“Get used to it.”
That’s what Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl is saying to opposition MPs crying foul after the Conservative government muscled an omnibus crime bill through Parliament with its new majority .
Conservative MPs voted this week to limit debate on Bill C-10, which will now go to a committee dominated by the Conservatives for further study.
Liberal and NDP MPs had shot down most of the nine bills now “bundled” in the new Safe Streets and Communities Act when the Conservatives had only a minority government.
But Strahl said the new law-and-order legislation has already been “debated extensively” and it delivers on a campaign promise made by the Conservatives in the last election.
“We received a strong mandate to crack down on crime,” he said. “Certainly in the Fraser Canyon I got that message loud and clear.”
Gwen O’Mahony, an NDP candidate who ran against Strahl in the last election, said she worries about the cost of enforcing the new bill and the “mega-prisons” that will need to be built.
“Where’s the money going to come from?” she asked. “Are we going to cut other badly-needed programs to pay for prisons?”
She criticized the Conservatives for taking a political approach rather than a “multi-disciplinary approach” that would address the problems of mental illness and poverty that lead to crime.
And the crime rate in Canada is already falling, she said.
“We all want to see a system where we have justice,” she said. “But it’s the difference between being tough on crime and being smart about crime.”
Strahl said the bill will put “serious criminals” behind bars for crimes they might have gotten only house arrest or probation.
“We’re talking here about a large number of crimes being committed by repeat offenders,” he said. “If somebody’s behind bars, they can’t reoffend.”
Some of the provisions of the new bill include:
• increased penalties for sexual offences against children, as well as two new offences aimed at conduct that facilitates or enables sexual offences against a child;
• tougher sentences for the production and possession of illegal drugs for trafficking purposes;