Getting Tough on Crime
November 16, 2021
Ottawa Journal (November 16 – November 20, 2021)
David Tilson, M.P. (Dufferin-Caledon)

In 2006, our Government committed to getting tough on crime. Over the last three-and-a-half years, we have successfully cracked down on gun, gang, and drug crime, to make our streets and communities safer for all Canadians. We have successfully done this by taking clear and decisive action, such as swiftly passing significant pieces of legislation that send a clear message to criminals – you do the crime, you will do the time. Just recently, our Government introduced additional pieces of legislation to reinforce this message to criminals.
   
White collar crime may not be violent, but it still has a devastating impact on victims and their families. On October 21, 2009, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Mr. Daniel Petit, M.P. for Charlesbourg-Haute-Saint-Charles and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, introduced legislation to provide tougher sentences for fraud, to help combat white-collar crime. Our Government is committed to creating a two-year mandatory jail sentence for fraud over $1 million and adding new aggravating factors that can be considered when handing down sentences in fraud cases. These aggravating factors would include:
  • the financial and psychological impact of the fraud on the victim, given the victim’s particular circumstances, including their age, health, and financial situation;
  • if the offender failed to comply with applicable licensing rules or professional standards; and
  • the magnitude, complexity, and duration of the fraud and the degree of planning that went into it.

The proposed legislation would also ask judges to consider requiring offenders to make restitution to victims in all fraud cases. It would permit the court to order the offender not to take employment or do volunteer work involving authority over other people’s money. The court would also be permitted to receive a Community Impact Statement that would describe the losses suffered as a result of a fraud perpetrated against a particular community, such as a neighbourhood, a seniors’ centre, or a club. 
   
On October 28, 2009, The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Mr. Daniel Petit, M.P. for Charlesbourg-Haute-Saint-Charles and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, announced the introduction of legislation to end sentence discounts for multiple murders. Under the current system, individuals convicted of multiple murders serve their life sentences concurrently and are, therefore, subject to only one 25-year parole ineligibility period. The only current exception to the single parole ineligibility period rule occurs when a convicted murderer commits another murder while in prison.
   
Families of victims argue that the fact that life sentences for multiple murders are served concurrently devalues the lives of victims and puts Canadians at risk, by allowing multiple murderers to be paroled earlier than merited, based on the seriousness of their crimes. The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code would address this problem by allowing judges to impose consecutive parole ineligibility periods on individuals convicted of more than one first- or second-degree murder.
   
Our Government was also very pleased with the recent granting of Royal Assent on two important pieces of legislation – Bill S-4 and Bill C-25. Bill S- 4 now provides police and justice officials with important new tools in the fight against identity theft, a fast-growing crime throughout North America. It creates three new "core" identity theft offences targeting the early stages of identity-related crime, all subject to 5-year maximum prison sentences:
  • Obtaining and possessing identity information with the intent to use the information deceptively, dishonestly, or fraudulently in the commission of a crime;
  • Trafficking in identity information, an offence that targets those who transfer or sell information to another person with knowledge of or recklessness as to the possible criminal use of the information; and,
  • Unlawfully possessing or trafficking in government-issued identity documents that contain information of another person.

Bill C-25, strictly limits the amount of credit granted for time served in custody prior to conviction and sentencing. The courts have now been provided with clear sentencing guidance and limits for granting credit for pre-sentencing custody. These include:
  • making it the general rule that the amount of credit for time served be capped at a 1-to-1 ratio (i.e., give only one day of credit for each day an individual has spent in custody prior to sentencing);
  • permitting credit to be given at a ratio of up to 1.5 to 1 only where the circumstances justify it;
  • requiring courts to explain the circumstances that justified a higher ratio; and,
  • limiting the pre-sentencing credit ratio to a maximum ratio of 1 to 1 for individuals detained because of their criminal record or because they violated bail.

Canadians have told our Government they want decisive action on crime and we have delivered.
We are establishing sentences for criminals that reflect the severity of their crimes. This is part of our tackling crime agenda and gives Canadians greater confidence in our justice system.
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