First and foremost, I would like to thank the Green Party of Canada for their initiative in spearheading a petition against the Omnibus Crime Bill.
As usual, I like to share the CPC rhetoric, just to show y’all the utter ridiculousness of this party.
Dear Member of Parliament,
As a voter and one of your constituents, I want to clearly express to you my
concerns with and opposition to Bill C-10 – the omnibus crime bill.
This legislation is severely flawed. While there are parts of the Bill that
are indeed worthwhile, I believe many of the others will undermine our
I do not believe a teenager charged with possessing over five marijuana
plants, even if the police allege they were for the purpose of trafficking,
should be treated more harshly than someone charged with sexually molesting a
In Canada we have a correctional system, not a penal system. I do not believe
mandatory minimum sentences serve the best interests of justice. This
legislation will fill our jails with people who should not be in jail.
I have seen the news reports from the United States. I know this approach to
justice has been tried there, and it has failed.
Furthermore, as a taxpayer, I am very concerned with what this legislation is
going to cost me. Each new prisoner will cost an additional $108,000 per year
of my money. I understand the new prisons that will need to be built to house
these extra prisoners will also cost billions more. In this time of deficits,
this is not how I want my government to spend my money.
As my representative in Parliament, I am therefore calling on you now to
faithfully respect the wishes of your constituents and vote against Bill
Laurie Hawn’s Letter
On September 20th, 2011, our Government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act, our comprehensive legislation that will target crime and terrorism and provide support and protection to victims of crime.
On May 2nd, 2011, our Government received a strong mandate from Canadians to continue making our streets and communities safe. This legislation introduced today will help us do exactly that. By moving quickly to reintroduce comprehensive law-and-order legislation, our Government is fulfilling our commitment to take action to protect families and hold criminals accountable.
Canadians want and deserve to be able to feel safe in their homes and communities and that means that criminals need to be off our streets. Our Government is committed to ensuring criminals are held fully accountable for their actions and that the safety and security of law-abiding Canadians and victims comes first in Canada’s justice system. We will continue to fight crime and protect Canadians so that our communities are safe places for people to live, raise their families and do business.
The Safe Streets and Communities Act re-introduces provisions from a number of previous bills, which were debated by Parliament during the previous session but never became law.
What the bill proposes to do is the following:
• Increase penalties for sexual offences against children target organized crime by imposing tougher sentences for the production and possession of illicit drugs for the purposes of trafficking;
• Ensure that violent and repeat young offenders are held accountable for their actions and that the protection of society is a paramount consideration in the treatment of young offenders by the justice system;
• Eliminate the use of conditional sentences or house arrest, for serious and violent crimes, enshrine a victims’ right to participate in parole hearings and address inmate accountability, responsibility and management;
• Extend the ineligibility periods for applications for a record suspension (currently called a “pardon”) from three to five years for summary conviction offences and from five to ten years for indictable offences;
• Add additional criteria that the Minister of Public Safety could consider when deciding whether or not to allow the transfer of a Canadian offender back to Canada to serve their sentence;
• Allow victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism; and,
• Authorize immigration officers to refuse work permits to vulnerable foreign nationals when it is determined that they are at risk of humiliating or degrading treatment, including sexual exploitation or human trafficking.
Since we took office in 2006, we have worked to make our streets and communities safer by ensuring we keep dangerous criminals behind bars. At the same time, we recognize that there are those who, while at risk, still have time to make the right choice and stay away from a serious life of crime. For youth at risk, our Government has been working to deliver the kind of action that will help them choose to stay on the right side of the law. We are:
• Helping to prevent youth involved in or at risk of being involved in a life of gang related activities spiral into a life of crime;
• Educating youth against drug use, as well as giving options for those who genuinely want help with addiction, in addition to cracking down on drugs at the source; and,
• Helping provide at-risk youth with the skills and support to make choices that will keep them on the right side of the law.
Today, as a result of our actions, many more youth who had been ‘at-risk’ of becoming serious offenders are instead become responsible and engaged law-abiding citizens in their communities. We recognize that the best way to tackle crime is to prevent it before it happens.
In December 2006, the Guns, Gangs and Drugs (GGD) component of the Youth Justice Fund was launched to focus on the rehabilitation of youth in conflict with the law. This fund responds to youth involved in the justice system and involved in, or vulnerable to, gun, gang or drug activities.
