The Conservatives’ crime
obsession is not magnificent
Globe and Mail
The Prison is the Answer to Everything omnibus crime bill introduced by the
Conservative government this week has some worthwhile measures – sometimes
prison is the answer – but it also tends to go too far. It gets onto a good
thing, such as ending the overuse of house arrest in violent crime, and then
can't restrain itself from including non-violent offences such as car theft. Or
it decides tougher sentences are in order for drug traffickers and organized
crime, and then slaps a six-month jail term on anyone who grows six marijuana
plants. (The bill is formally known as the Safe Streets and Communities Act, and
includes nine bills introduced by the Conservatives during minority rule and
The bill's subtitle might be “Taking the Country Back.” From whom? The
judges and the Liberals. There is a shower of new mandatory minimum
sentences – judges can't be trusted to get it right, in the government's
view. The Liberal attempts to bring down Canada's fairly high incarceration
rate are off the table; more adults and youths will wind up behind bars.
There are bills to deny pardons for sexual predators – a reasonable move, in
the wake of the pardon-on-a-platter given to Graham James, a convicted
abuser of young hockey players. There is a bill to make it more difficult to
transfer Canadian citizens convicted of crimes in other countries back to
this country to serve their time. (Won't they be deported here afterward,
anyway?) While each of these should be assessed by the public, and
parliamentarians, on its merits, it is necessary also to ask: Is this what
fighting crime and protecting communities are really all about? Jail cells?
There are the good, the bad and the base. The Penalties for Organized Drug
Crime Act is for the party's conservative political base. It provides
“mandatory jail time for serious drug offences.” But why should growing six
marijuana plants in one's basement bring six months in jail? If judges can't
be trusted to give the appropriate sentence for a 19-year-old with a few pot
plants in his closet, maybe that's because Canadians generally don't see it
as a serious crime. And should selling marijuana to someone under 18 bring a
minimum of two years? This is a page from the discredited war-on-drugs
Sébastien's Law, on the other hand, is tough-sounding but not draconian.
Jean Chrétien's Liberal government had inserted a “presumption” into the
youth-crime law that the most serious offences (such as murder), if
committed from 14 to 17, deserved an adult sentence. The Supreme Court threw
out that presumption. This new law requires the Crown to “consider” asking
for an adult sentence for the most serious offences. Judges will also be
able to hold, until trial, young people deemed out of control and dangerous.
A liberal, retired judge in Nova Scotia proposed this measure after a
16-year-old out on bail killed a woman while driving a stolen car at 180
kilometres an hour. Society in general – and young people, too – will be
better off as a result.
Finally, consider the new law that limits the use of house arrest brought
in by the Liberals. For more than a decade, there had been a legal fiction
that house arrest was a punitive sentence. But few people believed it. No
wonder, when some of those on house arrest could go out to work, study or
pray. And people who committed violent offences, including stabbings, child
rapes and sexual mutilations, were given these sentences. But the
Conservatives won't allow house arrest even for some non-violent crimes such
as car theft or break-and-enter, committed largely by young people who may
benefit from a second chance.
“This is just the beginning,” says Justice Minister Robert Nicholson.
That is worrying. The government is obsessed with the
tough-on-crime-and-drugs approach of the United States, even as U.S.
conservatives move in the other direction – the Canadian one – because jail
costs are outstripping investments in higher education. (California, step
forward.) Even where a tougher approach is called for, it is not enough. The
government should also be spending some of its political capital, energy and
money to address the causes of crime, including poor mental health,
addictions and child poverty.
Compare the worst criminals on earth, they get their kicks thrills and spoils
from committing not just crimes but in general, a horrendous breach of trust.
It's not just the present conservative government, politicians of all colours
will prostitute the country by making politically popular decisions that are
terrible, breaches of trust, to the Canadian public.
Mr. Harper admits that this sort of behaviour is "good politics and bad policy"
but he does it anyway. His example was the GST but that's just the tip of the
Anyone and everyone who has professional advice or opinions that deserve
listening to is shut down or shot down by Mr. Harper.
No, he does not listen to judges, in his view, they threaten to reveal
conservative heresy so he just flagrantly ignores any judicial advice, or
decision he does not like.
What we have is a prime minister who is jerking off in front of the public with
a fill more jails tough on crime policy without any consideration that jail,
imprisonment does not reduce crime except, EXCEPT for the worst dangers to
society who must be locked up temporarily or forever.
We have a massive number of debtor jails, increasingly its innocent non violent
men who are incarcerated for nothing other than being fathers thanks the
feminist Sharia Law that makes males criminals from birth.
Mr. Harper is in effect, breaching his fiduciary duty to Canada, to the long
term best interests of Canada to engage in Money Laundering, his favours to the
Private Jail corporations flow back to the Canadian Republican's via political
All of which is a very good reason why we need to expose, the horrendous long
term harm that "bad policy but good politics" justifies his ongoing destruction
of Canadian society.