Tories open to amending Bill C-23B
There is an article on CTV news about the Conservatives being open to amending the 3 strikes rule in bill C-23B. I argued against that measure at the Standing Committee meeting but then again so did most of the witnesses. I have said it before but it’s worth saying again. No one supported the bill in its entirety. Below is the article from CTV as well as my own comments regarding this specific measure from the meeting.
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Comité permanent de la sécurité publique et nationale
EVIDENCE number 42,
Témoignages du comité numéro 42
UNEDITED COPY – COPIE NON éDITéE
Wednesday, November 24, 2010 – Le mercredi 24 novembre 2010
Mr. Michael Ashby (Communications Director, National Pardon Centre):
Â Â Â The next item I would like to comment on is this issue of ineligibility. I think this is the issue that really goes to the heart of this debate. We heard some very passionate testimony from Mr. Kennedy. I have to tell you that as a father myself, it was very hard to disagree with what Mr. Kennedy was saying today. However, there is a reason that, when we’re creating legislation, we remain dispassionate.
Â Â Â Beyond this issue of ineligibility, there’s also this three strikes law that would create a blanket disqualification for anyone who hasn’t turned their life around quite as quickly as perhaps we would like them to. The thing I find odd about this proposal of ineligibility is that it again seems to disregard this issue of sentencing in criminal behaviour. The fact is we already have criteria for denying pardons, and it’s called a lifetime sentence.
Â Â Â I guess my feeling in this matter is that if the court system, if a court of a law has not determined an offender to be beyond redemption at the time of sentencing, I think at the very least the possibility of an application for a pardon is warranted.
Â Â Â I also think that more than that, it’s an obvious mistake to assume this kind of measure can make the public any safer. It seems to me that if you have a certain category of offender you’re worried about reoffending, then allowing them the opportunity to at least apply for a pardon is an opportunity to learn something about the behaviour of these offenders.
Â Â Â The fact is that the parole board is no longer under any obligation to issue a pardon, so if we want to refuse a pardon, why don’t we learn something about the offender in the process? If we’re going to refuse the pardon, I think applying a very clear justification for why the pardon is being refused makes more sense than just saying, outright, no.
Â Â Â The idea of blanket disqualifications, for me, is a flawed solution that wants to sweep the problem under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s a measure that I feel is not just unfair and unjustified; it’s a measure that I sincerely believe has negative effects on public safety. As we’ve heard from one of the other speakers today, this idea of being able to get a pardon is a clear motivator for ex-offenders to live a life free of crime. Once you take that opportunity away, then it obviously removes the motivation as well.