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Canadian Senate Passes Harsh Crime Bill

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #724)
Politics & Advocacy

The Canadian Senate last Thursday night gave its approval to a government package of crime measures that include a number of harsh provisions, including mandatory minimum prison sentences for growing as few as six marijuana plants. The bill, C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, now heads back to the House of Commons for final approval.

Canada's Senate Chamber
The bill has already passed the House, but members will have to approve amendments adopted by the Senate that more clearly define terrorist activities and how victims of terrorism can seek compensation from groups or states that support terrorism.

Passage in the Senate came after ruling Conservatives used their majority to limit debate on the measure to six hours. Liberals objected vociferously, but in vain. The only Conservative to vote against limiting debate was Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin, a long-time advocate of marijuana and other drug law reforms.

"Canadians are expecting us to pass this," said Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan, explaining that the rush to passage was necessary because the government had promised to pass the legislation within a hundred days of taking office. "The best way to ensure the population is not jaded when it comes to politics is to keep our promises."

Liberals argued that there was enough opposition to the bill that every senator deserved to be heard on the issue, but that argument didn't fly with the Conservative majority.

"There is no excuse for what this chamber is about to do," said Liberal Sen. Joan Fraser. "We should be ashamed of ourselves."

The Senate vote came despite heated opposition, both from within Canada, where various polls show consistent majority support for marijuana legalization, and internationally. The Global Commission on Drug Policy this week urged Parliament not to pass the bill, while Law Enforcement Against Prohibition also urged the Conservatives to reconsider.

While the bill is now almost assured of final passage, opponents have vowed to carry on the fight in the courts. Once the bill becomes law and goes into effect, look for quick challenges to its constitutionality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Carl (not verified)

Dissolve the borders? No such thing. And Mexico at least partially decriminalized very petty drug possession.

The US pressures or coerces Canada and Mexico drug policy. And everywhere else. UN mandated drug policy alignment is international and virtually worldwide.

Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:35am Permalink
Alex Rai (not verified)

I'm quite sure Harper would dissolve the Constitution if he had any say in it; fortunately he doesn't.

It looks bad I agree, but he probably just managed to lose the next election. One sure way to put an end to voter apathy by young people is to take away their weed.

Sat, 03/03/2012 - 1:29pm Permalink
Quite Annoyed (not verified)

Vote conservative they said...It will be better for Canada they said..

I'd rather have a bunch of bartenders and garage door salesmen working the house of commons than the Conservative crooks and scum currently in power.

Harper is trying to be the lapdog of Obama, when it should be clear that we Canadians want none of it. Even big comissions have warned Harper about his decision to pass this bill, yet all the warnings go in Harper's left ear and out the right ear without ever being acknowledged or scrutinized.

Stop voting for American lapdogs as Prime Minister. If you want to live the American life, I can personally guide you to the border.. I'll even carry your bags!

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 3:32pm Permalink
AMERICAN CONVICT (not verified)

Those who voted for this bill are probably recipients of big pharma donations that have a vested interest in opressing natural drugs of all kinds. Additionally private prisons and police unions always vote for imprisonment for anything as it improves their income and provides more slaves for profitable prison slave contracts and provides more income from the taxpayer for imprisonment...that's how america does it anyway.  Even in states without private prisons the prison industrial complex is kept alive by ever increasing penalties against completely harmless behavior.   It would not suprise me if the same financial interests were driving a move to advance a police state in your country also.  Look for the money in this and the opportunity to fatten the power of government bureaucrats (resulting in pay raises) and you will find the actual motivation for this law. Welcome to america Canada,,,,soon you will have the right to be tortured or murdered by your own government without even being charged with a crime... just like we do. Maybe if you're lucky you can get yourself into a bunch of wars so that people who make machine guns can finally buy that island they always wanted. Welcome to america.....canada.

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 4:29pm Permalink
Anonymous123 (not verified)

This is a terrible step backward for our freedoms and liberties...  Truly a sad day if this passes...  As each day  turns to the next I am slowly hating a country I onces loved so much...

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 6:45pm Permalink
geenuts (not verified)

For those of you who are wondering, this could be considered a human rights violation because

"... it is possible for the mandatory punishment, in a specific matter or reasonable hypothetical case, to be “grossly disproportionate,” given the gravity of the offence or the personal circumstances of the offender." 

taken from ""

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 7:27pm Permalink
Kyle (not verified)

I voted conservative and would consider myself conservative but the idea that my tax money will be going to build more prisons to house these non violent criminals makes me sick. I like the idea of tougher crime laws but not for non violent crimes, put the violent criminals behind bars. I dont want to be paying out the yahoo for some kid who got caught with some weed! What century is this? On an unrelated note when was the last time  anyone bought a bottle of booze from some shady dude in an alley? Legalize and control weed, the demand is out there lets tax it and reap the benefits make some money instead of throwing it away its what any TRUE conservative would do

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 8:14pm Permalink
TLB (not verified)

In reply to by Kyle (not verified)

I voted conservative for their fiscal policies.  I thought they couldn't do too much harm in a few years if they got the finances in order, but they've far exceeded my worst fears in every way while not even managing the money properly.  It's going to be a long time before I could even consider voting Conservative again.

