Minister Raises Nova Scotia Concerns at National Meeting

first_imgNova Scotians’ concerns about crime and public safety were front and centre during meetings this week of federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers. Nova Scotia Minister Cecil Clarke spoke on a variety of key issues, including strengthening the Youth Criminal Justice Act, introducing serious penalties for auto theft, and the need for stronger federal legislation to address organized crime. “While there are many ways we are fighting crime provincially, there are some issues that can only be addressed at the federal level,” said Mr. Clarke. “I am pleased with the support and co-operation we are seeing from the federal government, including upcoming amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act and their comprehensive crime bill C-2, currently before the House of Commons.” Earlier this fall federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson came to Nova Scotia to announce proposed changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that will give the courts more flexibility to hold a young person before trial when they are a danger to themselves or others. Mr. Clarke said he has re-affirmed support for the amendments to federal legislators. “Introducing the bill is only the first step,” said Mr. Clarke. “I want to make sure all members of Parliament are aware that Nova Scotians expect these amendments to pass into law.” Mr. Clarke also proposed that the federal government make auto theft a stand-alone offence under the Criminal Code. “We know from the Nunn Commission and regular reports that auto theft is a serious, and potentially life-threatening crime,” said Mr. Clarke. “Designating auto theft as a stand-alone offence, with enhanced penalties for serious repeat offenders and those who make their living stealing cars, will create a much stronger response to this crime.” Mr. Clarke joined his counterparts in calling on the federal government to strengthen how the criminal code fights organized crime. This includes creating a new offence, with penalties for drive-by shootings, specifying that gang murders will be treated as first-degree murders, and stronger penalties for assaults against peace officers, an issue previously raised by Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia will soon introduce a comprehensive crime-prevention strategy to support public safety and security. The strategy will build on current initiatives and tools to fight crime, including adding 250 provincially funded police officers across the province, new supervision and programs for young offenders, and a new civil tool to shut down drug houses and sites of other illegal activities. Other issues discussed were the on-going need for increased federal legal aid funding and the need for the federal government to move quickly on their commitment to provide 2,500 new police officers. Mr. Clarke said it is important that all levels of government work together to support communities and make them safer. “These talks are critical to ensuring our work is co-ordinated and reflects the unique needs of individual provinces and communities,” said Mr. Clarke. “We want to ensure that our Nova Scotian communities receive the full benefit of available programs and funding at the federal, provincial and municipal level.”last_img read more