Thursday, November 23, 2006

Harper, McGuinty, Miller united on gun-crime issue

Use a gun, lose your freedom. That was the strong message shooting out of a gathering at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto Thursday, as all three levels of government came to town to emphasize the fight against crime is heading towards the next level. The rare sight of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Dalton McGuinty and Mayor David Miller gathered together was made even more unusual by the fact all three men were in agreement on the same subject.
Those who use weapons in the commission of a crime won't be allowed to get off so easily any more.
Under the Tory Crime Bill officially being introduced on Thursday, gun toting criminals will now face a 'reverse onus' - they'll have to prove they deserve to get bail or they'll remain behind bars until their trial. "Canadians had made it very clear to us that they wanted the scales of justice rebalanced," Harper affirms. "Gun crime is a menace to public safety, and protecting Canadians must be the first priority of the bail system." The Premier has little sympathy for cons who get caught in this new net.
"If someone chooses to use a gun to commit a crime, then they've made a cold and callous choice to endanger our families, and that we will not tolerate," he exclaims. "Together we've made the tough and responsible choice to keep gun toting criminals off our streets." Even Miller, whose politics couldn't be much different from Harper's, issued a thank you to the P.M. for his tough stance. He still remembers the summer of the gun in this city and knows there have been three shootings here in the past three days alone. "For those who break the law using a gun, there must be real consequences," he vows. "And what better place to start than by forcing them to justify why they should be allowed back to our streets when their actions suggest otherwise. So thank you, Prime Minister Harper, for listening to the people of Toronto." Of the approximately 1,000 gun crimes committed in T.O. this year, 40 percent were found to be at the hands of someone already out on bail.
Under the current system, prosecutors have to prove that the accused should not be granted bail. But using Harper's plan, the onus will be on the criminal. And depending on the nature of the offence and the evidence, it's a lot less likely judges will be sympathetic to their pleas.


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