Conservatives set to put omnibus crime bill to a vote
The House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa is pictured on Sept. 22, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, March 7, 2012 1:58PM EST
OTTAWA, Ont. - The Conservative government is poised to make good on its election promise and vote in a sweeping crime bill that will swell the prison population and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says the omnibus legislation, which includes nine, separate crime-related bills, will crack down on child predators and violent drug traffickers.
After some minor amendments in the Senate, the bill gets its final vote in the House of Commons tonight -- well within the deadline of 100 sitting days promised by Prime Minister Stephen Harper during last spring's federal election campaign.
The government says the bill will lead to safer communities and fewer victims of crime, although it has never set a measurable target for assessing crime reduction.
The bill's many critics -- including former tough-on-crime crusaders in the United States -- say bitter experience shows that the move to mandatory minimum sentences, longer jail terms and less judicial discretion won't increase public safety but will prove costly.
Questions over the cost of crime measures -- and the government's unwillingness or inability to provide a detailed budget -- helped spark the contempt-of-parliament charges that led to last spring's election, which the Conservatives turned into a majority mandate.