MP tries to change crime bill

‘They rushed it’; Tories recognize it’s flawed: critic


Postmedia News

In a strange twist Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews tried to change the government’s own omnibus crime legislation by introducing a number of amendments, only to have the speaker of the House rule them as inadmissible.

Speaker Andrew Scheer said the six amendments, all related to victims of terrorism suing perpetrators and foreign states that sponsor such acts, should have been introduced at the committee level instead of during the final stages of approval.

The government has been rushing the controversial omnibus bill through the parliamentary approval process, including limiting debate in the House and the number of committee hearings dedicated to the studying the 150-page document.

NDP justice critic Jack Harris said the fact Toews was trying to change the bill at the last minute showed some Conservatives are concerned with the legislation even as the government tries to push it through in a hurry.

“They themselves recognize it’s flawed by putting forth a half a dozen amendments this morning which were ruled out of order because they could have been actually moved in committee,” he said. “They rushed it through committee, as we know. They’re rushing through legislation to meet their political agenda.”

A spokesperson for Toews did not respond to the speaker’s ruling, saying only that passage of the bill is a government priority and “we are always interested in measures to improve our legislation and put victims first.”

Scheer ruled on 82 other amendments introduced by the opposition, rejecting a large number and dividing the remainder into five groups that will be dealt with separately.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson criticized opposition parties for the large number of amendments, accusing them of trying to stall its approval.

“They’re doing anything they can to derail it or slow it down,” he told Postmedia News, “but Canadians elected us on the mandate to move forward on these issues and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Parliament is expected to vote on the bill, titled the Safe Streets and Communities Act, next week.

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