MacKay talks tough about crime

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Restoring faith in the justice system

AMHERST – Nova Scotia’s cabinet minister says his government is committed to keeping Canadians safe in their homes and on their streets.

AMHERST – Nova Scotia’s cabinet minister says his government is committed to keeping Canadians safe in their homes and on their streets.

“Canadians expect the justice system to keep them and their families safe. Our government is also committed to helping you protect all Canadians by tackling crime and restoring confidence in the justice system,” federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay told a meeting police chiefs and police boards in Amherst over the weekend.

MacKay said the government has strengthened many areas of criminal law during its mandate to create new offences and give police the tools to better investigate crimes and protect Canadians more effectively.

“No more soft on crime,” he said. “Our criminal justice system was going in the wrong direction, focusing more on the rights of criminals than the rights of victims. We committed to change.”

The minister said longer jail sentences for serious crimes are keeping criminals off the streets. He said government’s approach is “tough, yet balanced.”

Among changes it has proposed are involving victim participation in conditional release hearings, increasing offender accountability and authorizing police to arrest an offender who appears to be violating release conditions without the need for a warrant.

Cyberbullying, he said, continues to be a priority.

“This crime is not like the bullying we knew as children. It goes far beyond what is endured in the schoolyard. With the press of a button, a person can be victimized before the whole world,” MacKay said. The cyberbully can hide behind technology, but the damage to the victim can remain in cyberspace forever. While just a moment of bullying can be traumatic, forever is irreparable.”

Government is also getting tough on repeat impaired drivers and MacKay said he understands the frustration of police in arresting the same offenders over and over again – “sometimes after have killed or injured someone.”

MacKay said the government also stands for victims rights and is working to create the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, something Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong briefed officers about during the conference.

“We’ve heard that victims want the system reformed to include them in a more substantial way,” MacKay said. “They want to understand what is going on around them throughout the process, and what their rights in the process are.”

The minister told those in attendance that the federal government is committed to getting tougher with child sexual offenders by making them serve consecutive sentences as opposed to concurrent, while also increasing the minimum and maximum sentences for these offences.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Canadian Victims Bill

Geographic location: AMHERST, Nova Scotia

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