A deeply flawed compensation system has further victimized crime victims in Ontario, Tim Hudak charged Sunday as the Progressive Conservative leader again pressed a favourite Tory theme.

With the campaign for the Oct. 6 election heading toward its final stretch, Hudak took the Liberals to task for the "horror show" that is the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

In Brantford, Hudak met the Bayne family, whose son Isaak, then 22, spent five weeks in a coma and was left with brain damage after thugs hit him on the head with a cinder block during a robbery at a bank machine in 2003.

The "kangaroo court" compensation board put them through the "bureaucratic ringer" and "three years of hell," Hudak said.

"That is unacceptable: It's wrong and people are damn tired of the rights of criminals coming ahead of the rights of victims."

Hudak said the board was "cold-hearted" to ask Isaak Bayne to describe what happened to him, even though the family explained he suffered from short-term memory loss and couldn't do that.

"Anyone that has blood running through their veins knows that people like Isaak and his family should get help," Hudak said. "Victims are being put through a second degree of hell."

The pointed language and focus on crime comes as Tuesday evening's critical pre-election debate draws close.

Polls suggests the lead the Tories had going into the election has receded and the Liberals and Conservatives are essentially deadlocked.

'Tough on crime' key plank in Hudak platform

Hudak has taken a page from the federal Tory handbook and made tough-on-crime policies a key plank in his platform.

After starting the process in December 2003, Bayne and her family finally got $25,000 — the maximum for pain and suffering — at the end of October 2006.

Wendy Bayne said she was told to redo paperwork but not told what needed to be fixed, had to deal with constantly changing case workers, and was told only her husband could contact the board because he signed the original form.

"The system is set up to make you quit," she said. "They want you to back off; they want you to give up on the system; they want you to forget about getting any money from them."

If the Tories win the election, Hudak said he would slash the red tape, ensure victims are represented on the board and direct money from the Victims Justice Fund to victims.

The Conservatives also say the Liberal government has been sitting on a $31-million surplus in that fund.

The Liberals counter that the money has been committed to victim-services programs and is not a surplus. In fact, they say, when the Liberals came to office in 2003, theprevious Conservative government had left a $70-million surplus in the fund.

The Tory leader, who also cast his vote Sunday in Stoney Creek, Ont., at an advance polling station in his Niagara West-Glanbrook riding, said the Liberals are playing "fast and loose" with the figures.