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I applaud Stephen Harper getting tough with his omnibus crime bill - Some of the previous opposition amendments will be stripped out, no new ones will be accepted, and it will be a matter of confidence.
This is important legislation that Canadians demand. The political shenanigans of the opposition parties caused it to be abandoned in the unelected Liberal-dominated Senate last session.
My guess is that Stephane Dion will not only be forced to go along with this bill, but will also be expected to expedite its passage through the Senate. If the Senate obstructs democracy again, I don't know what kind of leverage Harper will be able to apply, but it would definitely provide an excellent example of why Senate reform is crucial.
There were two interesting letters in today's Post that are related to this bill. First we have one from James Morton of Steinberg Morton Hope & Israel, Toronto:
One of the key elements of Tuesday's Throne Speech was the omnibus Tackling Violent Crime bill. The controversy over the legislation is far more apparent than real. Anyone dealing with the justice system knows a major overhaul of the criminal system is long overdue--indeed, the strongest complaint that can be leveled against the proposed crime bill is that it does not go far enough.
The reforms proposed are, for the most part, straightforward and reasonable. A dangerous offenders bill that puts the onus on criminals convicted of three violent offences to show they should not be taken out of society is hardly a significant attack on civil rights -- to require someone thrice convicted of serious violent offences to explain to a judge why they should be released into society is not an onerous burden. Overall, these initial revisions to the criminal law are long overdue.
So let's see speedy passage. If the opposition wants to fight an election on this one, then go ahead and make my day!
Part of this omnibus bill is the move to raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16, with a close-in-age exemption of 5 years. I really can't understand anyone objecting to this bill. However, it appears that Ken Erickson of Calgary doesn't like it:
I fail to see how raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 will protect young people from predators. If anything, it will lead to wrongful convictions and criminalize consensual relationships among youth. Even with close-in exemptions, this proposed legislation will drive sexual activity underground, away from the scrutiny of parents and friends. Given that there is no objective evidence to lend credibility to such legislation, one can only assume that the Harper Conservatives are playing to their religious base -- to the detriment of the country. Someone should remind the Conservatives that Canada is not a theocracy.
"This proposed legislation will drive sexual activity underground, away from the scrutiny of parents and friends"????
So, instead of a 40 year old jerk diddling a 14 year-old right under her parents noses, they might have to take a room somewhere? Is that what he's trying to say?
This legislation is designed to help convict predators. It is not going to punish the children. It is going to protect them. Coercion is often difficult to prove the way the law reads now. This will give police and parents an improved method to protect youngsters.
But Mr. Erikson's attempt to paint this as a religious issue is pitiful, really.
It's not the agenda of some wacko religious zealots, Mr. Erikson.
It's a matter of protecting children while they are still vulnerable. Why do you have a problem with that?