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Gun bill vexes Toews;
Fears rough ride in Senate
A watered-down bill that would put gun-wielding criminals behind bars for lengthy prison terms barely passed through the House of Commons in Ottawa Tuesday and is now before the Senate.
Much to Treasury Board Vic Toews' chagrin, Bill C-10 looks substantially different now than it did upon introduction and only calls for a five-year minimum mandatory sentence for first conviction of a serious gun crime and seven for subsequent offences.
The NDP teamed up with the Conservative minority government to pass the bill while several Liberals -- including all three Manitoba Liberal MPs -- voted against it.
"Manitoba Liberals could not even bring themselves to vote in favour of a more lenient version of the original bill we proposed," said Toews. "All three voted against it despite the fact it was a free vote."Manitoba's three Liberal MPs are Ray Simard (St. Boniface), Tina Keeper (Churchill) and Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre).
Neville said the bill was poor legislation because it stripped the judiciary of its sentencing powers and refused to support it.
"It flew against the advice of many people in the justice system," said Neville, adding sentencing is often best left to judges after they've heard all the evidence in a case and not legislators."You have to leave the discretion to the judiciary."She said her main concern with the bill was an escalating clause that would send criminals to prison for longer sentences with subsequent offences.
Toews is not optimistic that senators, many of whom were appointed by Liberal governments, will be quick to put the stamp of approval on the bill."I'm very worried the Liberal Senate will try to kill it," he said from Ottawa.
Source: winnipegsun.comMore on Tory Law and Order Agenda on prisonjustice.ca:
Concerns Over New Law Restricting Conditional Sentencing
Tory Bill Increasing Mandatory Minimums for Gun Laws Facing Critics In Justice Committee
Three Strikes Bill
Mandatory Minimums and Gun Crimes, Banning Conditional Sentencing
Justice Committee Guts Tory Bill Banning Conditional Sentencing
Other Resources on Bill C-10:
Summary of Bill C-10(pdf)
Canadian Criminal Justice Association Position on Bill C-10
John Howard Society of Canada on Bill C-10
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies on C-10 (pdf)
Canadian Bar Association (CBA) on Bill C-10 (pdf)