We have been active in Ottawa to lobby the government for a fair hearing on the new proposed Pardons Legislation Bill C23. We do not want proposed strict new rules in the legislation to affect thousands of people who have committed less serious crimes as a result of their concern over the Karla Homolka issue.
Here is a response letter sent to us from Jack Layton, the leader of the NDP party:
Thank you for taking the time to contact our office. It is a pleasure to hear from you and I appreciate having the benefit of your comments and experience as a program director at Pardons Canada.
As you have correctly pointed out, Bill C-23, presented by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, would have made significant changes to how pardons are issued. The bill was presented at the very end of this session of parliament, and, as such, a rush was placed on the legislation to ensure that Homolka would not receive a pardon. New Democrats realized that the Homolka pardon was being used as a hot-button issue to stamp through this bill, which deserved significantly more thought and consideration than we had time to do at the end of the session.
We, as New Democrats, did not want to see such a violent criminal receive a pardon, but also realized that the entirety of Bill C-23 could not receive our consent, as it was too far-reaching. C-23 would change the rules for the issuing of pardons for not only violent offenders, such as Homolka, but non-violent offenders, as well. This is why, thanks to the significant work of Welland MP Malcolm Allen, we managed to pull and vote on only the amendment that would prevent Homolka from receiving a pardon. It was a move that all parties could agree upon, instead of simply acting on a reactionary response to one violent criminal.
It has always been the New Democrat belief that being smart on crime is far more effective than simply being tough on crime. People make mistakes, and it is unfair to forever blacklist an individual for being an ex-offender. That is why we have a pardon system in place, and to completely reinvent the wheel in a matter of days is not only short-sighted, it`s dangerous.
I have taken the liberty to forward a copy of your email to NDP critic for Public Safety, Don Davies. He is also the Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security which will discuss and review Bill C-23 during the next parliamentary session.
Thanks again for taking the time to write. All the best.
Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada`s New Democrats
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