The cycle - Macleans.ca

The cycle

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The Liberal side was, if memory serves, not terribly impressed when Conservative backbenchers were sent up, in the midst of Ruby Dhalla’s nanny problems, to ask terribly serious questions about the matter’s implications.

And so the Conservative side was terribly outraged—John Baird was particularly and audibly appalled—when, a short while ago, the Liberals sent up Anita Neville to ask if the government had any comment on the sentencing of those who are charged with driving while intoxicated and drug possession.

Here now, the transcript of today’s exchange.

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, members of the government are always quick to comment on any court judgment that does not align with their “get tough on crime” rhetoric. They always say, “You do the crime, you do the time”. What then is the government’s comment on a dangerous driver, in possession of illicit drugs who gets off with no record and a $500 slap on the wrist?

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Justice. Order, please. Order, please.

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I–

The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. Minister of Justice has the floor. Order, please.

Hon. Rob Nicholson: I almost do not know where to begin to comment on such an irresponsible question, Mr. Speaker. The government initiated the Director of Public Prosecutions for the very reason to make sure there would never be any political interference of any prosecution in this country. That should have the support of the hon. member, and she should get up, withdraw and apologize for that comment.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: The hon member for Winnipeg South Centre. Order, please.

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker–

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

The Speaker: Order, please. Order, please. The hon. member Winnipeg South Centre has the floor.

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, what a hypocritical answer this minister gives. The government tries to pass the buck and the Conservatives are conspicuously silent, only when the law is being flouted by one of their own. Even the judge thought this was a “break” Why the double standard? Nothing stopped them from commenting before. Does the government really believe that the punishment fits the crime?

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, CPC): Mr. Speaker, that is about as low as one can go, in my opinion. This hon. member is talking about a provincial prosecution in front of a provincial judge within the appeal period, and she is asking us to comment. That is completely irresponsible and she should apologize to this House.