Does Canada need tougher crime laws?

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On Cross Country Checkup: fighting crime

The Conservative government says it's taking aim at crime with a sweeping new law-and-order bill.  But critics say it misses the mark. 

What do you think? Is the tougher legislation what Canadians need?

Join host Rex Murphy.


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Introduction

The government's new comprehensive crime bill is working its way through Parliament ...and it has set off a vigorous debate. Critics say it is too much ...and at the wrong time.

The Conservatives campaigned in the last election promising such legislation ...and much of it had been introduced previously in Parliament in nine separate bills, but they failed to make progress under a minority government. With the present Conservative majority, passage of the omnibus bill is assured.

The bill aims at tightening up the law in a number of areas including protecting children from sexual predators, tougher penalties for organized drug crimes, and measures to keep violent offenders, both young and adult, off the streets.

The opposition says it will result in many more people being imprisoned which will be too expensive and not make us any safer. They say more mandatory sentences and more people in prisons represents an American-style of justice with that has not worked south of the border. And they say the crime rate is dropping so why waste more time and resources to step up the battle.

The Conservatives respond that not all crime is dropping and some of their measures are quite specific and long overdue. They also point out that Canada's rate of incarceration is far below that of the US and even below the majority of developed countries in the world ...so, there is lots of room for adjustment.

The debate over the crime bill has been bitter ...and to some extent partisan. Even some provinces ...Quebec and Ontario for example, have jumped into the fray suggesting they will refuse to pay for the extra costs associated with the bill.

This topic is also controversial because crime issues, or "Where politicians stand on crime" is oftern a stand-in for partisan politics, or a proxy for the ever present struggle between political parties. So "giving in" to the other side, say by acknowledging a criticism as correct - or that while one part of a bill may be bad there is good material there -- is not likely.

But reading the various reports, and the columns that have been written on them suggests there is more room for at least part agreement on some of these topics/issues than the official debate would lead you to believe. Is there some room here for agreement on some points ...or is the crime omnibus bill - as its name suggests - an all or nothing deal?

We want to hear from you. What do you think? Have you read the bill? Are there good and bad aspects? What do you think of the way in which this legislation is being discussed? Our system of justice is something that affects us all in various ways ...how do you think some of the proposed changes will affect you? Perhaps you have already been affected by way the present system operates ...tell us your story. How safe do you feel in your community? Do you think Canada needs to tighten up ...or loosen up?

Our question today just to start the discussion: "Does Canada need tougher crime laws?"

I'm Rex Murphy, on CBC Radio One, and on Sirius satellite radio channel 159, this is Cross Country Checkup.


Guests

  • Kerry-Lynne Findlay
    Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and MP for Delta-Richmond East, British Columbia.

  • Jack Harris
    NDP justice critic and MP for St. John's East, Newfoundland.

  • Catherine Latimer
    Executive Director of the John Howard Society

  • Brian Lee Crowley
    Managing Director Macdonald-Laurier Institute a Ottawa based public policy think-tank and author of the book Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada's Founding Values.




Links

CBC.ca

National Post

Globe and Mail

iPolitics.ca

Sun

Troy media

Montreal Gazette

Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Victoria Times Colonist

E-mail

A new provision is to increase the application cost of a pardon to more than $600.00. The current fee is $150.00. Additional fees will levied at every step of the application process. These include fees for court records, RCMP criminal checks, a local police report, all of which will raise the cost of a pardon application to close to a thousand dollars. If a person was convicted 20 years ago of shoplifting a $3.00 item, they will now be forced to go through a punitive and cost-prohibitive process to obtain a pardon. For many people trying to turn their life around, a pardon is a necessity before they can obtain employment. This new fee is a punitive measure that in many cases represents a second sentencing. This new measure by the Harper government will prevent many poor people from obtaining a pardon because they simply can't afford it. Canada is becoming a country that won't give anyone a second chance.

