Ottawa unveils tough crime bill, warns opposition

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OTTAWA, Oct 18 (Reuters) Canada's minority Conservative government unveiled a tough anti-crime bill today and warned opposition parties that if they tried to change it, the result would be an election.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is unhappy that several elements of previous crime bills were held up in the Senate, Parliament's upper chamber, which is dominated by the opposition Liberals.

Harper won power in January 2006 on a platform that promised to crack down on crime.

He has now combined the bills into one giant piece of draft legislation and made it clear to Parliament he is treating it as a matter of confidence and expects quick approval without changes.

''We will be holding particularly the Liberals to account on this,'' Justice Minister Rob Nicholson told a news conference.

''(This) is a confidence bill. For any government there is no greater duty than the protection of its citizens.'' The omnibus bill would: * oblige those convicted of three or more serious violent or sexual crimes to show the courts why they should not be deemed dangerous offenders who could be locked up indefinitely * increase mandatory minimum jail sentences for people who commit serious or repeat firearms offenses * raise the age of sexual consent to 16 from 14, with a few exceptions * strengthen penalties for those caught driving under the influence of drink or drugs * restrict the release on bail of people charged with offenses involving firearms Opposition parties made clear yesterday that they would not bring down the government over a policy platform it unveiled earlier in the week.

There will be three confidence votes on the platform, the first at 0300 IST tomorrow. The others will be held next Monday and Wednesday.


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