Omnibus Crime Bill Passes Final Vote In House
The federal government's omnibus crime bill passed the final vote 157-127 in the House of Commons on Monday night.
Earlier Monday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson held a news conference in Ottawa to express his support for the proposed legislation and encouraged all MPs to vote in favour of it.
The Conservatives promised during the spring election to pass the Safe Streets and Communities Act within 100 sitting days of Parliament and Nicholson said the government is keeping its promise. He introduced the omnibus bill, a combination of nine previous bills, in September.
"Canadians voted in favour of this when they elected us to a majority government and we will deliver on the promises that we made to Canadians in the last election," Nicholson said.
The crime bill will now be put in the hands of the Senate, where the Conservatives also hold a majority.
Nicholson was joined at the press conference by Dale McFee, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and Elizabeth Pousoulidis, a representative of a victims group.
"Bill C-10 provides appropriate consequences for serious criminal acts and it will assist in strengthening the public's faith in the justice system," McFee said.
The Conservatives curtailed debate on the controversial bill at each of its stages and the opposition parties have complained about such a big piece of legislation being rushed through Parliament. The government has argued that because the bill contains measures from previous bills, MPs have had plenty of opportunities to consider the proposed changes to the justice system.
"Parliament has seen and debated these measures, some of them for as long as four years. The time for talk is over, the time for action is now," Nicholson told reporters.
He encouraged the Senate to pass the legislation "expeditiously."
The Safe Streets and Communities Act passed the report stage last week, amid some controversy because the government shortened debate on the bill and also tried, and failed, to amend it at the last minute.
The Conservatives had rejected proposed amendments made at the committee by opposition MPs and then days later tried to introduce virtually the same ones, measures related to the bill's anti-terrorism provisions. Speaker Andrew Scheer rejected the government's attempts to amend the bill, ruling that the amendments should have been pitched at the committee.
The government may now try to amend the bill once it gets to the Senate. Opposition MPs say the government's attempts to change the bill prove their argument that it has been rushed through Parliament without enough careful consideration.
If the Senate passes the bill with amendments, it would have to go back to the House of Commons for another final vote before receiving Royal Assent.
Bill C-10 combines nine previous bills that did not pass in previous Parliaments and makes major changes to several existing laws. Some aspects of the bill are supported by the opposition parties, such as tougher sentences for sexual crimes committed against children, but MPs have raised particular concerns about the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes and changes to young offender laws.
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)