Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tough on crime just in time

The opposition parties are giving our Ottawa Tories a hard time over their latest tough-on-crime legislation. Too expensive, they argue. Too much emphasis on jail-time. Not needed at a time when crime rates are falling. To which I ask, On what planet do they live?

These are the same progressives who are forever “street-safing” their kids and driving them everywhere, because it’s not safe to be on the streets. And those who take comfort from declining crime rates probably haven’t spent much time lately in Toronto’s Keele-Finch corridor after 9:00 p.m. Or been on the mean streets of the former villages of Parkdale or Rexdale. Or how about Mississauga’s Malton area?

And that’s just a few parts of Toronto and nearby regions. The picture repeats itself in other communities in that city and, indeed, in larger communities across the country, especially in Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Don’t the soft-on-crime crowd know that in recent decades Toronto has been infiltrated by violent American street gangs such as the Bloods, Crips, and Mara Salvatrucha, which have become large and powerful over the years? Or don’t they care?

And, of course, there’s the “mob”. Ever tried a major construction project in Montreal? If you did, believe me, you’d get to meet the local mob’s representative pretty quickly. And those bullet-ridden bodies that show up regularly in that city aren’t television actors, you know.

Violent crime is a major problem in our country. And although the rate may have fallen in the recent past, it is still much higher that it was in the 1950s. Why should we accept a higher rate of violence now that we did back then? Apparently, opposition MPs believe we should. I don’t.

I applaud the Conservative government in its efforts to make our communities safer.



© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.


  1. Except there's no evidence to back you up. Their tightening of MJ laws will make that trade more violent.

  2. Some of this is OK and even overdue. But most of it is dumb.

    It's not a matter of being soft on crime to say that someone who grows 6 pot plants in their own basement doesn't deserve a worse, longer, mandatory minimum sentence than a first time pedophile or that that 2 years in jail for the pot grower is draconian.

    Even conservatives in the US have said the drug wars have failed and are counter-productive and are abandoning the "throw 'em all in jail forever" approach.

    It may be "tough on criminals" but it sure ain't "tough on crime".

    Treating all criminals and all crimes the same with the same approach - hard time everyone: no home sentencing, no rehabilitation efforts, harder-to-get probation, harder-to-get pardon even for the most non-violent crimes - is "dumb on crime" and will result in higher crime rates. We have seen this happen in the US.

    This is emotion driven, not intelligence or results driven. It's dumb, not tough, on crime.

  3. As an example, as reported here, back in the fall of 2007, two very drunk men, who had previously been romantically involved, were arguing outside a Winnipeg bar. One shoved the other, who fell and hit his head on the pavement, stood up and walked away, but died a few days later from the injury. When the man who had pushed him went to trial, his lawyer and the Crown prosecutor agreed he shouldn’t go to prison. The judge accepted their joint recommendation, and Jeffrey James Bear, then 33, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 15-month conditional sentence. That meant he would be allowed to serve his time, with restrictions, out in the community instead of behind bars. It was an extremely unusual case—the vast majority of “house arrest” sentences are handed out for much more minor offences.

    The Conservatives, and you apparently Russ, think he deserves to be behind bars doing hard time, not house arrest even though it was an accident and no prior record. And he should be doing hard time for a minimum of 5 years in jail. Just like the truly violent criminal with a long criminal record who's getting manslaughter because the Crown didn't have a great case for murder.

    No discretion at all to the judge. Doesn't matter if he had no prior record. Doesn't matter if he had kids and a family to support. Doesn't matter what the context was.

    With Harper's dumb on crime legislation, we will have:

    1. many many many more cases litigated, meaning more costs and more clogging of the courts and more dismissals because it took too long to bring the accused to trial;

    2. no change and probably an increase in the crime rate;

    3. huge huge costs when the Harper Deficit is already record-setting and we can't afford it;

    4. broken families for minor offences, leading to more crimes in the next generation;

    5. and perhaps worst of all, with the Liberal Party still in disarray, likely an NDP government in 2014 since Harper's dumb-on-crime agenda is so out of whack with Canadians and after 4 years we'll see the damage it and Harper has wrought.

  4. Let's hope the intent of the bill isn't sabotaged by activist Judges,who are capable of giving extremely harsh sentences for minor crimes,if it can be attributed to Harper's crime bill.

