Silver - Power

One Liberal, one Tory, two perspectives on the latest in Canadian politics

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 12:44 PM EDT

The perils of being soft on crime

Robert Silver

Make them pay! Lock them in jail and throw away the key! Punish the criminals!

Getting tough on crime has become a Canadian obsession. The Conservative government has made introducing ever harsher crime legislation core to its brand. The opposition NDP and Liberals, trying to side-step a wedge issue and not wanting to be branded as being "soft on crime," have (with a couple of notable exceptions) supported the Conservative crime legislation every step of the way (Conservative rhetoric about Liberal senators aside).

And it's hard to blame our three national political parties for chasing the elusive tough-on-crime rabbit down the hole. As pollster Frank Graves told this site yesterday: "It is increasingly perilous for a politician to be caught on the wrong side of the 'tough on crime' debate, even if their policy position is more rational."

And boy, does Graves have the numbers to back this up - really overwhelming stuff. In a recent poll, he found that - wait for it - 30 per cent of Canadians agree that punishment is the "main goal of the criminal justice system." What? Thirty per cent? The narrative is falling apart because that doesn't seem very high to me. Ah - but revenge must have been another answer choice. Let me look it up....revenge, revenge, revenge....nope. Man, the methodology of this poll must be flawed.

Graves's poll found that 38 per cent of Canadians think the primary goal of the justice system is prevention (soft on crime losers!), 18 per cent rehabilitation (communists, all of them!) and 16 per cent deterrence (the only real deterrence is to lock them up for life!). And yet any politician who ignores the 30 per cent "punishment" block is screwed, right?

This isn't about the entire electorate though, this is a base issue for the Conservatives - I would assume? Meat and potatoes for their core voters? Maybe - but only 42 per cent of Conservative voters agree that "punishment" is the main goal of the justice system - hardly an overwhelming number. A majority of Conservative voters disagree, in other words, that "punishment" is the main objective of our justice system.

And yet for some reason, our politicians robotically agree with Graves and more importantly, the Conservative approach to crime

To be fair to Graves, part of his argument is predicated on trends; a decade ago 22 per cent of Canadians were on the punishment bandwagon, ten years later, that number is eight per cent higher. If these trends continue, by 2035 a majority of Canadians will be there - all part of the long-term chess game Stephen Harper is playing.

Let me posit a hypothesis about the trend: given that every politician in this country has been talking about nothing but "punishment" for the last five years, it is remarkable that seven out of ten Canadians haven't been whipped into a frenzy and still think our justice system is about ANYTHING other than punishment.

Let me throw another crazy idea out there; might there be an opportunity for a political party to differentiate itself just a tiny bit from the "punishment" hysteria by adopting, oh, I don't know, some "rational" crime policies. Ones that speak to 70 per cent of Canadians?






commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre



Absolute Power corrupts. Every politician knows or ought to know that increased jail sentencing only promotes crime and just increases the percentage of the population that are incarcerated. This is steadily increasing the jail population, the crime universities of the future instead of addressing real social issues.

Our politicians show their true colours, they are cowards who would rather increase jail populations while funding that cost by simultaneously systematically cutting the legal aid budget.

Its the old Mike Harris, Republican religious agenda of criminalizing the poor.

Increasingly our jails are filled with innocent men whose only crime is to ask a judge for the court to respect a child's right to equal parenting with both parents.

It's the Right Wing introduction of draconian legislation that removes all legal rights, that indefinitely incarcerates men without ever having a trial.

The worst offenders are actually liberal appointed judges.

Take Chucky Hackland in Ottawa, a liberal appointee who ignored the fact that Peter Roscoe had all his funds frozen by the government and then ordered his indefinite incarceration because he failed to pay, with funds, FROZEN by the same court to prevent payments ordered by the court.

Then there is Justice Denis Power who struck his pleadings and the various judges in Ottawa who made sure he was NOT permitted to file documents and if he did, they refused to read them.

Its that kind of sick, criminalization of the politically incorrect that makes you want to vomit.

We live in an era that is akin to a witch hunt. It's hunting down those who are poor, those who have no legal rights and applying a Gender Apartheid to indefinitely incarcerate men till they drop dead.

Canada is a country that denies one gender all their legal rights simply because of GENDER and the worst offenders, are politically appointed JUDGES who flagrantly abuse their power to appear to be politically correct.