Federal crime bill discussed at justice minister meeting

The federal government's new crime bill was on everyone's mind at day two of the meeting of justice ministers Wednesday in Charlottetown.
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson came to the second day of meetings for provincial justice ministers. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

The federal government's new crime bill was on everyone's mind for the second day of the justice ministers' meeting Wednesday in Charlottetown.

Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson joined 17 provincial justice and public safety ministers at their meeting.

On Wednesday morning, ministers talked about drug treatment programs and drug courts, and ways for drug-addicted criminals in some cases to avoid new mandatory minimum sentences.

However, Bill C-10, the Harper government's so-called "tough on crime legislation" dominated much of the discussion again Wednesday.

Bill C-10 includes tougher sentences for sexual crimes committed against children, the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug crimes and changes to young offender laws.

View Bill C-10 in its entirety

The bill passed final reading in the House of Commons last month and heads to the Senate next week.

Some provinces — including P.E.I. and Ontario — are concerned about the cost of implementing it.

Ontario's Correctional Services Minister said it will cost $1 billion to implement the bill. She said if the federal government doesn't chip in, the province will have to cut services elsewhere.

"It is pretty clear that the administration of justice is paid for by the provinces and that is part of their constitutional responsibility. And over the years I have appreciated the suggestions that they have made," said Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.

"Over my five years as justice minister we have incorporated many of them, but every time we make changes to the Criminal Code, there is a cost."

The meeting will wrap up Thursday.

The ministers will issue a joint statement then on any consensus reached about how to deal with the new bill and its price tag.