M Shaw
Halifax, Nova Scotia

 

Canada has horribly out-of-date laws in the area of animal cruelty.  The last time a bill to update these laws was debated in the House, the proposed bill was woefully inadequate, and only 15 MPs - out of 308! - showed up to debate it.  We have been waiting YEARS for effective change.  Every time it gets close, it dies on the order paper as a result of prorogation or an election call.

I don't know if anti-animal-cruelty provisions are in this new omnibus bill, but I'd bet not.  I find it ironic that we are still waiting for effective laws in this area, considering how gung-ho this government proclaims itself in other areas of crime.

Sincerely,
Shannon Klatt
Winchester, Ontario

 

I have read bill C10, and find nothing that makes life any safer. Nothing, for instance, to deter petty criminals who bring down the 911 service to thousands of people to get a few dollars worth of copper wire, and nothing to deter firearm use compared to less life-threatening violence.

On the other hand, the minimum sentencing provisions are expensive and set a dangerous precedent. I see them as undermining the independence of the judiciary, and when applied to actions such as growing marijuana that many Canadians don't even think are wrong, could influence juries who might believe an accused is guilty but cannot condone the sentence.

Andrew Daviel
Vancouver, British Columbia

 

Do I support the bill? no. Do I support parts of the bill - yes, but that's irrelevant because they brought it forward as a single omnibus bill - all or nothing, and it is mostly bad. Even conservatives in Texas, the most pro "tough on crime" state in the US, they have admitted that this sort of get tough, lock 'em up approach just doesn't work.

Rick Borchert
Winnipeg, Manitoba

 

I wanted to respond to something that Ms. Finlay said towards the end of her interview.  To paraphrase, she said that she doesn't understand why this issue is so divisive because the parties tend to agree on the desired end result (a reduction in crime) buy maybe not the method.  Well, Ms. Finlay, that's exactly why the issue is so divisive: you have chosen the wrong method.  In general, research had shown that tougher penalties for crimes don't actually prevent crimes.  Increased funding for education and social program does.  This issue is so divisive because the Conservative government refuses to remove its head from the sand and smell the research.  People are irate because you and your party insist on dumping money into legislation which won't make a difference.  I like the idea of tough penalties for sexual crimes against children and other particularly heinous offenses, but I think we need to look to nations who are actually doing a good job of preventing those offenses. 

Sincerely,

Kelly Webster
Windsor, Ontario

 

This bill, like so many other actions of this government, seems predicated on impressions rather evidence.  The measures being introduced seem not to be about 'law and order', but rather about this government's focus on 'crime and punishment'.  The Parliamentary Secretary indicated it was about victims' rights.  By that, does she mean a victim's right to revenge?  Will this bill make Canada a safer place?  Experiences elsewhere suggest not.  But let us wait and see - and measure the results against the government's stated objectives.

Don Masters
Ottawa, Ontario

 

I am against the Omnibus Bill because it does not address the fundamental causes of crime in our communities. Every Saturday I help to coordinate a lunch program in my home parish church for many folks who are dealing with poverty and homelessness, addictions and mental illness and many of these friends have been involved with the criminal justice system and have served time in jail. The problem is that we do not have the social supports to help people who are on the margins and whose desperate lives sometimes lead them to criminal acts. Supportive and affordable housing, food security, good mental health care and reasonable rates for welfare and disability are the place to start. I believe if we were able to build communities with this kind of care for the most vulnerable we wouldn't need this legislation.

It seems to me we have a choice. Either we take care of those who can't, for whatever reason, take care of themselves, or we don't. Not providing good social infrastructure is a choice our governments are increasingly making -- from the federal to the municipal level. That choice has consequences. I am disheartened to see the lack of compassion for neighbours that is exhibited by the Harper Conservatives. I say scrap the omnibus bill, and come to the table to figure out how to build more compassionate communities.

