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Harper and Canadian Cops Promise Mandatory Minimums for Cannabis

by CC Staff (03 Apr, 2006)


Canada's Parliament was in session today for the first time after the election, and at the same time the new Prime Minister and Minister of Justice opened the Canadian Professional Police Association's Executive Board Meeting and conference. The first item on the agenda: More Power to Prohibition and Cops - a very ominous sign for the Canadian cannabis culture.

The following is a transcript of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's speech at the Executive Board Meeting & Legislative Conference of the Canadian Professional Police Association, available online
here. You can also listen to an audio version here.


Federal Government Plans to Fight Crime

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

It is an honour for me to be in the company of the professional men and women who are dedicated to keeping our streets and our neighbourhoods safe for families right across this country.

As national representatives of police officers in Canada, you are the first to see the dire consequences of increased crime involving guns, gangs and drugs.

As you know, Canada is a great country. And one of the things that has made it a great country is our traditionally low rates of crime. In fact, our peaceful, law-abiding communities are part of Canada’s traditional identity and values.

But times are changing. Our cities are changing. And the safe streets and safe neighbourhoods that Canadians have come to expect as part of our way of life are threatened by rising levels of crime.

Drug crime is on the rise. Gang crime is on the rise. And the homicide rate is on the rise as well. In the last few months and years, we have witnessed growing media reports of drug, gun and gang violence, especially in the city of Toronto.

These incidents appear no longer limited to supposedly "bad neighbourhoods", but have occurred in downtown centres frequented by families, workers, students and tourists.

Clearly this cannot go on. If we are to protect our Canadian way of life, we need to crack down on gun, gang and drug crime.

Canadians are tired of talk. They want action, and they want it now. And that's what Canada's new Government is going to do – take action. First of all, we'll hold criminals to account. We'll set mandatory minimum sentences for serious, violent and repeat crimes. We are going to hold criminals to account.

This means making sure sentences match the severity of crimes – and getting violent criminals off the streets so they can't re-offend. This Government will send a strong message to criminals. If you do a serious crime, you're going to do serious time.

That's why, during our mandate, we will take the following actions:

• We'll introduce mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug traffickers, weapons offences, repeat offenders and crimes committed while on parole;

• We'll end conditional sentences for serious crimes;

• We'll repeal the "Faint Hope Clause";

• And we'll replace statutory release with earned parole.

Parole will no longer be granted automatically – as it often is today. Parole is a privilege – and it has to be earned. Holding criminals to account will require more police. That's why we're also going to work with our partners in other levels of government to make sure there are more police officers on the streets.

This is of vital importance, because many police forces are currently underfunded and under siege. This situation carries dire consequences for public safety. The lack of police patrols inevitably leads to more crime and more serious crime. Canadians have told us that's something they can't live with.

So we're going to act by:

• Establishing a new cost-shared program with provincial and municipal governments to hire new police officers;

• Re-investing savings from the long-gun registry into front-line law enforcement;

• And investing new federal money into criminal justice priorities – including youth at risk programs.

When it comes to drugs, police officers and parents agree: we don't need more of them on our streets. The increase in the production and distribution of hard drugs is well documented. And if we legalize drugs like marijuana, it will make it easier for our children to get hold of it.

That is why my government is opposed to legalizing drugs -- especially because of the damage it can do to our cities and our communities because of increased addiction and crime. Instead, we will get drugs off the streets, away from our children and clean up our communities by:

• Ensuring mandatory minimum prison sentences and large fines are given out to marijuana grow operators and drug dealers;

• Introducing a national drug strategy, including a nationwide awareness campaign to discourage our youth from getting hooked on drugs in the first place;

• And not re-introducing the Liberal government's marijuana decriminalization legislation.

Finally, we'll get tough on sex offenders and those that prey on our children. We'll get tough on sex offenders by:

• Creating an effective DNA bank of all convicted sex offenders and dangerous offenders;

• Raising the age of consent for sexual relations between children and adults from 14 to 16 years old; and

• Establishing a zero tolerance policy for all forms of child pornography.

Canadians have told us they want our new government to protect the way of life that has made this country such a great place to live. They've told us they want to be able to go about their daily lives without having to worry about getting hit by a stray bullet fired by a gang member, or being killed by a street racer losing control of his stolen vehicle.

They've told us they want to get real on crime. And they want to put an end to gang, gun and drug violence. They want us to walk the walk – not just talk the talk. Canadians have told us they want action now – not more talk. And that's what we're going to do – working closely with organizations such as yours. By working together we can tackle violent crime and make our streets safer – and we will.

In closing, I want to thank you for your kind attention and, more importantly, for the invaluable and often dangerous work you do on behalf of all of us. I wish you well in your deliberations and I look forward to working with you to make this a stronger and safer country in the years ahead.