“In 1988, Mr. Nicholson vice-chaired a Parliamentary committee that released a report recommending mandatory minimum sentences not be used, except in the case of repeat violent sexual offenders. The committee found, based on testimony and the U.S. experience, that the law didn’t work and increases prison populations” reports The Hill Times.
That is a very sensible position. As sexual offenders of any kind do pose a threat to society mandatory jail sentences are necessary not only as a deterrent but also to remove those individuals from society. As drug addiction only harms society because prohibition raises the price of drugs allowing gangs to thrive and more than 2/3 of government funding of the “War on Drugs” goes to enforcement with very little going towards treatment/prevention mandatory minimums for drug offenses are ineffective and regressive.
Rob Nicholson of 2006-2010 has spent his time in government attacking the Liberal Party of Canada, falsely, for being “soft on crime” for opposing the same failed policies that Rob Nicholson of 1988 opposed. The Winnipeg Free Press and the Toronto Sun have both recently taken Stephen Harper’s do nothing government to the woodshed blaming Liberal Senators for the Conservative Government’s own “dumb on crime” approach.
Nicholson insisted the record shows “the Liberals are soft on crime.” He accused Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff of making a show of supporting tough legislation in the Commons but then allowing Liberal senators to “obstruct, delay and gut some of our most important measures.”
But he could point to only three specific bills: C-15; C-26, a bill to crack down on auto thefts; and C-25, a bill to end the practice of crediting convicts with two days of time served for each day spent behind bars before trial.
C-25 is not, perhaps, the best example for the government to dredge up. After a mere 19 days in the upper chamber (compared to 36 days in the Commons), the so-called “Truth in Sentencing” act was in fact passed by senators last Oct. 21. It received royal assent the following day.
Yet, after all the badgering of supposedly foot-dragging senators, cabinet decided it could wait four months – until Feb. 22 – to actually bring the law into force.
“They could’ve made it effective the next day,” Liberal Senate leader James Cowan said in an interview.
“If ever there was an example of the facts differing from their rhetoric, that’s a pretty good one.”
On C-26, Nicholson complained the bill has been “stuck” in the Senate for six months.
But the six-month tally doesn’t take into account the fact that the bill was handed over to the Senate just before Parliament broke for the summer. By the Liberals’ count, the bill had actually been before the Senate for 38 working days by the time of prorogation – four days fewer than it took to get through the Commons.
Indeed, the Senate has regularly spent far less time examining and voting on bills than the House of Commons, which has taken as much as 95 days on some crime legislation that never got beyond second reading debate.
Given the government’s own foot-dragging, Cowan questions whether Harper is really serious about passing his criminal justice agenda, or simply wants an excuse to keep reintroducing measures that allow him to bash the Senate and accuse the Liberals of being “soft on crime.”
“It makes you wonder if they’d rather talk about it than actually do it.”
From “Harper not so tough on crime“:
“Of those, 11 were sitting somewhere on the Commons agenda, and only three bills were anywhere near the Senate at the time of their demise.
One of those three, one repealing the so-called “faint hope” clause for lifers, arrived in the Senate less than two weeks before the place went dark.
The second bill that died in the Senate when Harper prorogued parliament dealt with auto theft, and went to committee in the upper chamber the week before the Christmas recess.
The third piece of legislation lost in Harper’s official lights-out provided mandatory minimum prison terms for anyone caught with more than five marijuana plants.
That bill was so urgent that it first was introduced by the Conservative government in 2007, but was killed by Harper’s calling of the 2008 election. It was resurrected, debated and died again when Harper recently shut down parliament.
Thank goodness the prime minister has stuffed another five political pals in the Senate.
The world will surely be a safer place.“
Though Justice Minister Nicholson has had a change of heart on mandatory minimums, Canadians have more than enough evidence to be certain that Stephen Harper will be maintaining the mandatory minimum of hypocrisy required to be part of the Conservative Party of Canada.