Susan Spicer
Peterborough, Ontario

 

This is such a multifaceted issue - I come from a preventative philosophy. Let's begin at the beginning - every Canadian should have the greatest gift as a 'wanted child' where both parents contribute. Second, every child should not escape our educational grip without  having both knowledge and self confidence about their ability to contribute to society. Third, organized crime needs to be eliminated so that profits fund the health care system and people who prefer to use these substances get safe products.Fourth, our culture needs to espouse the "To Kill A Mockingbird" philosophy (RH Thomson currently playing in Calgary) of protecting and nurturing the disadvantaged and disabled by eliminating bullying and engendering respect. Fifth, that Canada regains our reputation of seeking peace in every aspect of our lives from Foreign Affairs to community support - it is what has defined us for so many years. Sixth, we engage Canadians in a dialogue about how to achieve these goals.

Yes, there are needs for prisons that treat people humanly, teach them what they do not know - to read, to trust, to think and release them back into the community as contributing citizens

Joey Stewart
Calgary, Alberta

 

Let us reform our schools, and we shall find little reform needed in our prisons.

David McIlwraith
Toronto, Ontario

 

Harper's omnibus bill will only mean increased expense in the short term and the continued waste of money and human potential in the long term. It will also mean making more criminals of more Canadians by stiffening marijuana laws, which should have been abandoned generations ago.

Harper will beggar the provinces, filling our already overwhelmed jails with more even Canadians and building unnecessary additions to the suite of medieval warehouses we presently have. This is not a race to beat the USA as the most incarcerated population in the world.

If the plan is to permanently inter Canadians in living graves, Harper will succeed in spades. If he and his boosters expect that the average repeat offender will spontaneously cure themselves, by being steeped in an environment of gloom, disease, violence and hopelessness, then their understanding of human nature and capability is sorely lacking. For a Christian, Harper shows a despicable lack of compassion.

Unending punishment does not work. Incarceration should be for protecting the public and to assure that convicted Canadians remain under supervision until they have been given the knowledge and experience needed to live a legal and constructive life in normal society. A few will never achieve this but that does not mean that the majority should consigned to a living hell.

Phil Young
Victoria, British Columbia

 

During your conversations with some of your call-in guests you have asked if there are any parts or portions of the Bill that they like or is like....unfortunately, that is the major problem of the Bill. The Conservatives have rolled everything together. Even if there were some portions of the Bill that I agreed with, I could not support the legislation, because I totally disagree with the vast majority of the Bill. I think even if opposition parties agreed with some of the legislation they couldn't vote for it because of the fundamental differences between the right and left.

Ron Roy
Ottawa, Ontario

 

There is a lot of uncertainty in the cost of this bill.  I think it is hypocritical to shutdown the long gun registry, for its cost, but push this bill through where its costs are still uncertain.  The conservatives aren't taking into account of what the people want.  This bill has failed four other times because it doesn't reflect what Canada needs.  I think tax money would be better spent on education.  The future will be better by educating our children not scaring them.  My two  young daughters will be able to serve our country better by having access to school not going to jail.  If we teach our kids better they will make better choices in the future.

I have been involved in criminal activity and been through the justice system.  I never went to jail but I would have under this bill.  I am trying to move forward by going to university but don't think I would be doing so if I had went to jail.  I probably would have made more connections in jail and continued to be a career criminal.  More jails means educating more criminals.

Kear Porttris

 

The first thing to note is that we talk about a Crime Bill, not Crime Prevention. The root causes are not addressed in balance. A caller referred to Fields of Dreams "build and they will come". Indeed. Even Conrad Black opined on this especially for native persons who disproportionately fill the jails. If prisons are a business they need clients, namely convicted persons.  Which then includes minimum sentences abhorrent to Judges. In my book Is Everyone at the Table? 18 Life Lessons in Problem Solving, Ottawa Police Chief Vern White, who has a Masters degree in Restorative Justice (and is a purported well-qualified candidate for RCMP Commissioner) is quoted twice. Once about victim assistance which was addressed by the MP Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Justice at the beginning of your show, and on the recidivism rate, the true stats. It is well above the rate posted on Corrections Canada website which is restricted in its parameters. The true percentage of recurring and returning 'convicts' is %60 plus. For some aboriginal communities it is %80.  On Tuesday night Nov. 1st. in Ottawa seasoned criminal justice advocates launched the Smart Justice network which will be fully operational soon. In my book I ask "qui bono"- who benefits from conflict. The cost of conflict, human and economic, is needing much attention, especially in the 3C area Courts, Cops and Corrections, a multi-billion dollar social policy expenditure. The ideas of diversion programs, restorative justice between offenders and victims, conflict prevention and life skills etc. are all well-documented.  As for the marijuana laws, they should go up in smoke! As I write in my book we need to move from 'law and order' to "love and order'.

