Tories pass omnibus crime bill

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Rob Nicholson. (REUTERS/Blair Gable, file)

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Rob Nicholson. (REUTERS/Blair Gable, file)

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 8:05 PM ET

OTTAWA - The centrepiece of the Conservatives' law-and-order agenda cleared its final hurdle Monday.

MPs voted 154-129 to pass Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill that rolls nine pieces of legislation into one.

The bill was shunted back to the House of Commons after being amended in the Senate.

"It's been a long time coming," said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson Monday.

"This will be welcomed, particularly by victims (and) those involved with law enforcement."

But the Opposition cautioned it may not be smooth sailing for the Tories despite this victory, noting Ontario and Quebec have both complained loudly about having to swallow related costs.

Quebec has hinted it may refuse to pay the tab.

The feds have shrugged off the complaints and said it expects the provinces to handle additional costs with their federal transfer payments.

"It's very possible there will be more battles," said interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel.

Last week, New Democrats used procedural delays to slow the implementation of the bill, bumping the final vote back a few days, but the Tories were able to deliver on their election promise of passing C-10 within 100 sitting days.

The legislation has the support of victims' rights advocates and police forces. It also got a high-profile push from Sheldon Kennedy, an ex-NHL hockey player and sex-abuse victim.

But critics have derided Bill C-10 as a "legally illiterate," "draconian" and costly piece of legislation that will do little to make Canadians safer.

Among the most contentious elements of the bill are new mandatory minimum sentences, which stakeholders warn could cause overcrowding and lead to disproportionate sentences for small-time drug offences.

Critics also say harsher penalties for violent and repeat young offenders would make it harder for them to turn their lives around.


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