Federal minister warns that election would kill tougher crime bills

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan warned Wednesday that a federal election would jeopardize efforts by the Conservative government to get tough on crime.

HALIFAX — Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan warned Wednesday that a federal election would jeopardize efforts by the Conservative government to get tough on crime.

Van Loan said if the Liberals force an “unnecessary vote” it will kill several bills currently on the order paper.

“What is of concern with an election looming is the number of pieces of legislation that we have on the tackling crime front that would be at risk,” he told a news conference shortly after announcing almost $2 million in crime prevention spending.

Van Loan cited several examples including legislation to increase sentences for major drug crimes and tighten the rules for parole.

One of them is a Tory bill that would change the so-called faint hope clause, which currently gives some people convicted of serious crimes a chance at early parole.

“That (bill) would die on the order paper,” he said.

Van Loan denied that the Halifax crime prevention announcement was in any way campaign-like, adding that the government has been outlining similar program spending across the country over the past year.

“There’s nothing new in this, it’s just that the opposition has traditionally come from the other parties to have tougher laws,” he said.

Liberal justice critic Dominic LeBlanc called Van Loan’s comments hypocritical, noting that it was Prime Minister Stephen Harper who dissolved Parliament last time, killing his own proposed legislation.

LeBlanc said the intent of comments like Van Loan’s is clearly to scare people.

“It’s fearmongering of the worst kind,” said LeBlanc.

“This is the first government where if you ask a question about any criminal legislation you’re in favour of drive-by shootings or grow-ops.”

LeBlanc accused the Conservatives of being the first party in a couple of generations to politicize public safety and criminal law reform.

“It’s a race to the basement with this government.”

Van Loan said the money he announced Wednesday would provide resources to help young people make better choices may keep them out of gangs.

The money is being given to the Mi’kmaq Legal Support Network, The Chebucto Communities Development Association and the Atlantic Co-ordinating Committee on Crime Prevention and Community Safety.

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