“Stephen Harper’s Conservative government” are taking aim and shooting Canadians in the foot with the introduction of their tough-on-crime legislation. Keeping good on a campaign promise, the Conservatives have tabled Bill C-10 the Safe Streets and Communities Act, comprised of nine criminal justice bills they failed to pass in previous parliaments. They promised voters that the bill would be passed within the first one hundred sitting days of parliament.
The proposed measures, intended to “target crime and terrorism and provide support and protection for the victims of crime”, include tougher penalties for organized drug crimes (including mandatory minimum sentences), more accountability for youthful offenders, and a reduction in the use of conditional sentences (house arrest). Other aspects of the bill focus on protecting children from sexual predators and vulnerable immigrants from exploitation, increasing the rights of crime and terrorism victims, and putting more controls on pardons and international prisoner transfers – all seemingly well intentioned, but also rather unnecessary. In order to accommodate the anticipated increase in the prison population the Harper government has committed billions of dollars for expansion and operation costs within the federal prison system. Further costs will be downloaded to the provinces which are actually responsible for the bulk of Canadian inmates. Continue reading