Ernie Tannis
Ottawa, Ontario

 

The right wingers are all for retribution. The left wingers are all for rehabilitation. I'd rather have restitution.  I have no time for those who wave the sexual predator flag in order to introduce legislation that will require our internet service provider to do like they do in Communist China, spy on us!

Brian Sanderson
Wolfville, Nova Scotia

 

I hope that the success that they are having in Texas of all places gets a mention tonight. There was quite a bit of press coverage here a couple of weeks ago . There appears to be a major emphasis since 2002 on treatment and rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration for crimes committed to support addiction.
 
Not having read C10 I can't comment on the whether there is anything there related to rehabilitation but the Texas model seems to represent a real sea change and they have even managed to close a prison !
 
Patsy Ploughman
St. John's, Newfoundland

 

Carrot or the stick (fabricating statistics) Bill C-10 (5) If the offender successfully completes a program under subsection (4), the court is not required to impose the minimum punishment for the offence for which the person was convicted.

This is bad science and will attribute to false addiction statistics. It is recommended that any person entering such a program be exempt from any database of statistics as there is great risk that freedom (the carrot) will promote perjury to avoid minimum sentences (the stick).

David Shea
Halifax, Nova Scotia

 

This government has demonstrated far better leadership than I expected with some files and far worse leadership in this file.  With crime, especially homicides and violent crimes on the decrease, why would we ever choose this bill on which to focus energy and resources.  The bill does not fit the circumstances (of violent crime decreasing), and it doesn't fit the fiscal circumstances of the nation.  If crime was down by 90% - a bill like this would still appeal to a specific group, get passed and waste resources.  Violent crime will always trigger an emotional response - as it should - but it should never guide policy.Policies should be based on reasoned, sober reflection on the realities of the day.  This does not.

Bill McCuaig

 

Predatory regimes, some of them in democracies, have sought scapegoats in order to frighten people into compliance.  This is a very old political  trick perpetrated by ethically challenged political players.  Given the absence of real victim protection policies, the lack of emphasis on rehabilitation and the lack of concern for the youth of our country I fail to see how the Omnibus Crime Bill would do more than make more criminals and increase recidivism rates.  I disagree with the Minister; the example of the high rate of recidivism in California is applicable.  Will we see lots of teenagers caught with a few joints in their pockets and having their lives ruined forever?  I'm afraid so.  The Omnibus Crime Bill is ideologically driven,  unnecessarily cruel, too expensive and if history is to be our guide, likely to fail in its intended goals.

Linda Leon
Whitehorse, Yukon

 

Your seeming support for your MP/lawyer's talk of victim's rights etc. makes little sense.  What do harsher sentences mainly provide to victims?  Revenge? The way some talk, it seems so.  And has not the whole point of criminal justice ever been to protect potential victims?  The Tories are talking as if this is something new.

D.W. MacDonald
Sydney,  Nova Scotia

 

How interesting that an earlier caller who supported the omnibus crime bill succeeded in pinpointing its fatal flaw.  When Rex asked him for its effects on drug users he acknowledged that a distinction should be made between a user who is trafficking and a young person using it for personal recreational purposes and sharing it with friends.  Certain provisions in the bill will not allow a judge to make that distinction, with the consequence that recreational users will find themselves sharing jail time with professionals.  Inflexible "minimum sentencing" requirements will seriously limit the freedom of judges to make judgments, and are, frankly, insulting to the judicial profession.