On October 4th, 2007, Prime Minister Harper unveiled Canada’s new National Anti-Drug Strategy. The Strategy provided funding to prevent illicit drug use, treat those with illicit drug dependencies and combat the production and distribution of illicit drugs. More than $230 million has been allocated nationally over five years, in three priority areas: preventing illicit drug use ($30 million), treating illicit drug dependency ($100 million), and combating the production and distribution of illicit drugs ($102 million). The National Anti-Drug Strategy is a collaborative effort involving the Departments of Justice, Health and Public Safety.
From 2006-2009, our Government provided over $83.5 million to advance Canada’s crime prevention and safer communities objectives under the National Crime Prevention Strategy. We also created the Northern and Aboriginal Crime Prevention Fund through the National Crime Prevention Strategy in recognition of the particular needs of the Aboriginal communities and Northern communities as it relates to crime and community safety.
Drug use among prisoners dramatically reduces their chances of rehabilitation. Tackling drug use and the drug trade in federal prisons would greatly increase the success of rehabilitation efforts, and it would go a long way in making the system safer for guards and prisoners.
We will ensure that every federal inmate undergoes drug testing at least once a year; that prisoners in possession of illicit substances will face appropriate additional charges; and, that parole applicants who fail drug tests will be denied parole.
In 2002, CSC expanded its four-year-old Methadone Maintenance Treatment. It was expanded to include all offenders in federal penitentiaries who were heroin and cocaine addicts and were willing to participate. (Previously, this treatment was only available to special-case offenders.).
In 2008, a new zero tolerance strategy was put in place to eliminate drugs in prisons. New technologies were used to search visitors. These technologies included more x-ray machines and ion scanner as well as additional staff deployed in towers and at watch points. In June 2008, a national database was created to track visitors across all institutions, and a scheduling system was established to ensure all visitors were properly screened and processed.
Correctional Services Canada (CSC) also increased the number of detector dog teams to aid in cutting off the flow of illicit drugs into institutions, to improve the effectiveness of visitor searches, and enhance inspections of inmate accommodations, working and common areas. As of 2010, over the next five years, the number of detector dog teams will increase from 46 to 126. CSC’s new anti-drug policy established a zero tolerance stance with respect to drug searching at federal prisons, and instituted a policy to protect children from being used to traffic drugs in institutions.
I recognize that there are concerns with this legislation and that it will simply ‘throw more criminals in jail’. There is also misleading information being spread around that our government is going to build “US-style mega prisons” and that our measures will lead to a massive influx of new prisoners. Please allow me to address this issue as well.
For example, I also know that there was recently a story on CBC’s The National lauding the example drug treatment courts in Texas as an effective measure to prevent crime. What the reporter failed to mention in the story was that there are currently six drug treatment courts across Canada, and that this legislation provides for their expanded use. The incarceration rate in Texas is also proportionately five times higher than in Canada. The Safe Streets and Communities Act includes specific exemptions for drug treatment courts, which are already operating across Canada. Our Government believes in a balanced approach in addressing crime which specifically targets criminal enterprise while providing treatment options for those who are addicted to drugs. Our Government will continue to put the interests of victims and law abiding Canadians first.
I have attached, for your information, a link to a Statscan report on crime statistics: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2011001/article/11523/hl-fs-eng.htm Please note the following bullets:
• “In contrast to most types of crime, increases were reported in the rates of child pornography offences (+36%), firearm offences (+11%), criminal harassment (+5%), and sexual assault (+5%).”
• “Drug offences also increased in 2010 (+10%), driven primarily by a higher number of cannabis offences. The overall increase continues the upward trend that began in the early 1990s.
The cost of crime on victims and society far exceeds the cost of fighting crime. Enclosed is a link to a report referenced by the Minister of Justice in his testimony before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on October 6, 2011:
http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/rs/rep-rap/2011/rr10_5/rr10_5.pdf The report states that in total, in 2008, the estimated total costs of crime were $99.6 billion. This amounts to a per capita cost of approximately $943. Last spring our Government provided the committee with hundreds of pages of documents which go into precise detail as to how we have costed our bills. The Minister of Justice recently tabled a summary of these documents at the Justice committee which show very clearly that Government of Canada officials have estimated the federal cost of the Safe Streets and Communities Act will be $78.6 million over five years. Clearly, the cost of our plan for addressing crime pales in comparison to the estimated $99 billion that crime costs Canadians each and every year. Our approach is proportional, reasonable and balanced.
