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Conservatives force through crime bill

Dec. 6, 2011 at 11:09 AM

OTTAWA, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Canada's Conservative government used its majority to force a sweeping crime reform bill through Parliament in Ottawa.

The omnibus bill is made up of nine smaller bills the Conservatives weren't able to get passed as a minority government, the National Post said.

It passed by a vote of 157-127 Monday night.

The Safe Streets and Communities Act is widely seen as a get-tough approach to crime and punishment, calling for mandatory jail time for growing marijuana, making it tougher to get parole and stricter sentencing for young offenders, the Post said.

The Canadian Bar Association lobbied against the bill, alleging it was based on a flawed U.S. system that resulted in a prison overcrowding crisis.

Meanwhile, the two most populous provinces of Ontario and Quebec have indicated they can't afford the new costs being downloaded to them by the bill, the Globe and Mail said.

Ontario's Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Madeleine Meilleur, said in a letter to her federal counterpart "it is not appropriate for one level of government to create financial burdens for another without discussion and an appropriate financial offset," the Globe said.

Quebec said the new bill could cost as much as $545 million to implement in the province as the bill stands now.

The Conservative-dominated Senate is likely to pass the bill before the end of the month and would go into effect March 16, 2012, the Post said.

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