Conservative Vision of Law and Order - Close but needs some polish
Following on PM the PM promising to ban handguns or crime or something else he can't really deliver after the tragic shootings in Toronto, the Conservatives have come out, in Toronto, with their version of a revamped justice system.
Given that it looks like the NDP might just hold the balance of power in a Conservative minority, let me help out my Conservative friends by indicating the stuff we could go for and the stuff we think is silly.
From the article:
"The Tories' security platform also includes proposals to:
1. Shut down the federal gun registry. - Well, it has cost way too much money, but it might be better just to implement a cheaper alternative within CPIC. Some police forces still think this is a good idea.
2. Raise the age of consent to 16 from 14 years old to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. - We already have laws in place to prevent adults from sexually exploiting teens. The Mulroney Conservatives dropped the age because young offender facilities were filling up with 17-year-olds whose only crime was having sex with or getting a blow-job from their 14 and 15 year old girlfriends. Have we had a spate of 14 and 15 year old being sexually exploited since then? You realize we can pass laws that protect these teens from exploitation while still allowing them to consent to sexual activity, right? If you don't want your 14-year-old to have sex, try education and parenting. Or prove our current criminal santions against sexual exploitations aren't working. This is nothing more than pandering to the social conservative, religious right. It is not good social policy.
3. Sentence anyone 14 years old convicted of a serious violent crime or repeat offence as an adult. - Wait a minute, didn't you guys just say that a 14-year-old was not mature enough to consent to sex? But they are somehow mature enough to be liable to adult criminal sanctions? This is another case of "we already got one" - the Young Offenders Act already has (and always had, actually) provisions for transfering to adult court in cases where the offender had the maturity, determined on a case-by-case basis. Its even been used. Sending every 14-year-old who commits a serious offence to adult jail is enrolling them in crime school (read "Go Boy!" by Roger Caron for a shining example) and will seriously raise our crime rate in years to come. This was the effect of the old Juvenille Delinquents Act and was one of the reasons it was replaced. Sorry, again this is pandering to the so-con, religious base. Make up your mind - either they are mature enough or they aren't.
4. Re-establish the Canada Ports Police to combat drug smuggling. - Good idea.
5. Allow border guards to carry sidearms. - As long as Canada Customs and the officers themselves are good with that, go for it. Keeping in mind when I worked for a summer as a border guard in Sarnia, these guys were more about taxes and duties than security. The Mounties did the security stuff. Times change, of course.
5. Expand the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to allow it to spy overseas. - This one is going to need a little more explanation. Given the CSIS gaffes with Air India and Mahar Arar case, there had better be some damn good oversite before we let these guys do this. And I'd sure like some costing to make sure this is worth it.
Harper also said
"...the Conservatives would invest in programs to help at-risk youth avoid
getting involved in gangs and drugs...mandatory minimum prison terms of
between five and 10 years for major firearms offences, and a minimum sentence of
five years for people convicted of possessing a loaded restricted or prohibited
weapon, such as a handgun. There would be no more conditional sentences, or
so-called house arrest, for serious gun crimes, he said. "
That's good and, escept where I have indicated some issues above, this matches what Jack Layton said after the shooting on boxing day:
"These crimes remind us that we must get illegal handguns off our streets
in Toronto and across Canada. To do that we need tougher border controls,
tougher sentencing for weapons offenses, and tougher anti-gang policing,
prosecutions and sentencing.
We need more effective witness protection
programs, and more compassionate victim assistance. We also need to get tougher
- much tougher - on poverty, unemployment and social exclusion"
In otherwords, except for a few glaring points, the NDP can probably work with the Conservatives on this. We may have to debate 'aggrevating circumstance' versus 'mandatory minimums', but the idea of tougher sentences is still there. Add that to the Accountability Act and Electoral Reform and we might have a pretty productive session.
Hell, I'll bet some of the Liberals could back this stuff.Update:
The NDP has released their crime and justice plaform as well. Kinda familiar, eh? What do you think? I know Candace is impressed and she is not usually that impressed with us lefties.
For the record, the one part of my own party's platform I don't agree with is the reverse onus legislation. This is a clear violation of the Charter, as per R. v Oak. Despite the hysteria and concern around gun crime, I firmly believe you are innocent until proven guilty and I can't agree with imposing that kind of rule, even for bail. I don't think that kind of limit can be justified in a free and democratic society. Sorry if this upsets my fellow Dippers, but there it is.
The rest of the platform, of course, is very well done.
Upper Upper Date:
Amber Jones from the Progressive Bloggers has an excellent, well reseached piece that warns against increasing sentences as the solution to crime. While I think in the instance of gun crime, we need to boost sentences, she is right for crime in general. And this piece further shows the need to have the right social programs in place to really prevent crime - support for the poor, well-paying jobs and real prospects will prevent far more crime than a few extra years in jail. My hope is that the program's Jack Layton and the NDP call for as part of this platform make it so the sentences never need to be used.