Justice Minister Peter MacKay was busy today defending his victims'-rights legislation, which will give to crime victims some statutory rights in the criminal-justice system. With justice reform in the news, I thought it would be a good time to update my campaign seeking tougher laws against chronic, prolific offenders.
|Photo: The Tri-Cities Now|
Well, since then, we've heard from both the FCM and Mr. MacKay himself in response to the motion. First, on April 1, the city received a letter (dated March 17) from Mr. MacKay informing us that his office had received the motion, and that he had shared our correspondence with "appropriate departmental officials."
"I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Council for its efforts to help ensure the safety of residents in the Coquitlam community," Mr. MacKay continued. "Our government is committed to strengthening the criminal justice system. I can assure you that Department of Justice Canada officials work closely with their provincial and territorial counterparts, as well as municipalities and police services, to address the issue of chronic offenders."
He then went on to explain how Ottawa is currently reviewing the bail regime in Canada. However, he did not specifically say he would embark on any new initiative designed to define "chronic, prolific offender" in the Criminal Code so that the current revolving-door in the courtroom can be slammed shut. When a chronic, prolific offender with 100 theft convictions gets the same slap on the wrist that someone with half a dozen convictions receives, it's just not right. Let's hope that that tackling the chronic-, prolific-offender issue is high on Mr. MacKay's to-do list.
Meantime, on March 24 Coquitlam received an e-mail from Diane Belanger, the FCM's administrative and resolutions coordinator, who advised us that our resolution was considered by an unspecified FCM committee which, in turn, recommended to the board in March that the resolution be sent back to staff for further analysis. The board concurred, and the motion will now be brought back to the September board meeting.
All in all, it's about as much action as I would have expected at this point. I'm pleased that both the FCM and Mr. MacKay have considered the motion seriously and have responded to us. Frankly, I don't expect to hear much more from the federal government on this, but will keep my fingers crossed that, in September, the FCM's board will decide to move the motion to the floor of the next FCM convention.