Local MP responds to his critics

Ron Cannan defends Conservative government's omnibus crime bill and says he's free to speak his mind.

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan is making no apologies for supporting the federal government’s bid to get tough on crime with its sweeping omnibus crime bill.

Responding to criticism for his decision not to attend a public meeting in Kelowna on the crime bill earlier this week, and to charges he is simply saying what he is told to say by the Prime Minister’s office, Cannan said he has heard from many constituents who agree with what the government is doing.

“I’ve heard loud and clear from constituents that our judicial reforms are needed,” he said.

“I don’t apologize for getting tough on individuals who sexually abuse children,” he added referring to one of the tough-on-crime provisions of the proposed new law.

He said he also does not apologize for the Tory government, now that it has a majority in the House of Commons, delivering on an election promise to push through the omnibus crime bill in the first 100 days of its mandate.

The bill, however, is not yet law 225 days after the Conservatives won the May 2 election. While it has has been passed by the House of Commons, it is currently before the Senate, in which the Conservatives also hold a majority.

The bill, which brings together nine separate crime-related bills that the Tories were unable to pass in earlier parliamentary sessions because they did not have a majority, was blasted during the Kelowna meeting as being ideologically driven and having no support from any academic research.

A panel of speakers, including representatives of the federal Liberals, Greens and NDP, as well as a representative of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the John Howard Society and an academic all pointed to areas where the proposed new laws will cost more money, fail in their goal of reducing crime and address some areas with harsh penalties where such measures are not needed.

But Cannan, who was invited to the meeting but declined saying now that it was out of the Commons and before the Senate his work was done, accused opponents of  the bill of not reading it.

And he pointed to his re-election as a vindication for his support of the bill.

“At the end of the day, there is no greater consultation than running for election,” he said.

The meeting on the crime bill was organized by local substitute teacher Gilbert Hobart, after he phoned Cannan to discuss concerns he had about the crime bill as they would relate to penalties for marijuana possession. Hobart recorded the conversations and posted them on the Internet.

The meeting drew about 100 people, with all who spoke slamming the bill.

A proposal to protest outside Cannan’s office was rejected by one speaker, Islam Mohammed, the president of the federal Liberal riding association in Kelowna-Lake Country, who called it a “wasted effort” because Cannan was just saying what he was told to say by the Prime Minister’s office.

Cannan rejected that, saying he is free to speak his mind.


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