Donald S. Dunbar
Hillside Boularderie, Nova Scotia

 

The Harper government was elected by areas that have a high proportion of newer immigrants who have older attitudes toward punishment and crime than longer living Canadians.   So we are being ruled by out-of-date attitudes, which allow the Harper government to achieve a majority.  Those prejudices are so deep they do not listen to objective studies that demonstrate that punishment does not succeed, it simply increases the number of criminals and the cost of controlling them. This legislation is being accomplished to keep a majority going for the Conservatives, when in fact the majority of Canadians oppose it. It is regressive for Canada.

William Lawrence
Victoria, British Columbia

 

Why are people afraid of crime, especially of crime committed by young (dare I say black) men, even though the crime rate is going down?  And why do people think that the criminal justice system favours criminals over victims?  The answer is simple.  We watch too much TV. It is so frustrating that our government decides to give in to fears based on fiction we watch on mostly American television more credence than statistics and science that show that crime rates are going down and punishment doesn't work.

Judy Minden
Toronto, Ontario

 


Prison/incarceration is a growth industry.  Someone stands to make a lot of money in this expansion.  It is an insult to most Canadians to say to us and expect us to believe that this bill has anything to do with public safety or crime.  Civility is not bred or taught though a bullying threatening position.   Put the money towards the root of the problem spend it on education.  Listen to what they are saying in Quebec or even Texas.   Harper has the wrong idea. Canadians know it.

Tobias Beale
Halifax, Nova Scotia 

 

I am opposed to many aspects of this bill because I feel that the true issues are not being addressed.  Before the government builds more jails and institutes tougher laws, I feel that they should be putting in more money and resources into preventative measures.  Assistance to low income families and support for Aboriginal Justice systems would go a long way to keeping people from getting involved in crime.  With the high percentages of aboriginals in our prison system, we know that there is something wrong with how they are being treated. 

I am not against punishing people who hurt children, or are involved in internet crime, or are members of organized criminal groups but there has to be true rehabilitation systems in place to ensure that people don't become even worse criminals in jail than when they went in.

The US system doesn't work.  They are letting people out after less than half of the time served because the  jails are so over crowded.

The serious crime rate has been dropping in this country and yet people are convinced that the crime rates are severe because the news agencies keep reporting every crime and making them appear to be far worse than the crime is.

By the way, the listener who said that he was afraid that he would be attacked by the "tatooed" men on the main street of his town is obviously very prejudiced against anyone is different than himself.  Tattoos are not an indication of being involved in crime - they are body art.

Kathy McNeil
Banff, Alberta

 

I find it hard to believe that the Conservatives will have a rehabilitation programme, as suggested by Kerri-Lee Findlay, because they have shut down the prison farms.  These farms had a 97% success rate and graduates found jobs in the city as well as in rural areas because they learned business and scientific skills required on a modern farm.
 
Margaret Tyson
Ottawa , Ontario 


I live in Whitehorse, Yukon.  Recently I had my car lit on fire in the middle of the night in my driveway, my baby was asleep in a room 10 feet away.  To say the least it was quite an intense experience.   I tell you this story because I feel I caught a glimpse of some of the feelings that victims of crime go through: anger, fear, resentment, and paranoia.  And perhaps it is these types of feelings that is guiding this proposed legislation.  I don't know what is driving this legislation, and it seems few people do.  This country needs answers to a simple question: with crime rates dropping and experts all over the world pointing to hard data citing that prevention is the best policy, why are we spending billions of dollars on a bill that completely ignores facts or research?   Filling our jails is a band-aid solution, it's not addressing the issues and long term we will be creating more dangerous and career oriented criminals as they become hardened and jaded in these so called "super jails". The person that fire bombed my car doesn't need to go to jail, they need support and guidance to get their life back on track and learn to make better life decisions.  This does not happen in jail.   We cannot let this government fear monger us towards policies that have no logical framework and seem to be based solely on the whim of ideology.  

