*** All these get-tough-on-crime bills...aren't they off the table thanks to the proroguing of parliament? MS ***
Whenever Stephen Harper is backed into a corner, truth is the first casualty.
Witness Mr. Harper’s comments yesterday in Truro, Nova Scotia, regarding to the sentencing of Amin Durrani, one of the Toronto 18:
"This government brought in a law this past fall that would eliminate that provision in the criminal code so that these types of criminals and terrorists would no longer have those types of sentences. Unfortunately it could not apply to this. It took us a long time to get this through Parliament because, as with so many other of our laws, they were fought every step of the way including in the Senate of Canada where Fred (Dickson) and our Conservative senators fought a pitched battle. The Liberals kept gutting our legislation and we kept changing it back and we finally got it through and so finally this two-for-one and in some cases three-for-one credit for time served has been eliminated... let me just say this to remind you why there will be more Conservative colleagues joining Senator Dickson in the Senate to make sure these kinds of laws go through even quicker in the future."
Stephen Harper is being disingenuous on four fronts:
1. Even though the bill has passed, it would not apply in the case of Mr. Durrani. Harsher sentencing provisions cannot be applied retroactively; offenders are only subject to the Criminal Code that was in place at the time they committed the crime. In the case of the Toronto 18, sentencing provisions in place in 2006 would apply.
2. Liberals called for this bill before the government introduced it, having joined with several of the Western Attorneys General to call for the elimination of two-for-one credit for time served in response to the escalation of gang violence in Vancouver in early 2009.
3. Liberals helped this bill speed through the House. In fact, it would have passed sooner if the government hadn’t insisted upon dealing with other legislation first. More to the point, the Senate dealt with the bill quickly. The government introduced it in the Senate right before Parliament rose for the summer, effectively preventing it from being passed at that point. Once the Senate returned, it was passed in about a month.
4. Finally, although the bill has passed and received royal assent in October 2009, the Harper Cabinet still has not brought the law into force – a delay which is 100 percent the fault of the government.