MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.

In full ?pre-election? mode, the Martin Liberals are getting the jump on Santa Claus as they use taxpayers? money to dole out goodies and dangle sweets before voters? eyes. Suddenly, the Liberals appear ready to offer some ?half-measures? of the tax cuts and policies long advocated by the Conservative Party of Canada. Of course, they?ll claim them as their own.

We?re used to that. But what I will not accept is the opportunistic misuse of the name of a well-respected Member of Parliament who passed away earlier this year. Chuck Cadman was an avid proponent of justice reforms designed to protect the rights of victims NOT convicted criminals. Throughout his years as an MP, he tabled several excellent pieces of legislation that the federal Liberal government callously sloughed off as unnecessarily ?tough on crime?.

Now that Mr. Cadman has passed away. Now that Canadians are demanding his bills be passed to honour his memory. Now that a federal election is on the horizon. Now, the Martin Liberals claim they?re willing to enact Mr. Cadman?s legislation.

Yet the legislation the Liberals are attempting to pass off as Mr. Cadman?s is nothing more than watered-down Liberal-style soft-on-crime gruel! That includes a government bill to address auto theft passed this week by Liberal and NDP MPs. The Liberals added phrases and significantly changed words so that the bill does NOT honour Mr. Cadman?s efforts to combat vehicle theft.

If the Liberals truly want to honour Mr. Cadman?s memory, they would table legislation to scrap the use of conditional sentences for violent crimes and drug crimes. That is the kind of legislation that Chuck supported for many years.

oon after the Liberal legislation, Clause 742.1 of the Criminal Code (conditional sentencing), took effect on September 3, 1996, courts across the country began granting conditional sentences to convicted murderers, rapists, child molesters and drug dealers.

I was particularly horrified, like many BC residents, by the ?get out of jail free card? given to Darren Ursel in early 1997 after he viciously raped a single mom with a racquetball racket in Abbotsford. In a more recent example, a Prince George judge took away Teresa Senner?s email privileges but allowed her to stay home on a conditional sentence after she stabbed and killed Norman Wicks.

My first attempts to have this legal loophole closed began in March 1998 with a private members? motion. Since then, I had it written into a bill and have re-introduced it in each Parliament. It is now known as Bill C-257. It sets out a specific list of serious and violent offences for which a conditional sentence would not be allowed.

Rumour has it that Canadians? growing anger over child molesters and murderers not going to jail for their crimes has Justice Minister Cotler tempted to introduce legislation restricting conditional sentencing. I?ll believe it when I see it.

As I said eight-and-a-half years ago in condemning conditional sentencing for violent crimes, ?The Liberals government has had a choice to put the rights of victims over the rights of criminals. It chose criminals every time.?

This week demonstrated this is never going to change.