"Conservative Government Acts to Eliminate Pardons for Serious Crimes”
Pardon me!? That was the reaction by many Canadians last month when it was revealed that convicted sex offender and former minor hockey coach Graham James was granted a pardon for his crimes by the National Parole Board.
Our Conservative Government was shocked that we were only learning of it three years after the pardon was granted without our consent. Since then, the country has been further dismayed to learn that the parole board grants pardons to 99 percent of those who apply for one, regardless of the severity of their crimes.
This week, my colleague, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, introduced legislation in the House of Commons to eliminate pardons for serious crimes and to revamp the current system.
Currently, the “pardon” system implies that what the offender did is somehow okay, or is forgiven, or that the harm done has somehow disappeared. Yet victims, like those of Graham James, will tell you that they struggle to live with what was done to them every day.
Our proposed legislation would replace pardons with “record suspensions” which would be granted in more limited circumstances. Anyone convicted of a sex offence against a child would be permanently ineligible for a record suspension. Those convicted of more than three indictable offences would also be permanently ineligible. In all other cases, Bill C-23 would increase the time an offender would have to wait to apply for a record suspension.
We are currently calling upon the opposition parties to act swiftly to protect our children and communities, and to better reflect Canadians’ natural sense of justice, by passing this legislation as quickly as possible.
Another development in the courts this week also highlighted the need for our Conservative Government’s Youth Criminal Justice legislation to be passed.
Two youths who savagely beat an Ottawa hockey rink volunteer, and a hockey player who tried to come to his aid, were sentenced to just 20 months in jail. With credit for time served (another loophole in our justice system targeted by our Government for reform), one of the convicted youths will be released after just 21 more days of "open custody and community supervision"! The other youth received an additional eight-and-a-half months of this so-called "sentence".
The open-custody facility that netted the youths ‘extra credit’ for time served allowed at least one of them to go to movies, bowl and play golf.
Meanwhile, their first victim is permanently brain-damaged and now requires a cane to walk. The player who tried to help him had his orbital bone broken in three places and had two of his teeth knocked out.
Under Bill C-4, our Conservative Government is proposing, among other measures, to require the courts to consider adult sentences for youth convicted of the most serious crimes, including murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Yes, it is important to offer the opportunity for rehabilitation to those who want it or are capable of being rehabilitated and contributing to society AFTER they’ve served their time. However, above all, a "JUSTICE" system must also hold criminals accountable for their actions and keep our communities safe.
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