The federal Conservative party was left disappointed when a proposed private member’s bill aimed at changing the way criminals with addictions are treated did not make it past the second reading.
“Conservatives are focused on presenting common-sense solutions to address the addictions crisis facing our communities and the revolving door in our justice system,” said a written statement from Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison.
“Sadly, the Liberals and their NDP coalition partners would rather continue down the failed path of hurt they have created instead of working with Conservatives to solve it.”
Bill C-283, the so-called “end the revolving door” act, was put forward by Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray. Morrison had a hand in creating the bill, but gave it over to Gray, as she was able to put it forward first.
The bill proposed a number of changes to Canada’s criminal code, including the creation of prison treatment facilities that would be part of existing prisons or new buildings altogether.
Convicted people with addictions would be able to serve part or all of their sentence at one of these facilities, with the intent of ridding themselves of their substance use disorder.
“What we’ve been doing isn’t working. We know it by living in Cranbrook,” said Morrison. “They need help, and unfortunately we lost that vote.”
That said, a prisoner would have to meet a number of criteria and provide consent.
Additionally, someone would be excluded if their charge resulted in bodily harm, the use of a weapon or “involved the import, export, trafficking or production of drugs.”
In the parliamentary debate, Liberal members felt the proposed bill would isolate treatment options, and possibly lead to negative outcomes for offenders.
“People living with substance use disorders are not necessarily ready for active treatment,” said Pam Damoff, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Safety.
“A spectrum of supports, which is not limited to active addiction treatment, must be explored and available to offenders living with substance use disorders.”
The entirety of the Liberal and NDP caucus voted against the bill, while all Conservative and Bloc Quebecois members voted in favour, resulting in 177 nay and 146 yea votes.
Morrison said he was displeased with the results.
“You see some of the issues with a small minority of the opioid addicts are committing a lot of the crime – in fact, most of them,” said Morrison.
“I firmly believe that we need to help them with their addictions. If we don’t and we just use the revolving door scenario, which we are today, I don’t see us helping anything.”
You can read Bill C-283 in its entirety below.
More: Bill C-238