Senate Liberals amend crime bill
Canada recently came very close to finally closing a loophole many criminals were using to shorten their time in prison. That is, until, the Liberal party's Senate caucus used their majority in the Upper Chamber to amend the legislation.
A portion of the bill that would have abolished two-for-one sentencing provisions for time served prior to trial. Instead, the bill will allow for judges to grant 1.5 days for every day served prior to sentencing, with two-for-one sentencing permitted under extreme circumstances.
According to Liberal Senator Joan Fraser, the Senate simply exercised its prerogative to exercise "sober second thought".
"The whole point of having the Senate is for the Senate to give, as John A Macdonald said, 'sober second thought' to legislation that has been passed by the House of Commons," she inisted. "There's no point in giving sober second thought if it does not include the right to make such corrections as the Senate deems appropriate."
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, for his own part, isn't buying that.
"It's very disappointing," said Nicholson. "There's nothing wrong with this. This bill is perfectly constitutional -- we've looked at it very carefully. It has support of attorneys general from coast to coast. The idea that a couple of Liberal senators have a better idea on these things, I completely reject."
While Fraser and her Senate colleagues were second-guessing the time to second-guess the judgement of politicians who can actually be held accountable by their constituents, they also found time to try to find Manitoba and Alberta Justice Ministers Dave Chomiak and Alison Redford in contempt of the Senate for attending a press conference before flying out of Ottawa.
As justice issues continue to be vaulted to the forefront of the political agenda in Ottawa, the predominance of old ideologies on the topic of criminal justice remains as strong as ever in the Senate, where Liberal Senators seem to be intent on fighting "prison overcrowding" by doing whatever is necessary to ensure that criminals don't have to serve their time as mandated by the court.
Joan Fraser and her colleagues seem to think that they know better than everyone -- even as criminals continue to exploit two- (now one-and-a-half-) for-one sentencing provisions by doing things such as declining bail.
At some point enough has to be enough. Perhaps this recent abuse of prerogative will finally spur Canadians to stand up and overwhelmingly demand an elected Senate so that Senators can no longer impose yesteryear's ideologies without ever having to defend themselves in an election.
Other bloggers writing about this topic:
Rick Newman - "Senate Shenanigans"
Joseph Uranowski - "Conservatives Say 'No' To Checks and Balances"