Sincerely,

Jeff Barrett
Whitehorse, Yukon

 

I say "No" to tougher crime laws. We as taxpayers are going to be "collateral damage" with more and more people being incarcerated for longer and longer with the exorbitant cost of this new legislation. The statistics show our crime rates are going down. It is criminal of the government to ignore the facts. Monies used to storehouse criminals for longer periods of time could be better spent on;  drug addiction treatment providing training and education in prisons to make prisoners employable and able to function in society upon release accommodation and treatment for our mentally ill. It is proven over and over that the threat of jail does not make people "stop and think" and therefore not commit a crime. Poverty, drugs, lack of education and inequality have been proven to be the causes of  much criminal activity and would be more humanely and economically dealt with at the causal level.  With a family member incarcerated I know firsthand that there is nothing being done within Correctional Service Canada to rehabilitate  prisoners and prepare them for release. Overcrowding and longer sentences will only inflame an already bad situation. I do know that just providing very well paid guards and the even better paid bureaucracy costs us as taxpayers astronomical amount of money now and this will be soaring with this bill. This legislation is going in the wrong direction and will not contribute positively to our society.

Joan Stauffer
Calgary, Alberta

 

There is already a group in our society who has been subject to "tough on crime" sentencing and treatment; Canada's First Nations' peoples.  If we look at their statistics as a "tough on crime" test case within our system, we see increasing numbers being incarcerated and increased likelihood to re-offend, similar to what we see in the US.

Nicolas Tjelios
Guelph, Ontario

 

I feel very strongly about today's topic.  I consider myself a 'victim of crime' and support the idea of tougher sentences.  The reason I consider myself a 'victim of crime' is because I have a known, long standing organized crime drug dealer living directly across the street from me.  Because of the activities in that house, I am kept awake at night by the traffic in and out; I worry about the safety and security of our home when we are not present, I worry about the safety of our grandchildren when they visit.  We have tried to have something done about this in the past, but the RCMP seem to turn a blind eye to what goes on here.  By the way, this has been going on now for about 9 years.   As a matter of fact, I had an RCMP officer tell me, to my face, that this problem will not be resolved until one of us moves!  To which I responded that I was not going to accommodate criminal activity by selling our home and moving.  I would like to point out the irony of today's topic after hearing on the newscast right before the program, that the young man responsible for the death of Grant Depatey, has been released on mandatory parole (for a second time) and has already breached his parole for a second time.  How do those opposing this bill justify that?!  How many chances do we give the criminals?  If people are concerned about being busted for "growing their own pot", there is a simple solution for them....don't do it if it is against the law.  Maybe they should use their resources to change that part of the law?

Anne Fransen
Duncan, British Columbia

 

The U.S. just released 33,000 offenders from their overcrowded system,. It's not working for them. If our system is so over-taxed,(58% is hugely inefficient, some would argue non-functioning) how does increasing the number of inmates make the victims feel more involved. I feel the goal is to overburden the system so that the government can justify privatizing it in the future.

Judy Close
Edmonton, Alberta

 

Remembering about 1000 primary-aged children I taught during my working life, I cannot think of a single child who would have said  they wanted to be a criminal when they grew up.  Perhaps we should be  looking at what influenced people to embark on criminal activity and address those issues at the same time that dangerous criminals now are  being isolated in prison.  For our physical health, illnesses are prevented by using vaccines and observing healthy behaviors; our social health should be treated with preventative measures, as well.

Sheila Pratt
Maple Ridge, British Columbia

 


Two aspects of this crime bill greatly concern me. First, I disagree in principle to mandatory minimum sentencing. I feel that mandatory sentencing imposes a political agenda on the courts. A judge, when sentencing, considers the particulars of the case being dealt with. The circumstances of the offense, both in regards to the person charged and to the victims of the offense must be weighed on a case by case basis. I don't want to see the considerations and rulings of our judiciary pushed and pulled by political agendas. Second. I really feel strongly that our laws regarding recreational drug use need some severe surgery. For the life of me, I don't understand why the possession of marijuana is still considered a criminal offense. Throwing more severe penalties on top of the already broken legal structure will, in my opinion, just make the whole business of dealing with this social reality even more inflated than it already is. If we really want to break the back of organized crime, we should be looking at ways to safely legalize the use of soft drugs.

