QUEBEC - Shortly before meeting with alleged fraud victims, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised Thursday to table legislation that would toughen sentences for white-collar crime.
"We're determined, both in the elected house and in the unelected house - the Senate - to make sure strong, anti-crime legislation proceeds in this country," Harper told a news conference.
He blamed the opposition for blocking similar anti-crime measures in the past. The opposition, however, counters that his government has never shown much interest in white-collar crime.
Harper later met with alleged victims including Joey Davis, whose elderly mother was among some 200 people swindled out of their life savings, police say, by an unaccredited financial adviser. Earl Jones is now facing fraud charges.
"His words were very encouraging, very sympathetic, very understanding of what's happening," Davis said after his meeting with Harper.
"He's very concerned that a lot of these crimes are occurring in Quebec, specifically white-collar crimes, and he's promised to work very closely with us in terms of bringing changes in the Criminal Code across Canada."
Davis said he met with NDP Leader Jack Layton earlier this week and will be meeting with the Liberal party in Montreal on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Harper used the issue to attack a favourite opponent: Liberal senators.
He blamed them for blocking many of his crime bills.
While it's true that some of his legislation has faced resistance in the upper chamber, Harper began levelling that charge since before Parliament even began sitting when he was first elected in 2006.
He said the appointment of nine new Tory senators Thursday would help get his crime agenda passed.