Throne speech tackles cable bundles, cyber bullying

Also more tools for police to fight cyberbullying as new session starts

Last year

Canada’s Conservative government continued its get-tough-on-crime theme with more tactics to tackle the bad guys announced in Wednesday’s throne speech.

“We think the sentences should match the severity of the crimes committed,” said Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge Randy Kamp.

During the new session of Parliament, the dangerous offender law will be changed, “ending the discounts [automatic early releases] for child sexual offenders,” Kamp said.

“To be frank, we don’t have much tolerance for crimes committed against children and the laws are going to be tough in that regard.”

Another change will ensure that at “a life sentence will be a life sentence,” for the most dangerous, repeat offenders.

“I think you’re going to see some significant changes in the next couple of years in the justice area, as well.”

The suicide last year of former Maple Ridge student Amanda Todd has also the prompted the government to give police more tools to combat cyberbullying.

Todd took her own life last year after enduring months of such bullying. Todd was mentioned in the Throne Speech along with an assurance that a new law would criminalize the “non-consensual distribution of intimate images.”

The announcements were part of a hour-long speech by Gov. Gen. David Johnston, divided into jobs, balancing the budget and legislation requiring the government to balance its books every year.

“The Reform party used be talking about that [a balanced budget law] years ago,” Kamp said.

Senate reform is also on the agenda, with the speech saying the status quo is “unacceptable.”

The government is waiting to hear from the Supreme Court on its plans for reforming the upper house, Kamp added.

But if that doesn’t work, the Conservatives could simply abolish it.

“It has to change in some way.”

Public opinion supports reforming the Senate rather than simply abolishing it, as favoured by the New Democratic Party, he pointed out.

“Our preference is reform it, which is not the NDP position.”

Consumers weren’t forgotten either, as the speech confirmed reports that legislation would force cable TV companies to unbundle their channel packages.

The government has also said it will reduce roaming charges charged by cellphone companies, enhance broadband networks in rural areas and ensure greater clarity in debit and credit card charges.

But the government is taking no action on credit card rates, gas prices or protecting airline passengers, Coquitlam NDP MP Fin Donnelly said in a release.

“I’ve met with many small business owners who want the astronomically high credit card processing fees reduced, which are contributing to higher prices for Canadians and smaller profit margins for small businesses.

“The NDP has long called for action to better protect consumers and we will continue to hold the government to account.”

According to the throne speech, those resisting the computer age no longer will have to pay for the privilege of getting their bills mailed to them, while there will be a “crack down” on pay day loan companies that charge high interest on loans.

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