Mon, 03/05/2012 - 1:59pm Permalink
Patrickz (not verified)

Hissing and complaining at conservatives won't do anything positive, even though they smell of stupidity or deceit.


This bill takes us in the wrong direction, however. I feel that if we have a really harsh bill, the next government will be forced to remove it and liberate people more freely. Sort of like what happened with east and west Germany. After the Nazi regime, east German citizens lost a lot of privileges, but when the wall fell they got them all back plus some (Great education system, healthcare, etc..)


Its going to be a waiting game until this world sorts its problems from its politics, and until then, the responsiblity will fall squarely on the shoulders of people who can read and write, and think for themselves.

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 8:33pm Permalink
HootzMcGinty (not verified)

In reply to by Patrickz (not verified)

You know right that east and west berlin were split for till pretty much till the end of Coldwar. The americans government is more like to Soviets than that Nazi's

Sat, 03/10/2012 - 4:27pm Permalink
winston smith (not verified)

Which conservative policies did you vote for? Building more prisons while crime rates are dropping is something Harper campaigned on! Why are you surprised he wants to do it? Or did you miss this while you were voting in favour of the policies of internet spying, outlawing birth control, teaching creationism in schools, closing hospitals and firing teachers ? Or did you vote conservative just to ban gay marriage?
Sun, 03/04/2012 - 8:44pm Permalink
Ralpho (not verified)

You voted for them you got it.

Nothing would be more important than getting them out of office.

Because you too will be a police state like America if you dont.

Million's of forced slave prison workers.

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 9:10pm Permalink
What happened … (not verified)

You are not representative of society if you make decisions against their will. It's not a "I know best" position you have inherited. Listen to the people and do your job. There are many arguments for the decriminalization of marijuana, and many of the advocates are non-smokers. There is a much heavier burden on the system for moving this bill forward and no real degree of reasoning can rationalize this ramification.  Preschool antics of 'drugs are bad' is a poor banner to carry your argument. The 'prohibition on alcohol' should not be a reoccuring theme in our democracy. Learn from our governments past mistakes and rectify them. There are examples of nations that have legalized marijuana and they are still standing. I am not a smoker personally, but I can still fathom the damage this will cause, the same way I can acknowledge the damage the prohibition caused. I am not largely into politics, but anyone supporting this bill is blissfully ignorant to the workings of the world around them, and many Canadians will suffer as a result -- unnecessarily.

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 10:56pm Permalink
darkcycle (not verified)

These same policies led the US to become the world's biggest prison state. Now we're trying like hell to undo it and claw the freedom we once had back from draconian forces will hold on to the death. We've sacrificed an entire generation of the poor and minority members of our communities to our own Gulag Archipelago. Taken their ability to get an education, or even a job and permanently relegated them to an underclass that will produce nothing, and sap resources for the rest of their lives.

It seems incomprehensible that a nation as close and culturally similar to ours could look at our example and seek to emulate it.  God help you all. Your guy Harper? He's a madman.

Sun, 03/04/2012 - 11:39pm Permalink
Doug (not verified)

This is a true disgrace. Harper that crazy evangelical really needs to be taken down a notch. The entire conservative party is literally pure evil, and mean to destroy everything Canada is. W e need to stop these criminals. My Grandfather saw his friends get blown to smithereens, and burned to a crisp in WW2 for Canada, for freedom and equality. It is a very dark time, when a psycho like this can complete hijack our parliamentary process. What is sad, is this is happening around the world. The NWO is gripping our earth, and it is time to stand up and say NO. We cannot leave our earth in the hands of these mad men. They think of the common man as a peasant. They could care less to see your life and that of your family's completely destroyed. Rise up people, and say NO MORE! Lets take OUR earth back, because it is OUR birthright.

Mon, 03/05/2012 - 10:49am Permalink
Nemo (not verified)

The cartoon where various opponents said that Harper was two-faced and would begin to ignore the people for his special interest buddies as soon as he became PM? I wish it were on YouTube because it was very prescient indeed.

Canadians! If you want to know how you wound up with Mr. sake-Eyes, Google the following:

Harper Versailles France 2003.

You won't like what you read. Like our Presidents, this is how your PM is actually picked...and not picked by YOU.

Tue, 03/06/2012 - 10:54am Permalink

Like many of my friends, I had grown to think of Canada as a saner version of what the US might have become had the right people been put in charge in our own country.  I guess I was wrong.  It appears that Canadian politicians must be just as craven to corporate interests and given to pandering to reactionary illiterates as our own.  Still hope I'm wrong.

Tue, 03/13/2012 - 7:12pm Permalink

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