The Tory Government, led by the Honourable Rob Nicholson, Conservative M.P. for Niagara Falls has brought forward the Safe Streets and Communities Act (2011), fulfilling its Speech from the Throne promise to re-introduce law-and-order legislation to combat crime and terrorism. The current Canadian version of the Conservative Parliament re-introduced some reforms debated in the last session to The Safe Streets and Communities Act, stating a commitment to law and order.
Canada's Harper government and the 41st parliament introduced the September 20, 2011 new legislation designed to restrict the ability of certain types of criminals to obtain pardons for their offenses to qualify for jobs. This is meant to filter them out from employment where they would be a risk around children, the ill, or the elderly.
There is an emphasis on protection against violent and sexual crimes, especially against those who are underage. The law is made to protect the young; there are also sections that generally state that criminals will have less access to the public and more difficulty finding work when that job is one where a clear criminal record is an important requirement.
Minister Nicholson stated: "I am proud today to announce that our Government has fulfilled its commitment to Canadians to produce legislation to make our streets, families and communities safer. "We campaigned on a promise to get tough on child sexual offenders, crack down on illegal drug trafficking, and improve the overall efficiency of our judicial system. Canadians gave us a strong mandate to bring forward these reforms."
They used this chance to announce laws such as The Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act (former Bill C-54); The Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act; Sebastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders); The Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act: The Increasing Offender Accountability Act; The Keeping Canadians Safe Act; The Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act - and other great-sounding titles that further enhance the justice system to whatever amount that may or may not affect you.
Another part of the law doubles the minimum sentence for marijuana production from 7 years to 14, but go on to include an aggravating factor of "for the purposes of organized crime" ….but who's going to define what type of crime will be called organized. A small conspiracy of a criminal nature is organized but they're not hiding around every corner or necessarily a violent threat to the public. Their lawyers could have an uphill battle proving that they're not The Mob when the police might have a couple of bags of evidence and a list of phone numbers. It may not be a definition stretched out too far right now but ideally we should be seeing a better society with more freedom with more freedom where a pardon application isn't the only thing standing between a person and a job. The Government, however, wants to make it clear that some offenses are off-limits when young victims are involved.
The Act provides provisions to increase higher penalties for possession of date-rape drugs in order to cut down on the incidents involving GHB and flunitrazepam, by moving these up to a higher drug category, schedule 1. Penalties have been increased for offences involving dealing drugs around schoolyards or to children. Moreover it will be taken more seriously when drugs are produced nearby and constitute a hazard to the children in the immediate area.
Long called for by many I'm sure, but as we all know most good law is common sense; when laying down rules you should keep in mind that more laws lead to more laws. The Judge who rules on each law may have some draconian sentences up his sleeve if he comes upon a case that qualifies. The Canadian pardons process as it is spelled out in The Safe Streets and Communities Act won't guarantee certain types of employment to every ex-offender.