Former NHLer backs crime bill

KRISTY KIRKUP, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 2:23 PM ET

OTTAWA - Former NHL player and sex abuse victim Sheldon Kennedy supports Canada cracking down on child sex offenders.

Kennedy spoke at a parliamentary justice committee Thursday to support government¹s omnibus crime bill, which has received a landslide of criticism from opposition parties.

"Pardons should be eliminated for all child sex offenders. Period," Kennedy said.

The former professional hockey player, who was sexually abused by his coach during his teens, said convicted sex offenders don't spend enough time in jail.

Kennedy's abuser, Graham James, was sentenced to three years behind bars but he only spent 18 months in jail. James later received a pardon from the National Parole Board.

The Tories are set to pass a massive bill that rolls together nine pieces of legislation which died when the election was called.

Some of the measures in the bill include eliminating conditional sentences for specific offences and increasing the mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes.

The New Democrats had hoped the Tories would agree to divide up the bill because it supports some of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, including measures to protect children and toughen parole eligibility requirements.

But the NDP wanted more controversial components debated further, including refusing pardons for people who have committed three crimes.

The government has promised to pass the bill within 100 sitting days of Parliament.

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