Conservative Party of Canada leader Stephen Harper has promised that, if returned to office, his government will make changes to the laws covering youth offenders. His proposals target youth who are 14 years of age or older.
Harper proposes a new law that would impose automatic, stiffer sentences for people 14 years of age or over who are convicted of serious violent crimes, such as murder, manslaughter or aggravated sexual assault. He also proposes that judges should have the option to give a life sentence in cases of first- or second-degree murder.
Moreover, the prime minister says that a mandatory publication ban should not apply in cases of certain teenagers who are convicted of serious violent crimes, allowing their names to be made public.
Later Harper said his government would crack down on the use of house arrest, or conditional sentences, for 30 more serious crimes.
In my view, Christie Blatchford of the Globe and Mail is one of the very best newspaper columnists in North America. She has a knack of striking at the very heart of her subjects, and her writing is lucid, informative and entertaining. She's the best thing the Globe and Mail has going for it these days.
Most recently, I read her column on Stephen Harper's changes for youth offenders. Here's a quote:
“All this is in the news now with the recent Conservative campaign push for law and order, a prospect that is oddly terrifying to many of those who live (and certainly to those who write newspaper editorials) in the country's biggest cities, where there isn't always such a lot of law and order around.”
You can read Blatchford's column here.