Published by Senator Grant Mitchell on 16 October 2009
There is some confusion about what is going on with the alleged Liberal delay of the current Conservative crime bill (C-25) in the Senate.
This is the bill that would mean that instead of getting a 2 for 1 credit for time served in jail before a conviction, a criminal would get no extra credit. The government has argued that criminals and their lawyers delay their cases so they can build this credit and ultimately shorten their stay in jail. You might ask the question: Have you ever seen what remand centers are like? This doesn’t seem to me like a place that anyone would want to stay no matter what the advantage might be.
As the committee responsible reviewed the bill, five Liberal Senators decided to amend the legislation. They kept the credit, but decreased it to 1.5 instead of 2 because they were concerned about the overcrowding that would occur as a result of the government’s bill.
Now, Senators certainly have the right to raise issues like this. The constitution calls for them to do it. There is tremendous cost in the government’s policy change and Canada is running a $56 billion deficit already.
However, the Senate Liberal leadership determined that we would fix the issue. So, the very next day, after the amendments in committee, the Chair of the Committee, Senator Joan Fraser, presented the report of the amendments for consideration by the Senate. It was clear to me that the full contingent of Liberal Senators in the Senate would defeat the amendments and pass the bill.
Senator Joan Fraser asked for unanimous consent so this could be done that very day. Usually, once a report of this nature is presented it is debated two sitting days later instead of right away. However, with unanimous consent of the Senate, a report of this nature can be debated the same day it is presented. It could then have been passed that day.
So, why did the Conservatives not give unanimous consent? They could have had their bill Thursday, October, 8, 2009.
I ask you, who exactly is delaying the bill, then, and why?
Interestingly, on October 16, 2009, the government announced a plan for dealing with the increased prison space that will be required due to their various crime bills and eluded to the significant expenditure that this will require. I doubt that this is a coincidence. The Senate does have an impact.