Joe Lepiano
Toronto, Ontario

 

There are a few things blatantly wrong with this bill. First is the force in charge of keeping law and order: the RCMP has proven itself incapable of upholding our laws too often (witness the kid in Smithers shot in the back of the head in self-defense, the Pickton affair, etc.). Secondly, the courts are not equipped to handle the deluge of so-called criminals who will be newly identified by this bill (note how many cases are thrown out because of delays in the system ). Thirdly, how can six pot plants land you in jail for six months! That is the proverbial sledgehammer on the fly. Other points to consider: who doesn't believe in better victims' rights? But when you lump those in with all the other points, you are camouflaging the ridiculous with the sensible. Speaking of victims, have the families of Pickton's victims been assisted properly? You don't need a new law to help them, you need the brain and the heart to comfort them. Let's also remember Mr. Fantino's handling of the uprising in his realm a few years back. Does he represent law and order within the Conservative regime? I wish more Canadians were aware of that story, they would have a different view of our present government and its 'star' members. By the way, I hope not too many callers will question the quality of the omnibus bill because that will give the government another reason to silence the research and investigative work the CBC carries out so well, even when it challenges so-called authority.

Michel Gendron
Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

 

Repeatedly people have been saying on the broadcast that they like this or that but don't agree with that or this. Harper has his majority now so he can afford to break the bills down into the original components so we can study and support or oppose aspects of the bills in a manageable fashion.

Derek Madge
Waterloo, Ontario

 

Since statistics indicate that the majority of crimes addressed in the omnibus crime bill are committed by impoverished, poorly educated people and it has been demonstrated that improving education and standard of living reduces these crimes, why do we keep focusing on the symptom rather than the cause? If you really want to help victims, would not the best solution be to focus on improving education and diminishing poverty?

Jocelyn
London, Ontario

 

I have never participated in your programme before but I cannot contain myself on this one. It hits me in the pocketbook and offends my brain and idealism. I do not want my tax dollars being spent to improve the skill and determination of criminals. There is ample evidence to show that longer and tougher sentences produce better criminals. The Conservative platform holds them to pursue this legislation if they want to be re-elected, but it does not make for a safer society. People get out of prison and re-join open society. How they carry on will likely be determined by what they experienced in prison. Counseling, education, socialization and rehabilitation will pay far greater dividends to our society than longer tougher incarceration. This government stand is to me a fine example of I know what I believe. Don't confuse me with the facts. The Harper government tried to pass these measures one by one and failed when they had a minority. With a majority they have lumped the whole pack together (both good and bad) and are trying to ram it through. This is a far cry from what I was taught democracy was about. I become more and more cynical about politics in Canada. I continue to vote but I wonder why I bother. The government in power always seems to have nothing in mind but how to get elected again. God forbid that our leaders should try to encourage us to expand our ideas and grow into thoughtful citizens rather than kneejerk party voters.

Mary Frances
Ottawa, Ontario

 

I would like to know what else we could do with the money that we would spend on the implementation of the crime bill. For example, if I took the equivalent money and spent it on getting people out of poverty...what impact would that have on us as a society compared to putting more people in jail. I just don't have a clear picture on what I am giving up to get this put in place. So how do we approve the expense? As mentioned by one of your other callers - is there cheaper more effective ways to achieve the result instead. I don't use drugs but legalizing marijuana would have a detrimental impact on organized crime.

Wendy Ospina
Toronto, Ontario

 

Your interview with the NDP justice critic caught my attention concerning how political this process truly is. By lumping together so many principles into one piece of legislature it is inevitable that there would be portions considered acceptable while others not so. The Conservative government doesn't seem to seek out consensus, rather setting out an all or nothing scenario. Opposition to the legislation is seen as an insult to the Conservatives and those in opposition are spun as "soft on crime". The unfortunate outcome is that the bill will be enacted compete with contentious issues or have the good elements be thrown out as the baby in the bath water. Finally, the scope of the legislation is so large that it is very difficult to get a real sense of all aspects. I fear that those with good intentions will vote to approve something that they will regret when all elements become part of Canadian life.

