Citizen Action Monitor

Canadians will be less safe, more fearful under Harper’s Omnibus Crime Bill, say critics

“I think fear is at the basis of much of the government’s work here.” -–David Daubney

No 422 Posted by fw, February 27, 2012

Critics of the Tory crime bill found much to criticize at a Senate committee hearing. Drawing on a Canadian Press article, Judges and victims advocate say Tory crime bill will make Canada less safe, by Bruce Cheadle, February 23, 2012, key arguments, pro and con, are highlighted below in a bulleted list. To read the original story, click on the linked title.

OTTAWA – A group including a victims’ advocate, two retired judges and a former Conservative MP say Canadians will be more fearful and less safe five years from now under criminal justice changes being made by the Harper government –

Stephen HarperPRO — “We’re acting on a clear mandate of the people and I think people expect that we will make sure that society and victims do not bear all the costs of crime in this country.”

Barry Stuart, retired chief judge of the Yukon Territorial Court – CON — Judges and the public must remember that every person jailed for a year costs the public purse $100,000 — money that could be better spent on rehabilitation, education, poverty reduction or health care. I’m a judge. I have to make my decisions on the best evidence. I haven’t seen the best evidence for spending this incredible amount of money on something we know doesn’t work. In fact we spend more best-evidence testing on what military plane we’re going to buy than we do on this huge expenditure that’s going to affect every community and every street. I’d like the same test applied to the justice system.”

Steve Sullivan, former Harper appointee as first federal ombudsman for victims of crime – CON — In the absence of cost-benefit analysis, crime policies are based on ‘gut feeling.’ It’s a powerful driver.

Sandra Dion, and two other sexual assault victims – PRO — “[This is] the dawn of a new era. . . the beginning of the pendulum swinging back and finding the balance between the rights of victims and the rights of offenders.”

Diane Tremblay, another victim of violence who supports the new tougher sentences – PRO — When asked by a Liberal senator what flaw she saw in the justice system in her sad experience, she replied: “I wasn’t heard by the court, I wasn’t believed — not until there was another victim.” Her rapist received a two-year conditional sentence. She argued that if her rapist hadn’t been given a conditional sentence, his next victim would not have happened.

Barry Stuart, retired chief judge of the Yukon Territorial Court – CON — It’s a compelling story, but those who deal continually with offenders say it misses the key point. Unless we lock up all offenders for life, they will emerge back into society. Longer sentences don’t result in better citizens coming out the other end. The reverse is true. “Five years from now we’re going to have a lot of people coming back from crowded jails without being rehabilitated, and coming back into communities … that aren’t going to want them because they’re going to be worse than when we sent them off.”

Steve Sullivan, – CON — Victims seldom feel they find justice in the courts, and that won’t change with tough new sentences under Bill C-10. “It’s being sold as a bill that’s going to benefit victims of crime. In fact, we’re concerned it’s going to be the opposite. Provincial Crown prosecutors say their caseload is already at the breaking point and they’ll be overwhelmed by the new laws, meaning more charges are stayed and more plea bargains on lesser charges. That’s not an agenda that benefits victims of crime who turn to the system for justice.”

David Daubney, former chair of the House of Commons justice committee under the Mulroney Conservatives in the mid-1980s — CON –— “I think fear is at the basis of much of the government’s work here. What it’s going to do, unfortunately, is make Canadians more fearful and less safe … and it’s all being done in the name of victims.”

Don Bayne, Canadian Criminal Lawyers’ Association – CON – “The tragedy here is this is a failed policy.”

RELATED READING

  • Crime bill won’t benefit victims, says former ombudsman, by Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News, Feb 23, 2012 – Steve Sullivan, who was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the first victims’ ombudsman, said Bill C-10 is being touted as legislation designed to benefit victims but there are concerns it could hurt them instead.
Fair Use Notice: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing.

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