New crime legislation welcome
The Harper government’s long awaited stepped-up attack on crime is about to come into force with the implementation of tough new amendments to Canadian criminal law.
Made under the Safe Streets and Communities Act, the changes will target violent and other offenders and, according to the government, will, in turn, make Canadian communities safer as a result.
While no one can argue with the need to make sure criminals always take a distant second place to their victims, the success or failure of these tough-on-crime measures will depend a good deal on ongoing government and taxpayer support.
Over the next five months, starting this summer, the following changes will come into effect:
• Increasing penalties for sexual offences against children. Coming into force on August 9, amendments will increase penalties for sexual offences against children, as well as creating two new offences aimed at conduct that could facilitate the commission of sexual offences against children.
• Toughen up penalties for violent, repeat young offenders. Coming into effect Oct. 23, amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act will “better protect Canadians from violent and repeat young offenders and make the protection of society a paramount consideration in the management of young offenders by the justice system,” the government says.
• Targeting organized crime in the illegal drug trade. Coming into force on Nov. 6, amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act will target organized gangsters by imposing tougher sentences for the production and possession of illicit drugs for the purposes of trafficking.
• Ending house arrest for violent crimes. Coming into effect on Nov. 20, amendments to the Criminal Code will eliminate the use of house arrest, or conditional sentences, for serious and violent crimes.
“We are committed to ensuring criminals are held fully accountable for their actions and that the safety and security of law-abiding Canadians comes first in Canada’s justice system,” said Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson.
Of course, for these worthwhile new measures to work the government will also need to make sure that police, Crown prosecutors, and others involved in the justice system are adequately funded.
If Harper’s MPs don’t match these new tough-on-crime policies with a matching commitment to ensure that money is made available to make them work, all this effort will be wasted.
Justice Minister Nicholson says the government will “continue to fight crime and protect Canadians so that our communities are safe places for people to live, raise their families and do business.”
If adequately funded, these new measures may go a long way towards doing that very thing.