Omnibus Crime Bill Has Jean Charest Defending Quebec's Place In Canada
QUEBEC - Quebec Premier Jean Charest has found himself in an awkward spot today, thanks to a dispute over federal crime legislation.
The premier is being forced to defend the merits of Canadian federalism in the face of opposition attacks.
His opposition, the pro-independence Parti Quebecois, has been citing disputes lately with the new Conservative majority government as evidence Quebec and Canada don't really belong in the same country.
The latest example: the omnibus Bill C-10, which would toughen penalties for young and adult offenders.
The opposition says Charest has proven powerless and failed to get any respect from Ottawa when he tries raising Quebec's objection to the bill.
Charest is defending his government — and his country — saying that one disagreement isn't a reason to seek independence from Canada.
The Charest government has, however, vigorously denounced the federal legislation. One provincial cabinet minister this week said he couldn't recognize Canada in this latest gesture by the Harper government.
Quebec and other critics of the crime bill say it's based on flimsy logic and non-existent evidence; they say it could have disastrous consequences, not only for long-term crime rates but also for taxpayers.
Key Measures In Tory Crime Bill
The bill, known as the Safe Streets and Communities Act, includes the following measures: <em>With files from The Canadian Press</em> (CP/Alamy)
Child Sex Offences
Heftier penalties for sexual offences against children. The bill also creates two new offences aimed at conduct that could facilitate or enable the commission of a sexual offence against a child. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Tougher sentences for the production and possession of illicit drugs for the purposes of trafficking. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
Violent And Young Offenders
Tougher penalties for violent and repeat young offenders. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
An end to the use of conditional sentences, or house arrest, for serious and violent crimes (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
Allowing victims to participate in parole hearings. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
Extending ineligibility periods for applications for pardons to five years from three for summary-conviction offences and to 10 years from five for indictable offences. (Flickr: haven't the slightest)
Transferring Canadian Offenders
Expanding the criteria that the public safety minister can consider when deciding whether to allow the transfer of a Canadian offender back to Canada to serve a sentence. (JOEL ROBINE/AFP/Getty Images)
Allowing terrorism victims to sue terrorists and their supporters, including listed foreign states, for losses or damages resulting from an act of terrorism committed anywhere in the world.(STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Measures to prevent human trafficking and exploitation. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)