White-collar crime bill returns to the House

The Tories have reintroduced the tough-on-crime legislation aimed at white-collar criminals that they first introduced last fall.

MONTREAL — The Tories have reintroduced the tough-on-crime legislation aimed at white-collar criminals that they first introduced last fall.

A pair of federal ministers went to Montreal to announce the re-introduction Monday of a bill that died on the order paper when the government prorogued Parliament.

In a repeat performance, victims’-rights advocates were again brought out to share a podium as Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Quebec lieutenant Christian Paradis promised tougher rules for fraudsters.

Those victims’ advocates and other experts, however, say Canadians would be better served with an increase in spending on resources and education than with mandatory minimum sentences.

The bill introduces tougher sentences, including a mandatory two years in jail for those who bilk their victims of more than $1 million.

“Fraud can have a devastating impact on the lives of its victims, just as much as if they’d been mugged in an alley,” Nicholson said.

The new rules will also give judges leeway in sentencing, particularly when large-scale fraud is committed or aggravating factors are at play such as a victim’s age or health.

A wider range of victim-impact statements could, under the new legislation, also be used in court.

The ministers brushed off questions about their own government’s role in stalling the legislation by proroguing Parliament.