Canada passes controversial crime bill

March 13, 2012 at 10:11 AM
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OTTAWA, March 13 (UPI) -- Canada's Conservative majority government has forced a controversial crime and justice overhaul bill through Parliament that critics say no one can afford.

Despite days of opposition procedural delays, Bill C-10 passed Monday night in Ottawa by a 154-129 vote, the Globe and Mail reported.

The sweeping legislation was opposed by the Canadian Council of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives for its aggressive toughening on law enforcement, prosecution, mandatory sentencing and pardons.

The bill increases sentences for sexual offenses against children. It also allows victims of terror attacks to sue perpetrators and increases the penalties for drug crimes, where possession of six marijuana plants will carry a mandatory 6-month prison term.

Several provinces expressed concern in recent months the bill would require building new prisons and add more of a burden to the court system of hundreds of millions of dollars which they can't afford.

In response, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson told reporters Monday night there would be federal-provincial consultations and the bill's implementation would be spaced into steps, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.

The bill now requires the formality of royal assent in which the governor general signs it into law. The date for that wasn't immediately known.

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