Omnibus Crime Bill Passes Final Vote In House

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CRIME BILL OMNIBUS CANADA
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson touted the government's omnibus crime bill Monday morning, which is now at its final stage in the House of Commons. | CP

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.

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