Jack Layton is vowing to do more to prevent crime, saying an NDP government would partner with local communities to eliminate gang violence and make neighbourhoods safer.
The federal NDP leader told people gathered at a youth centre in Surrey, B.C. on Thursday his party would increase funding for youth gang prevention and increase the number of police officers on the street.
"Families are increasingly worried about their kids getting involved in gangs," said Layton. "We need action now to stop gang recruiting and get more police officers on to the streets of our neighbourhoods."
Layton criticized the Conservative government's approach to crime, saying they were too concerned with building "more and more prisons."
If elected, the NDP would boost federal support for the National Crime Prevention Centre to $100 million per year.
The party would also increase and make permanent the youth gang prevention fund, which supports programs aimed at keeping kids away from crime. Funding for the program would go from $7.5 million to $16.5 million.
The NDP would also invest $75 million a year in federal support for a shelter system and women fleeing violence.
Manitoba Conservative candidate Shelley Glover defended her party's record on getting tough on crime while in government, while also noting the Tories have seven elected police officers in their caucus.
"We believe that it’s important that we put the money towards protecting our communities," she said during a panel interview with CBC's Power & Politics with Evan Solomon.
Would double recruitment fund
The NDP leader said strong street-level policing was also an important part of a crime strategy.
"When we hear police officers tell us that if we had more officers on the street, we could prevent crime, we should be listening," he said.
He said the NDP would double and make permanent the police officer recruitment fund. The party said there would be annual increases over the following three years with a goal of adding 2,500 new police officers.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities praised the NDP pledge, calling it a "critical investment" in frontline policing.
"Federal downloading has left municipal forces overstretched — without a new approach these costs will push property taxpayers to the breaking point and crowd out other core services," FCM President Hans Cunningham said in a statement.
Layton also said that the NDP would make gang recruiting illegal, and home invasions and carjacking stand-alone crimes.
The crime strategies would cost roughly $250 million in 2011-2012, the party said.