We are fortunate to see what has happened in the United States when a government is "Stupid on Crime" because they don't want to be labeled "Soft on Crime".
The Americans are looking for ways to fix their broken system, so why is Stephen Harper and the Conservatives hellbent on traveling down this same doomed path? And why are the Liberals content to let them do it?
~ A person's intelligence may be judged
by the wisdom (or lack thereof) of his or her
actions, opinions or decisions.
Along with Jeff, Marc Holland gets it right too:
Tories take wrong road on crime
"The Harper government claims to be "tough on crime," but their discredited U.S.-style policies on crime and punishment are making Canadians less safe.
Their ineffective and costly plan, entitled A Roadmap to Public Safety, should more accurately be entitled A Roadmap to Public Disaster.
Modelled after failed American policies even diehard Republicans now admit are an abject failure, it will result in more prisons and longer sentences, while doing nothing to reduce recidivism. When over 90% of the prison population will be released, the Harper government's failure to seriously invest in vital programming needed for rehabilitation and reintegration, including substance abuse treatment and mental illness care, is nothing short of reckless."
Please also take the time and listen to Angela Davis' speech about the Prison Industrial Complex, and check out a prior post I wrote featuring a speech from Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance at the NAACP Conference.
"The U.S. has more people in jail than any other country. The General Accounting Office says the number of inmates has tripled since 1980. In this program, recorded in Colorado Springs, Angela Davis discusses how race, class and gender issues intersect with the drug war and the fast-growing prison industry."
I'm not a Member of Parliament, just a Mom from the "Suburban Inner City". If I can figure out the madness and failure in our current and upcoming drug laws, why can't our politicians? During debate in the House of Commons regarding Bill C-15, every time the Conservatives were asked to show their research that Mandatory Minimum Sentencing worked, they did not produce one shred of evidence.
"We're absolutely convinced, from our consultation with Canadians, that this is exactly what Canadians want us to do. ... We have the evidence that Canadians have told us that," Mr. Nicholson responded.
Mr. Harper kept stating "Canadians told me this is what they want." Well I am Canadian Mr. Harper, and I said no such thing. You have no right to speak for me and I am offended that you would make that assumption.
In fact, a 2007 Angus Reid poll concluded:
Canadians See Drug Offenses as Illness, Not Crime
February 01, 2007
(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Many adults in Canada believe prevention and treatment should be the main focus when dealing with drug users, according to a poll by Innovative Research Group released by CanWest News Service. 65 per cent of respondents think the consumption of illegal drugs is an illness.
I would also like to add that just because someone uses cannabis does not mean they are "an addict". We don't call everyone who drinks beer, wine or liquor Alcoholics because they unwind with a few drinks with friends on a Friday night. This study even highlights the popular trend of Canadian Suburbanites using cannabis as a safer alternative to alcohol.
Over 600,000 Canadians now have criminal records because they chose to use Cannabis. For the most part, these are otherwise law abiding, caring, socially productive individuals who have made a personal choice to use a naturally grown non-toxic plant which there has never been one recorded death. The crime is largely related to the Prohibition of the plant as the black market makes it a valuable commodity.
As mentioned above, I believe we need to be smart about crime. My kids are growing up here in our beautiful country and it is my duty to them to ask of my government to implement logical and realistic policies concerning crime. Someone sparking up a joint in their own home doesn't threaten my boys, but pedophiles do. Get your priorities straight, Steve - your ideological "throw 'em all in jail" stance isn't fooling me or the educated middle class.
Update- Great Article from Greg Weston: "CSI: Parliament Hill" Further proof that the Conservatives love to use propagandist scare tactics to gain votes based on fear, not facts.
Update #2 - Of course! The Conservatives will need more criminals to justify:
Pay up, Canadian Taxpayers!!!
UPDATE #4, May 2010 - The Conservative Government has reintroduced Bill C-15 - Bill S-10 ~ New Name For Bad Law regardless of the fact that America has proven that the Billions Spent Had Meager Effect In 40-Year War On Drugs.
UPDATE #5, September 22nd, 2011 - A new session of Parliament is now underway and The Conservatives have introduced C-10, combining 9 previous unpassed bills into one huge "Omnibus" Bill. The scariest red flag here is that it is legislation that lumps different crimes together - College kids growing six cannabis plants have no business belonging in the same Bill as paedophiles, that's just ridiculous! Crime is complex - you can't just act "Tough on Crime!" you need to be smart about crime and weigh each case individually on evidence and severity and use judicial discretion. Of course people want child predators behind bars, but imprisoning non-violent cannabis consumers in with the likes of Paul Bernardo is dangerous, reckless and an an infringement of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This time 'round, it looks like the Liberals are going to be brave and join together along with the NDP, Green & Bloc to stand up against this terrible piece of ideological legislation
"In the 2010 budget the government slashed Grants for the Victims of Crime Initiative by 43% and the Contributions to the Victims of Crime Initiative by 34%. This money would have gone directly to community groups that help victims recover from trauma. Furthermore, the government’s Fall 2010 advertising report showed that $6 million was set aside to produce an advertising campaign directed at victims of crime, while funding for the Victims of Crime Initiative last year amounted to just under $4 million. The ad campaign is shockingly hypocritical, since the Conservatives have spent more money on the ads than they have on actual initiatives to help victims of crime." - Former MP Marlene Jennings, Official Opposition Critic for Justice and the Attorney General