Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that a re-elected Conservative Government will build on its tough-on-crime approach by ending sentencing discounts for child sex offenders, doubling the victim surcharge and making it mandatory, and expanding drug-use monitoring in prisons.
“Our Government has made standing up for victims of crime a priority,” said Harper. “A re-elected Conservative Government will build on our accomplishments in this critically important area to ensure all Canadians feel safer in their communities.”
The Conservative Government recently passed Bill C-48, which eliminates sentencing discounts for multiple murderers. Previously, criminals convicted of more than one murder could be given concurrent sentences, with the effect that serial killers and other multiple murderers would serve, in effect, only a single sentence, irrespective of the number of actual victims. Bill C-48 implements consecutive sentences for these crimes so that the harm suffered by every victim is reflected in sentencing.
A re-elected Conservative Government will expand this principle of consecutive sentencing to offenders who commit sex offences against children, including offences related to making, distributing, possessing or accessing child pornography. Harper stated that “we must ensure that punishment of these heinous crimes better reflects the devastation caused to children and their families.”
“We will also amend the Criminal Code to double the federal victim surcharge and make it mandatory,” said Mr. Harper. “In too many cases, courts are routinely failing to impose the fine they are supposed to levy against criminals — a fine that is intended to help support victims of crime.”
The Criminal Code dictates that the victim surcharge is supposed to be imposed unless an offender can prove undue hardship, but recent studies show that courts are waiving the fine in a large majority of cases, with no apparent justification, resulting in less funding to support victims and more lenient sentences for offenders.
“Finally, we will take steps to reduce or eliminate drug use in prisons by expanding monthly drug tests to ensure that 100 per cent of federal prisoners are tested annually and ensuring additional charges for possession of illicit substances”, said Mr. Harper. “Concrete measures to end drug use in prisons will improve rehabilitation prospects for prisoners, and make the federal prison system safer for both guards and inmates.”
Mr. Harper noted that these measures will add to the important list of law-and-order initiatives undertaken by the Conservative Government over the past five years. “Despite the best efforts of Mr. Ignatieff and his Coalition partners, the NDP and Bloc Québécois, to obstruct and defeat our tough-on-crime legislation, we will continue to stand up for victims of crime and Canadian communities.”