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Tories Willing to Discuss Crime Bill?

Sometimes what bothers me about this crime bill is not how bad most of the measures are. After all we all have different values and if the Conservatives value punishment over rehabilitation that is their prerogative. It isn’t even that the measures don’t have a faint hope of accomplishing what they are supposed to. I start to lose my patience when this administration claims things which are not only untrue but are clearly insulting to the intelligence of anyone who has been paying attention to the debate.  I lifted the following lines from an article from Canada.com which you might want to give a read over. If so just click the link at the bottom of this post.

Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Nicholson’s parliamentary secretary, affirmed the government’s position during question period Friday.

“We are always happy to work with our provincial counterparts. . . . We have responded to Quebec’s concerns with a series of past amendments, as well as a new amendment that is tabled at the justice committee now,” she said.

“We are taking a balanced approach. We are listening. It is time for the opposition to end its grandstanding, support victims and support our measures on Bill C-10.”

To begin the Conservatives have shown an unwillingness to work with anyone on this bill. I have felt the attack of a Conservative MP myself during debate of Bill C-23B which is now included in Bill C-10. That the Tories have failed to show good faith in the opposition and the Canadian public on this bill is an understatement.

Next there is a not a serious criminal justice expert in the country who thinks the conservatives are taking a balanced approach. They are not listening. And the opposition is not grandstanding. The opposition is standing up for common sense and taking a firm stance against a bill that is sure to do the exact opposite of what it is supposed to accomplish.

At any rate it looks as if the damn might be breaking, if only a little. Perhaps the Tories are going to engage in some dialogue and actually allow some amendments. We can only hope because Bill C-10 is a criminological train wreck sure to cause more despair than comfort and sure to cost us an arm and leg.

Update 11.22.2011: I have been following the clause by clause review and it is becoming clear there is going to be no movement whatsoever on this bill.

http://www.canada.com/news/Feds+Quebec+discuss+crime+bill/5734581/story.html

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anonymous / November 22, 2011

I have been following the clause-by-clause circus sideshow as well, and cannot believe that this is actually called a committee.

However, what stunned me even more than the conservatives’ stance was that, while the NDP argued against increasing the pardon application waiting period for summary convictions, they *SUPPORTED* increasing it for indictable offenses (from 5 years to 10 years). That totally blew me away.

NOTHING the NDP said publicly about pardons suggested they would support an increase from 5 to 10 years. In fact, they seemed dead set against any increases.

And even though it’s clear that whatever the NDP proposed would have been shot down by the conservatives, I still can’t believe they took that stance.

I’m sure it won’t keep them up at night, but I had been considering donating to the NDP and possibly even becoming a member. No more.

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Michael Ashby / November 23, 2011

I didn’t realize that was their position and am also surprised about it. The distinction of 5 and 10 years for different categories of indictable offence makes perfect sense. Lumping them all together again in favour of a stiffer penalty, ie. waiting period, seems like a step backward. Clause by clause circus side show is an excellent description of what’s going on in this so called “debate”.

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anonymous / November 23, 2011

Hi Michael,

Here’s the snippet from the CBC’s live blog of the clause-by-clause stupidity:

“We’re now on a Harris amendment that would shorten the period for some pardon — sorry, record suspension — applicants to three years from the five proposed in the bill. He notes that this wouldn’t prevent someone’s name from showing up on CPIC, or in other databases — there is no valid reason, in his view, to void the notion that persons who meet the test should be eligible to apply. ***As for the proposed increase to ten years for an offence punished by indictment, the NDP supports that, but five years for summary offences is “unnecessary”.***

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Michael Ashby / November 23, 2011

Thanks Anonymous. I watched as closely as I could yesterday but to say it was tedious is a gross understatement. I can only imagine that the NDP was trying to arrive at a compromise, which is obviously a total waste of time. The Tories have made it clear they will continue to act like spoiled children. I see the whole fiasco as just one big set up for a variety of Charter challenges. If my organization had the kind of funds necessary for such a thing I would challenge the pardon measures myself. Unfortunately, it is well beyond the financial reach of a small non-profit like the National Pardon Centre. Thanks Again.
Michael

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anonymous / November 23, 2011

Hi Michael,

I appreciate some of what the NDP is doing, but frankly and honestly, I’m disappointed by how they’ve handled this. They knew this fight was coming, and yet they named to their Shadow Cabinet a rookie Public Safety critic who has been all but invisible.

And despite the fact that, yes, the NDP has to pick a new leader, again, they KNEW that this was going to happen in the fall and I think they should have at least postponed their convention until the summer. Bill C-10 isn’t just a crime bill. It’s going to change the very fabric of Canadian society — because it’s impact is far, far beyond crime. I mean, even if we look past the ideological insanity of what’s going on, it’s DOUBTLESS that the provinces will have to pick up at least some of the tab here — which means less funds for education, health, transportation…and so on. So, again, this isn’t just about crime. It’s about Canadian society.

I know you know this (better than me and most people, in fact), so I’m just venting here. I just expected much more fight from the NDPs — because this is the very definition of a ‘social justice issue.’

The way I see it, they decided a while ago to ‘live to fight another day’ and work on repealing these if they get elected in 2015 (that’s a big IF). Maybe from a political strategy point of view, that was the right (read: expedient, pragmatic) move. But from a social justice perspective, it was in my view a sellout.

I’m actually much more impressed (surprisingly) by what the Liberals are doing, including their current campaign to get lawyers involved by advertising in lawyer trade publications.

Anyway, more venting…

And yes, this thing is rife with charter challenges.

My cynical conspiracy theory is actually that Harper wants to send this to the Senate ASAP so that it gets out of the public spotlight (does anyone really care what the Senate does…or who Senators are?). And then I think he’s going to prorogue parliament in the new year — just before parliament returns — and then call everyone back in March or so, with a new budget that will include some candy for the provinces to smooth acceptance of the bill, which will by that time take a (far) back seat to economic policies and issues.

We’ll see how it unfolds.

Can you believe this is Canada?

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Michael Ashby / November 24, 2011

Hi Again,

Feel free to vent again any time you like. I understand your sentiment. Let’s face it though. The NDP were not prepared to become the official opposition and I don’t believe anyone thought it would happen. If Bob Rae had been running against Harper instead of Michale Ignatieff I feel somewhat confident that the Tories would have been held to a minority government. Bill C-10 will pass and I am not sure any amount of fight could change that. But remember that Harper is appealing to a very small base with this one. I am not sure how long it can go on without costing him support.

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anonymous / November 24, 2011

Hi Michael,

Thanks for letting me vent! And thanks for your understanding as well.

I agree that the NDP weren’t prepared to be the official opposition, but as steep as the learning curve for that might be, I still think there were enough veterans in caucus to see this coming and make adjustments. Again, I think they should have put a very strong personality in the Public Safety critic role (not a rookie who might not be an MP at all after 2015). I also think they should have postponed their leadership convention to this summer, so that Joe Comartin could have remained Justice critic.

Do I think it would have helped the outcome? Who can say now. But what I DO think is that one of the reasons Harper decided to keep this particular campaign promise (while he’s breaking others, like the balanced budget), is because he wanted to expose just how feeble the NDP are when it comes to defending an issue that, let’s be frank, it should OWN. I mean, if the NDP can’t defend the ‘social justice’ territory…what else does it have? That’s the heart of its platform and identity, and Harper just ripped it out.

History says, yes, he’ll pay for that. But it could take a while, and people’s lives will be crushed in the process.

OK — vent over. I’ll stop now 🙂

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