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Local MP decries Tory crime bill

By admin | May 8, 2010

Source: Nelson Daily News (CN BC)
Front Page
Address: 266 Baker Street, Nelson, British Columbia V1L 4H3
Fax: (250) 352-2418
Copyright: 2010 Nelson Daily News
Author: Colin Payne

Local MP decries Tory crime bill

Alex Atamanenko says the new crime bill by the federal government that would
impose mandatory minimum sentences on marijuana growers is ineffective and
panders to the party’s voter base.

“The Conservatives are selling this bill on organized crime, but the reality
that we’re finding is. . . that mandatory minimum sentences do not deter
organized crime. They usually affect small dealers, street level
traffickers, but not violent offenders,” the BC Southern Interior MP said.

The bill was passed in Parliament in December 2009, but amended in the
Senate by Liberal senators to remove the clause that would see people found
guilty of growing six to 200 plants get a minimum of six months in jail

When the government prorogued Parliament in February for the Olympics, the
bill fell off the table along with a number of others – but was reintroduced
to the Senate by the government on Wednesday.

All that could result from the government’s proposed new crime law would be
an overcrowded justice and corrections system which will place a burden on
the provinces to fund, Atamanenko said.

He added that the move is a shift toward an American-style system that the
United States is currently moving away from because of expensive,
overcrowded prisons.

Atamanenko pointed out his party, the NDP, and former Liberal governments
have all focused on a “four pillar” approach to justice that focuses on
prevention, treatment and harm reduction – but the Conservatives have
strayed far from that system.

“It their 2007 budget the Conservatives introduced their new anti-drug
strategy that removed all references to harm reduction,” Atamanenko noted.
“Seventy three per cent of the drug policy budget is spent on enforcement.”

He feels putting people in jail for growing small amounts of marijuana is
not sensible policy.

“The idea of someone with a few plants of marijuana getting a minimum of six
months in jail, it doesn’t make any sense at all,” Atamanenko noted.

“It’s designed to appeal to the hardcore Conservative base. It’s
oversimplified. It targets street level users and small traffickers and
doesn’t address the problems of organized crime.”

The bill must pass through Parliament again before being made into law.

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