Inside Politics

Government's next anti-crime salvo to target mentally ill

Via today's Notice Paper, we learn that the Conservatives will soon make their opening move in the law-and-order legislative game plan unveiled by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson earlier this week by bringing forward a bill that would crack down on accused persons deemed Not Criminally Responsible due to mental disorder.

According to the backgrounder released by the department, the government intends to make sure that "public safety is the paramount consideration in these cases."  At a press conference last fall, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore highlighted the need to review the current law, and pointed to the conditional release of former doctor Guy Turcotte, who was found not criminally responsible for the 2009 deaths of his two children, which he called "unacceptable."  As yet, however, neither Moore nor his colleague at Justice have provided specific details on how they plan on changing the bill, which means that we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out just what they have in mind.

It's also worth noting that, by proceeding through stand-alone legislation, the government seems to be tacitly confirming that it has no immediate plans to roll the entire next phase of its justice agenda into one big burrito-style bill. If that's the case, it likely bodes well for the prospect of far more scrupulous scrutiny than was accorded to the voluminous -- and infamous -- C-10 omnicrime bill in 2011.

UPDATE: As intrepid Canadian Press reporter Bruce Cheadle points out on twitter, "Public protection is already part of 'Not Criminally Responsible' court verdicts," as well as the review process for determining release. You can read a Department of Justice backgrounder on the issue here
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