While Stephen Harper is preparing to recall Parliament, the anticipated whirlwind session will see a fulfillment of the Conservative’s legislative priorities. The return to the Commons is going to be framed using four broad priorities: the budget’s “low-tax plan for jobs and economic growth” to aid the recovery and their “low-tax plan for families,” including the budget’s tax cuts; legislation to crack down on elder abuse; slaying the deficit; and the omnibus crime bill.
Tabling the omnibus crime bill containing a rewrite of justice laws will fulfill their tough-on-crime agenda. This crime bill will be a bundle of 11 pieces of law-and-order legislation wrapped into one bill that the Conservatives promised to pass within 100 days of taking power.
The 11 justice bills that will comprise the omnibus crime bill would:
- Crack down on organized drug crime
- End house arrest for serious and violent criminals
- End house arrest for serious personal injury offences such as sexual assault
- Eliminate pardons for serious criminals
- Establish tougher sentences and mandatory jail time for sexual offences against children
- Strengthen the handling of violent and repeat young offenders (Sébastien’s Law)
- Give law enforcement and national security agencies up-to-date tools to fight crime in today’s high-tech telecommunications environment
- Give the government more discretion when considering requests to transfer Canadian prisoners to Canada from other countries
- Provide police and the courts more tools to investigate and prevent terrorism
- Allow victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism in Canadian courts
- Streamline long and complex trials
This pledge has recently been clarified as being 100 sitting days in the Commons. Thus, the crime bill could take until the fall to be made into law. Time then seems to be on their side, so to speak, giving the Conservatives a chance to review all its components and consider the consequences.
The Tories’ “Here for Canada” plan focuses on five key priorities:
- Creating jobs through training, trade and low taxes.
- Supporting families through our Family Tax Cut and more support for seniors and caregivers.
- Eliminating the deficit by 2014-2015 by controlling spending and cutting waste.
- Making our streets safe through new laws to protect children and the elderly.
- Standing on guard for Canada by investing in the development of Canada’s North, cracking down on human smuggling and strengthening the Canadian Armed Forces.
Will Mr. Harper be able to achieve his justice bill pledge, see the crime bill reach fruition in 100 sitting days? Or will the Conservatives, given the benefit of time to consider its ramifications, take a more gradual approach that allows Canadians to understand its impact more fully and to provide input.