3 min

More “tough on crime” lies

With their poll numbers tanking as a result of prorogation, the Conservatives decided that it was once again time to play to the base – more “tough on crime” talk, this time focusing on young offenders. But this whole exercise is nothing more than a repository for hyperbolic statements that don’t actual bear out in reality.

After all, there’s the whole commitment to these “tough on crime” laws. The justice minister, Rob Nicholson, went on Power & Politics and railed with bluster and thunder about how they couldn’t pass anything because of that darn Liberal Senate blocking everything, and it was so great that they’d have these new Senators to help them pass these bills.

But it was all bullshit. Every last bit of it. We’ve seen conclusive proof that the Senate hasn’t held up a single crime bill, nor have they gutted anything – they amended very bad legislation, as is their constitutional duty, and they did it fairly expeditiously in Parliamentary terms. In fact, they did it in less time than those same bills were in the Commons.

When I interviewed Senator Joan Fraser, chair of the legal and constitutional affairs committee, for the article I did on the unspoken costs of this “tough on crime” agenda, she said this:

We in fact have not amended or obstructed in any way the vast majority of crime bills. We haven’t obstructed any of them. We hadn’t amended very many of them at all, and we hadn’t gutted any of them. Those that we have amended, and I can say that with real confidence because I’ve been on the legal committee all the way through, we have been very careful to ensure that all of the amendments that were made in the committee were within the scope of the bill and were not contrary to the stated purpose of the bill – that’s Parliamentarily sound procedure. It’s just an urban myth that we’ve gutted anything or obstructed anything.

Most of the Conservative crime bills were sitting in the Commons on the Order Paper, not being moved ahead by the government House Leader. It’s a falsehood for Nicholson to say the Senate obstructed anything (not that this is the first time that Fraser has had to smack Nicholson down). It’s also a falsehood to say that these five new senators – who are likely to be named today – will significantly shift the balance of power on these crime bills because those pesky independent senators still hold the power, and many of them, like Senator Elaine McCoy (who I will remind you, is made of awesome), doesn’t support this government’s backwards crime agenda either.

Of course, there is always the basic illogic of the Conservative positions that 14 year-olds are mature enough to be face trial as adults and face adult sentences, and yet they’re not mature enough to have consensual sex… I’ve never been able to figure out that particular disconnect.

And as for that appearance on Power & Politics, why wasn’t Evan Soloman calling him on any of this bullshit? A little more rigour in holding the feet of the government to the fire would be appreciated.

Also rich – Harper, over in Davos, talking about “enlightened sovereignty” and also, doesn’t he have a great approach to climate change? No, seriously.

“Mr. Harper has not earned a reputation for ‘enlightenment’ on the international stage,” Scott Brison, also in Davos, responded.

Harper also said that in his experience, if you make bad policy for the sake of good communications that it’ll catch up with you eventually. Really? Because he’s been making all kinds of bad policy for the sake of optics (hello his whole crime agenda for a random example), and it hasn’t entirely “caught up” with him yet, even if his poll numbers are finally starting to head south. My guess is that this is just his “statesman” personality that he puts on for foreign visits only, and that we’ll see the usual Harper soon enough back on home soil.

The Liberals held their roundtable on veterans’ issues, and say that the veterans’ charter needs to be overhauled.

Up today – the Supreme Court is due to rule on the Omar Khadr case. This could be very interesting…

The Liberals are hosting roundtables on the impact of dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as a “virtual” roundtable on health.
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