BTC: ‘It has become clear’

The full sentence is as follows: “It has become clear that Canadians wish to see more serious consequences for those who attack a woman while she is pregnant.” That’s Justice Minister Rob Nicholson explaining today’s announcement of an intention to table legislation on the matter, assuming the Prime Minister doesn’t dissolve Parliament in the next two weeks.

Various questions followed on the politics of this, but at least a couple reporters apparently wanted to know what had become clear and how clarity had been achieved. Their questions and the corresponding responses, copy-and-pasted from the transcript.

Moderator: Ben O’Hara, CanWest.

O’Hara: Mr. Nicholson, just on a more concrete (inaudible) for this bill.  How big a problem is violence against pregnant women? What was, concretely, what was the problem with the sentencing out there? Was there, did you go back and do some real look into, to figure out whether or not this was an actual problem out there, that people who are hurting pregnant women were getting soft sentences compared to what you think they should be getting?

Nicholson: I think what we are doing, and we’re doing on all of this, I mean, it’s, it’s against the law to sell drugs in this country but we are bringing forward a bill that makes a very clear statement as to where this government stands, whether it be on drugs, guns, violence against women.  We are making a very clear statement and we’re indicating to the courts that this will be a consideration anytime violence is directed towards a pregnant woman.  So I think consistent with what we have been doing and that is to make it very clear as to where we stand on all these issues.  And so it’s certainly consistent with what we’ve been doing at the, up to this point. 

O’Hara: But the way you’re discussing it, one would assume that this is an urgent matter for the government to deal with. You seem to, coming here to announce it. This is something that needs to be done urgently.  Is this an urgent problem?

Nicholson: I have a sense of urgency, believe me, with everything in our criminal law agenda. And I’ve indicated we’re moving forward with changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. We’ve moved forward on tougher sentences for people who commit crimes with guns. We have a bill before Parliament right now with respect to drugs that I think sends out the very correct message as to this government’s attitude towards people who sell drugs in this country. And so it hasn’t been easy to get our agenda. As I’ve indicated to people, I’m part of a political party that’s alone on this.  We are the ones who are consistently prepared to stand up and fight against crime across this country and it’s been a lonely pursuit in the House of Commons looking for support on that. But this is certainly consistent with everything that we have done for the last couple of years.

Moderator: Allan Woods.

Woods: Minister, you come here with this announcement. There’s no draft legislation, there’s no background. (Inaudible) of, what it seems is no impact estimate. How long have you been working on this?

Nicholson: We’re working on all issues within the criminal justice issue. I can tell you that I haven’t introduced other than the changes that were made in C-25 under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, but I can tell you we’ll be moving forward on that.  So I’m giving you a preview of what we will be introducing in the fall and the changes that I have talked about today and changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act will be a part of that. 

Woods: (inaudible – off microphone) determine how well it’s been thought through.  So it’s a couple of days or, or…?

Nicholson: We, we think through, everything gets well thought through in this government and I’ve been very pleased to be a part of a portfolio that has moved forward with those items that we promised Canadians in the 2006 election  And as I always indicate to my colleagues when it comes to fighting crime in this country, we’re just getting started.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.