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Bezan's bill to extend jail time gets justice minister's support

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OTTAWA -- A Manitoba backbencher's bill to keep some of the worst criminals behind bars longer is getting the support of the federal government.

Conservative James Bezan introduced Bill C-478 in March, and today, as he is set to debate it for the first time, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is throwing the weight of the federal government behind it.

The bill would increase the time in jail before eligibility of parole from 25 years to 40 years for someone convicted of murder and either kidnapping or sexual assault.

Bezan said it is wrong that the "most vile and deranged murderers" get a chance to have a parole hearing every two years after they've served 25 years, forcing victim's families to relive the pain so often.

Nicholson said the bill works with the government's plan to keep streets and communities safe and keep the most dangerous criminals behind bars.

The government's support all but assures the passage of the legislation, although it still has to wind its way through the slow private members' system, so it's not clear exactly when it might get through all stages of debate.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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