Safe Streets and Communities Act
The Safe Streets and Communities Act is a bill that was passed by the 41st Canadian Parliament 154-129 on March 12, 2012.
When Parliament re-convened in September 2011, the Minister of Justice introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act, an omnibus bill of nine separate measures. The measures include replacing the pardon system with 'record suspensions', mandatory minimum sentences for certain sexual offences and mandatory minimum penalties for certain drug offences, making it illegal to make sexually explicit information available to a child, increasing prison sentences for marijuana offences, reducing the ability of judges to sentence certain offenders to house arrest, allowing immigration officers to deny work permits to foreigners who are at risk of being sexually exploited, and enabling Canadians to sue state sponsors of terrorism for losses due to an act of terrorism.
A particularly contentious aspect of the bill was the proposed enhancement of powers given to government authorities to monitor online communications, but this proposal was abandoned after an online petition opposing those measures garnered over 70,000 signatures.
The bill is causing much controversy. While the Canadian Police Association said the bill would work towards keeping communities more safe, it added it was concerned about the cost. The Quebec government said it would refuse to pay for the bill, calling it a short-term "Band-Aid solution." The Ontario government would also refuse to pay. Texan conservatives Judge John Creuzot, Republican Representative Jerry Madden, and Marc Levin also spoke out against the bill; according to Madden, "It's a very expensive thing to build new prisons and, if you build them, I guarantee you they will come. They'll be filled, OK? Because people will send them there."
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