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Harper’s crime bill: trouble lies ahead

by The Concordian November 29, 2011
Harper’s crime bill: trouble lies ahead
Federal Bill C-10 is many things: a disaster waiting to happen.
Whether you call it the “Omnibus Crime Bill” or the much more suburban, voter-friendly “Safe Streets And Communities Act,” this piece of legislation adds another item to the list of reasons why Harper is not suited to lead a democratic country: complete disregard for fact.
Time and again, sociologists, social workers and activists remind us that programs empowering individuals are pretty much the only reasonable way to cut down on future crime. And then, rioters prove us wrong in a not-so-polite fashion. The more cynical among us might say those groups have a vested interest because they want to keep their jobs. So, it comes as a shock that a group of Texan conservative lawmakers are amongst the loudest group telling the Harper government to nix his bill.
Yes, that Texas. The one whose governor’s response to the execution of a likely innocent man was a twangy “meh.” Rick Perry, cartoon caricature of George Bush Jr. and current governor of the state, may not be part of the group trying to warn Harper, but his colleagues in government are. They’ve seen nothing but trouble arising from tough-on-crime legislation.
So how did it all go Pete Tong in Texas? The Republicans imposed mandatory minimum sentences on offenders, built jails and siphoned off cash that had been earmarked for rehabilitation programs. Before they knew it, they were faced with a frightening budget crisis. At one point, five per cent of adult Texans were in prison.
Let’s take this to its logical conclusion and apply it to this country. You know your 420 connection? Under Harper’s new bill, he would go to prison for a few years if ever caught by the police with his wares. All the cash used to keep him in that newly-built prison could have gone to something important, like transfer payments to Newfoundland, or a bureaucrat’s salary. And I won’t even speculate what would happen to him in prison. Watch Oz if you can stomach it.
Also take into account the many studies which have shown that most people who go to prison will return, and in fairly short order. And all this over a couple of ounces of oregano sprayed with Windex by the Hells Angels. Does that seem fair?
I’d say it’s time for us to rise up and declare in one voice that Harper has to stop, but we missed that opportunity. Thanks to a quirk of the Westminster system, a man with 54 per cent of the seats in Parliament can decide over the fate of 100 per cent of us. The Libs and the NDP have 44 per cent of the vote, but they could barely come together for a game of Texas Hold ‘em, let alone agree on anything.
Until a viable coalition or alternative party can form the government, this behaviour from the esteemed MP for Calgary Southwest will continue. We all want peace and security. Unfortunately it’s going to cost us, in monetary and human terms. The provincial governments are our only allies at this point, as they’re the ones who have the power to enforce their own laws.

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