  5. But the examples you use to prove your point go right to the most extreme, which is not how the overwhelming majority of Canadians engage with the police or the judicial system.

    To use Toronto as an example and jump right to Parkdale (which is getting better and safer every day) and Keele/Finch is misleading. It would be the same as talking about drug use in Canada and jumping right to Vancouver's downtown East side. Neither of these places are emblembatic of their larger communities.

    And while the presence of the mob in Montreal is unfortunate (no argument here), the average Canadian is not trying to develop a major construction project in Montreal. To the average Canadian, this just means jail time for minor drug offences and the like.

    But then there is money to be made in locking too many people up.

  6. Wasn't there a recent warning about being caught in the cross fire.
    Rae promises to recind all these laws after the next election. Does he really think that stmt will win his party votes.

  7. Im with you Russ.Im also for mandatory drug testing for welfare cases.I was on the system when i was younger and thats all i did as a single male at the time.

    Safe injection areas in BC?Dont get me started.Ive watched what happens when a childhood friend of mine whither away due to heroin abuse.She is now on synthetic heroin thanks to these do gooders and on the taxpayers dime.Its retarded.


  8. Ted,

    Your argument that, with PM Stephen Harper's crime legislation, we will "probably [have] an increase in the crime rate" leaves me speechless.

    As to your assertion that PMSH's crime agenda "is so out of whack with Canadians," if one travels outside the progressive strongholds of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver one will find that the Tory approach for dealing with crime is very much mainstream.

    Regardless of what justice system we--or any society--adopt, they'll be injustices. That's why it's seldom wise to depend on a single extreme example to make a case.

    It seems to me your comments are all about protecting criminals, and softening the consequences of their criminal activity--at least, as the consequences affect them. Give some thought for their victims, please. Get criminals off the streets and keep them where they will not hurt anyone for a good long time.

    We've been trying it the Liberal way for decades; it hasn't worked. Violent crime, drug-related crime and organized crime is out of control in Canada and we need to try other methods to deal with the situation. Your team had their change and didn't get the job done.

    It's time for the Tories to clean up the mess left by the Liberals.

  9. Sorry, Russ, but that makes no sense.

    If you are telling people you will be throwing people in jail more often, creating new crimes, eliminating any discretion from judges, etc., you will obviously create an uptick in the crime rate.

    At the same time, you are making a mess of the justice system that will take years to fix. Harper is not only significantly increasing our costs, but he's dumping billions of dollars of costs on the provinces without any consultation with cops or prosecutors who are already overworked and underpaid.

    Those people live in the real world. Not Harper.

    And how can you say it "doesn't work" when all the data points to the fact that it is working. Crime is now the lowest it's been since the 1960s. Was it lower in the 1950s? In some areas, yes, but rehabilitation works and proper full rehabilitation programs were not in place even in the 1960s.

    You ask me to think of the victims. I ask you to think of the victims. It has been shown over and over again that simply throwing people into jail, for hard time, without any flexibility, turns them into worse criminals far more likely to commit further crimes. Yet Harper, and presumably you, don't want to think about those victims and actually avoid crime. You just want to punish for crimes that have already occurred.

    The idea that throwing someone in jail so you don't have to deal with them is sticking your head in the sand while a fire rages thinking it will just go out on its own. Instead, we're all going to get burned by Harper's justice mess.

    Makes no sense.

    As for Canadians, poll after poll shows us broadly supporting Harper's agenda. However, when you bear down on the details and ask people if they think you should have a permanent criminal record and 6 months in jail for growing 6 pot plants, or if someone who has no criminal record and a family injures someone in a careless accident should be thrown in jail for minimum 5 years... the answer is invariably NOT what Harper wants to hear. Which is why he dismisses facts and statistics and an evidence-based approach to policy.

  10. You make valid points, Ted, but I remain unconvinced that your way works, other than to go too easy on crooks and, maybe, save a few bucks.

    But I'm OK with that, at least, you're always sincere. Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting.

  11. Ted, all around the world, throughout history, totalitarian regimes have achieved very low crime rates with strict punishments; and you can't reasonably think that in a no-punishment society you would get lower crime rates. I don't support totalitarianism. I am just pointing out the error in your "soft on crime will reduce crime" theory. Your evidence only works on cherry picked examples.

    I do agree with you, on the problem with costs, but my solution would be to stop spending $100,000 a year on a prisoner, not shorter sentencing.