Pardon bill agreement reached

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said an agreement has been reached between all federal parties to pass a bill that would prevent notorious offenders like Karla Homolka from applying for a pardon.

Homolka factor adds to haste

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said an agreement has been reached between all federal parties to pass a bill that would prevent notorious offenders like Karla Homolka from applying for a pardon.

Toews said the NDP and Bloc Québécois have signed on to support the legislation, and the Liberals are just looking over some minor details.

"I can say that in respect of the critical elements of our bill, so as to prevent notorious criminals from receiving a pardon, we have an agreement," Toews told reporters.

Toews said they split off the bill, meaning the new proposed legislation is not the full bill that the Conservatives had originally proposed. The rest of the bill will remain in committee as C-23B to be studied in the fall.

Toews said it wasn't everything he wanted, but that a compromise was essential to get legislation in place before summer.

Under the deal, the National Parole Board would be able to deny any pardon that would bring the system into disrepute

As well, the period of ineligibility for a pardon would increase to five years from three for summary conviction crimes, and to 10 years from five for more serious indictable offences.

All those convicted of serious violent offences would be prohibited from applying for a pardon for 10 years.

The urgency for the bill stems from revelations that Homolka could apply for a pardon on July 5 if the legislation is not passed.

Asked by a reporter if the bill would specifically prevent Homolka from applying for a pardon, Toews said: "I believe that people like the individual you mentioned would not fit the criteria for a pardon."

The opposition parties had been pushing back, saying that the government is using Homolka's name as a way to get badly drafted legislation passed without proper scrutiny.

The NDP had proposed splitting the bill so that the part that would pertain to criminals like Homolka could pass quickly while the rest of the legislation could be considered later. Toews had dismissed that possibility, saying the NDP's alternative "effectively guts" the government's proposed legislation.

Some Liberals had expressed concern that the Conservatives are using Homolka's name to pressure the opposition to pass the bill hastily.