Robert Snippe
Toronto, Ontario

 

We need the war on drugs to stop. Instead use funds for social programs, housing, education and better policing. By better policing I mean training front line police workers in social work to be able to deal with addicts & mental health issues. Now we will find that the financial incentive is weakened for organized crime. We will have time and room to deal with criminals like pedophiles, murders, thieves etc. That's what I would like to see my tax money be spend on.

Vera Robinson
Victoria, British Columbia

 

The Conservatives are a party that cut fiscal expenses as one of their prime goals.   Those who champion the softer options that try to rehabilitate criminals are proposing very expensive options. I think that the main impetus of the proposed legislation is saving money and the Conservatives are willing to be ruthless to do it. Think of it this way:  if it would be cheaper -- in the short run (and I mean next five years) -- to follow the softer approach, they would be all over it.  However, they would be all over it because of the money, not because they actually care about individual citizens.

Carol Wilson
Toronto, Ontario

 

Some years ago, I was at a dinner party where some of the people at dinner were referring to the 'babies' at their workplace. It turned out these people were prison guards and the 'babies' they referred to were the prisoners. I found this very intriguing. The idea of prisoners as babies started a chain of thought, in my mind,  that goes like this: If there is all this money to spend on criminals in prisons, why is there so much resistance to spending this money on daycares and programs that support new parents? In other words, why not put this money into the real babies and work to prevent them from growing up to be drug addicts, criminals and prisoners.

Arlene Morgan
Vancouver, British Columbia

 

Without a thorough presentation of  substantiated statistics this discussion is not meaningful. Is it not the media's job to vet the bill on air, juxtapose it with a fully detailed presentation of crime statistics and then ask for a public response?  Too much of what the Tories and the opposition has to say has deteriorated into a he said, she said quarrel leaving  the electorate confused, divided and vulnerable to manipulation.

James Sutherland
Toronto, Ontario

 

I am apprehensive about this bill.  Without discussing the bill itself my experience at country auctions makes me wary.  These auctions are often trying to liquidate all assets.  There is a part of the auction where you will find pails & boxes of mostly junk, but to entice a bidder a couple of good items are placed on top of each.  If you want the good item you have to take the junk too. If the individual parts of this bill are important why is each part not discussed  and passed individually.  Why should we have to take junk to get the few things that we want or need?

Archie Robertson
Swift Current, Saskatchewan

 

I am not in favour of minimum sentencing, especially if the minimum is quite high. Judges are appointed to decide the penalty for a crime. The judge knows about the circumstance of a crime, and thus can decide on the suitable penalty. The safe-guard is that the crown can appeal a sentence that is too low. Furthermore, the over-riding principle of criminal law should be the protection of society - not revenge and not appeasement of victims or victim's right. Preventing a re-occurrence is most important.

George Malburg
Vancouver, British Columbia

 

As someone who has worked in crime prevention for 16 years I have sincere concerns about how the Canadian justice system will change as a result of Bill C10.  I have far greater concerns about how it will change the nature of Canada as a thoughtful nation.  This bill will not bring healing  to victims. This isn't about victims and their rights. If it were then the government would learn from the embarrassing failure of the US system in using deterrence as a method for decreasing crime and would invest in prevention of evidence based approaches.  The best service we can provide to victims is to ensure their numbers decline. This legislation will not accomplish that. It is expensive  and it will break its promise of a safer Canada.  High rates of incarceration at best produce very minor reductions in the crime rate. C10 may hence not just bankrupt the financial future of the country but also the moral future by rushing through a legislation without a clear view to the data.  We need to get beyond the sentiment to the substance of the matter. That can't be done by a wholesale approach. Let's hit pause and think this through ...carefully!  Canadians  deserve smart approaches. We know the research. Let's see it used. Maybe then we can get beyond the partisan nature of this debate. This is too important to be left just to the politicians. We need a broad based and serious debate.
 
Christiane Sadeler
Waterloo, Ontario

 


We need to devote more time as a society discussing the justice system as public participation is a key element.  The topic is both broad and complex and takes time to discuss.  Thanks to your program for facilitating our national discussion!

Mark Jowett
Ottawa, Ontario

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