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Irwin Cotler: Bill C-10: The Debate that Wasn't

Irwin Cotler: Bill C-10: The Debate that Wasn't
VERY good analysis of the arrogant and draconian push through of this terrible bill-- "It is quick to judge mentally ill persons as criminals not meriting treatment without taking into account mental health considerations and whether treatment might be more appropriate. It is quick to judge and abolish conditional sentencing -- and eliminate the related judicial discretion -- without taking into account aggravating and mitigating factors through its use of mandatory penalties. Indeed, the government was quick to judge that this omnibus legislation was necessary -- again, in the absence of evidence to the contrary -- when, in fact, crime in this country is decreasing..."...Perhaps most distressing was the government's rejection of opposition amendments, such as those I proposed to the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, because it eventually realized the merit of these amendments and had to re-present them as their own in the Senate. This is the reason we are again debating C-10 in the House. The debate on these provisions would not have happened had the government simply read my amendments and accepted them -- or offered sub-amendments that I would have accepted -- rather than dismissing them all merely because I am a member of the opposition.
Further, the Government sought to justify its intemperate haste by invoking the title -- the Safe Streets and Communities Act -- as if the very title alone validated the legislation; and, if any questions were raised or critiques offered about the bill, the government repeated the mantra -- as it has throughout this process -- that it had a "mandate" for its enactment. Yet, every government and every party has a mandate and obligation for safe streets and safe communities. The real question -- the one that needed to be debated but never was -- is the merits of the means chosen.
I say the debate that "never was" because one need only have watched the debate or read the record to see that government did not take Parliament seriously.... The bundling of nine major pieces of legislation into one omnibus bill and the imposition of closure in both the House and in committee deliberations, thereby not allowing for the necessary and differentiated parliamentary discussion and debate, let alone the necessary oversight of the legislation. - including:
  The removal of the requirement that corrections administrators use "the least restrictive measures," generating yet another constitutional concern relative to incarceration and potential cruel and unusual punishment.
The inclusion of other constitutionally suspect provisions in the legislation, including:

· Severe, excessive, disproportionate, and prejudicial mandatory minimum sentences;
· Vague and overbroad offences;
· Undue and arbitrary exercise of executive discretion; and
· Unconstitutional pre-trial detention issues  - etc. etc.

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