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Conservative omnibus crime bill a confidence matter   Politics Watch « News Services
October 18, 2007, updated 5:13 p.m.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn and Public Works Minister Michael Fortier unveiled the Conservative government's omnibus crime bill on Parliament Hill Thursday.

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) —  Canada's Conservative government introduced a comprehensive omnibus crime bill Thursday that could trigger an election if the opposition parties defeat it.   

Four Conservative cabinet ministers were surrounded on a stage by representatives from local police and victims groups when the official announcement was made on Parliament Hill. 

The Tackling Violent Crime Act is a repackaging of Conservative crime bills from the last Parliament that did not complete the legislative process. 

The measures in the bill include: 

> Mandatory jail time for serious gun crimes; 
> Tougher bail rules for gun crimes; 
> Raising the age of consent to 16 from 14; 
> Cracking down on drug impaired driving;
> Ensuring high-risk dangerous offenders face tougher sentences.  

"The prime minister has indicated because this is a national priority and a priority of our government that Bill C-2 is a confidence bill," Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said. 

"We will be holding particularly the Liberals to account on this. If they are serious on getting tough on crime ... then they should have no problem in expediting this bill through the legislative process in both Houses of Parliament."

Normally, money bills and the throne speech are the only types of legislation that are viewed as confidence matters. 

The decision to make the omnibus crime bill a confidence matter appears to be designed to once again put pressure on Liberal leader Stephane Dion

On Wednesday, Dion announced he would not defeat the government's throne speech primarily because he did not want to trigger a federal election. 

After the omnibus bill was tabled, Dion accused the Conservative government of playing a "game" by making the bill a confidence matter and said putting all the bills in one omnibus bill was unnecessary. 

"Three of these bills are ready for the Senate, are ready in the Senate," Dion told reporters after question period. "One was third reading. The other one was going well in committee. It's a game and it's a game because they want to go in election."  

Dion would not confirm whether his party would oppose or support the omnibus bill, saying the Liberals will look at it.

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe also would not comment on whether his party would support or oppose the bill. 

NDP justice critic Joe Comartin said his party wants the bills be re-instated to the stage they were at the time of prorogation, thereby ensuring speedier passage in parliament. 

The omnibus crime bill is the first piece of legislation introduced by the Conservative government in the new session of Parliament which began this week. 

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