Crime bill vote pushed back to Monday

The expected passage of the government's omnibus crime bill has been pushed back to Monday.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, right, and Julian Fantino, associate defence minister and a former police chief, touted the government's omnibus crime bill Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The expected passage of the government's omnibus crime bill has been pushed back to Monday.

Debate on the bill is expected to continue in the House of Commons Friday, with a vote now slated for next week.

On Wednesday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson  and associate defence minister Julian Fantino, a former police chief, held an event to tout Bill C-10 in anticipation of a final vote on the controversial proposals in the House of Commons.

They were joined by representatives from victims' groups at a community centre in Woodbridge, Ont., where Nicholson said the bill meets the expectations of Canadians and is responding to what is happening on Canada's streets.

"It's been a long road ladies and gentlemen, but we are there," he said. "By moving to pass the safe streets and communities act our government is fulfilling our commitment to hold criminals fully accountable, protect families and stand up for victims of crime."

Addressing one of the main criticisms of the bill, Nicholson said tougher sentences will not create new criminals, it just keeps existing ones behind bars for a more appropriate amount of time.

"This is a step forward in protecting victims and standing up for ordinary law-abiding Canadians," Nicholson said. "I'm very proud to be associated with it and I look forward to its implementation."

Fantino said the government listened to law enforcement agencies and civilian organizations "on what needs to be done about crime, victimization and public safety in our country."

"This is a response to what Canadians want," he said.

Bill C-10 arrived back in the House of Commons Tuesday, returned to it by the Senate with six amendments.

It was up for debate for several hours, and after Nicholson reviewed the merits of the bill and tried to dispel myths about it, NDP justice critic Jack Harris stood and talked for more than two hours, until the allotted time was over and question period began.

The amendments that were made relate to the part of the bill that would allow Canadians to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism.

Bill C-10 is a comprehensive bill that makes sweeping changes to the criminal code, the corrections system, and the youth justice system.

A number of its measures have been controversial, particularly the introduction of new mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes and other sentencing changes that will put more people behind bars, and for longer periods of time.

The added costs of housing more offenders will largely fall to the provinces, which has provoked tense federal-provincial relations.

The Conservatives used time allocation motions several times with the bill to move it through its various stages in the House of Commons. It's a tactic that is derided by the opposition parties who say the government is trying to stifle the democratic process through its frequent use of time allocation on C-10 and other pieces of proposed legislation.