This bill is the fulfilment of an election promise that we made this spring and we will continue taking the steps necessary to protect Canadians. While we recognize that the administration of justice, including the courts, is a provincial /territorial responsibility, we believe that working in collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners is important to ensure a strong justice system. Since our government took office, support payments to the provinces have increased by 30% or $12.7 billion. In Budget 2010-11, we announced transfer payments to the provinces and territories of $54 billion, an increase of $2.4 billion over last year. In addition to this, the provinces have indicated to Minister Nicholson, who relayed it to the Justice Committee on October 6, 2011, that they are supportive of the direction the government is moving in. If you would like to read more of Minister Nicholson’s testimony, I encourage you to do so at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=5161083&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1#Int-4359061
For too many years, our criminal justice system was going in the wrong direction — it focused more on the rights of criminals instead of the rights of victims. The justice system must put victims and public safety first – and Canadians agree. Our record speaks for itself: we have taken strong measures to get tough on crime and stand up for victims and we will continue to do so. It is clear that Canadians want and deserve to feel safe in their homes and communities and that means that criminals need to be off our streets.
Dear Mr. Hawn,
Thank you for your reply. Once again, I did not expect a response, but I welcome it.
Nevertheless, your response does nothing to abate my concerns with the proposed legislation. While there are worthwhile aspects to the bill, I oppose the nature of the omnibus. By treating the crime bill as one piece of legislation as opposed to dealing with each piece individually, the good parts are tainted by the less-useful parts of the bill. Since the Conservatives have a majority in place for the next 3.5 years, there should be no concern about not having enough time to make sure each piece of legislation, if necessary, should pass. By not allowing opposition MPs, who also represent Canadians and their ideals, to debate the merits of each piece of legislation, you are muffling a large portion of Canadians who did not vote for the Conservative Party of Canada. Over 60% of voters did not vote for this mandate of which you speak; you and your party need to represent us and our concerns as well.
As for the individual pieces of the legislation, I do have some things to point out:
”Authorize immigration officers to refuse work permits to vulnerable foreign nationals when it is determined that they are at risk of humiliating or degrading treatment, including sexual exploitation or human trafficking.” Have you heard of the phrase “victim-blaming”? If not, I highly suggest that you and your party research it. Instead of dealing with the source of the problem, you are dealing with the symptoms with this kind of proposed legislation; it’s the equivalent of cauterizing a wound without disinfecting it first. I suggest, instead, that you focus on the perpetrators of sexual exploitation or human trafficking instead of the victims.
”Ensure that violent and repeat young offenders are held accountable for their actions and that the protection of society is a paramount consideration in the treatment of young offenders by the justice system" In sociologist Bryan Hogeveen’s article "Is there Justice for Young People" points out that young people are disproportionally victims of crime and disproportionally represented in the correctional system and often have little recourse for obtaining justice. Often these youth are disproportionally impoverished. Would it not make more sense to alleviate their poverty as opposed to imprisoning them? This article is published in “Exploring Deviance in Canada” (ed. Ed Ksenych. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2011) and I highly suggest you get a copy and read it cover to cover.
As for the extensive section on marijuana prohibition, I feel the need to turn to world-respected philosopher Bertrand Russell: ”Of course, it may be said that, while an increasing number of people fail to observe the moral law, that is no reason for altering our standards. Those who sin, we are sometimes told, should know and recognize that they sin, and an ethical code is none the worse for being difficult to live up to. But I should reply that the question whether a code is good or bad is the same question as whether or not it promotes human happiness" (169, Why I am not a Christian)
Possession/Sale of marijuana is only prohibited because the government has declared it immoral; this stands in stark contrast to the values of Canadians. While I do not necessarily believe that this should be extended to use of more damaging drugs such as heroin, I do believe that the Conservative grandstanding about being tough on crime being extended to marijuana use is particularly ridiculous.
Finally, the Conservative rhetoric surrounding our justice system to be absolutely wrong. This proposed legislation does nothing to make me feel safer; in fact, I feel that under the Conservative Majority, Canada is becoming a police state.
I worry that the extreme costs will be passed onto taxpayers who are already stretched thin. As a constituent and a voter, I do not want my tax dollars spent on empty ideology and rhetorical grandstanding. Why not spend it on actual job creation or paying off the deficit, or social programs?
Once again, I urge you to take a stand. Remember that you need to represent more than a party; you need to represent voters, even those who didn’t vote for you.
Once again, thank you for your response.