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Canada: Ontario convinces federal government to take serious action on justice issues.

November 8, 2002

Press Release

TORONTO, Nov. 8 /CNW/ - The Ontario government is pleased with the significant progress made this week towards a stronger national DNA databank, tougher penalties for corporate crime and plans to introduce a national sex offender registry, Attorney General David Young and Minister of Public Safety and Security Bob Runciman said today.

The two ministers met their federal and provincial counterparts at a federal/provincial/territorial meeting of justice ministers in Calgary on November 4-6, 2002.

Ontario had called for a dramatic expansion of the national DNA databank because the range of criminals currently included in the samples is too narrow. For example, many violent offenders who were convicted before the databank was established are not included.

"The federal justice minister, at the urging of Ontario, has expressed his personal commitment to closing loopholes in the DNA databank," said Young. "It is crucial to expand and strengthen this powerful crime-fighting tool. The DNA databank in the United Kingdom, for example, has led to the arrest of tens of thousands of offenders, but Canada's version has led to the arrest of only a few hundred. More can be done."

The federal government also made a commitment to introduce legislation for a national sex offender registry next month and agreed to improve co- operation with the provinces.

"We wanted to make sure offenders on our system were captured by the national registry and there was progress on that front," Runciman said. "We also agreed to look at ways to expand the number of offenders listed on the federal registry, and we will work to make that happen."

The federal government also promised to report back to the provinces soon with preliminary proposals to toughen the criminal penalties for corporate crime and establish new rules of evidence to simplify the prosecution of these cases.

"Corporate crime involves a serious breach of trust and puts everyone's savings and economic security at risk," said Young. "Ottawa must give Ontario and the other provinces more tools for police and prosecutors to make sure corporate crime doesn't pay."

"The federal government listened to the provinces this week and committed itself to serious action," Young added. "Ontario will continue to work hard to ensure Ottawa follows through on its promises."

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Source: 2002 Canada Newswire