."
Saxton said he was "confident" the opposition would embrace the new legislation this time around.
Last week, the Conservatives also introduced legislation to repeal the "faint hope" clause, which gives those sentenced to life a shot at parole after 15 years.
Saxton could not say if his government plans on building more prisons or improving existing ones for a prison system that is already reported to be over burdened.
In 2006 Canada's prison population increased while the nation's crime rate fell to a 30-year low, including violent crime hitting its lowest point since 1989.
British Columbia's crime rate is above the national average and accounts for more than one quarter of the nation's drug crimes.
According to Statistics Canada nearly 10,000 Canadians were given conditional sentences in adult criminal court. Of those, 1,700 were for drug trafficking.
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