As jobless rate climbs and inflation soars, the government is worried about unreported crime

Gas prices are up 23% from August of last year.  I know that most people will be concerned about that.  It is a large part of what is driving inflation in this country and reverses the trend that saw rates falling as recently as May of this year.  When combined with a jobless rate that is creeping upward and a downward trend in consumer purchasing it is becoming clear that, once again, the economic picture isn’t rosy.

Even the IMF has chimed in with a forecast of tough economic times for Canada stating more unemployment is coming our way.  International markets responded as might be expected to that news.

Given the gravity of the statistics and projections, one would expect the Conservatives to have hit the ground running in an attempt to stem the tide – not so.  Your federal government’s immediate priority is unreported crime.  To that end, they have put forth an omnibus crime bill that will end up costing Canadians billions and are claiming to have been elected on it.

If you recall them being elected on the claim of being good fiscal managers, then your memory of the election is, in fact, intact.  Not to dismiss the concerns that surround our Justice system, but the simple facts are that crime rates have been decreasing for 20 years, while bad economic news is outweighing any that is good.

There will always be ways to tweak our justice system and improve results for all Canadians.  Victims of crime have every right to claim the system treats them as afterthoughts in the process.  That said, putting more petty criminals in jails at a high cost to the public purse will not address victims’ concerns or make our communities any safer.   If tough sentences and high incarceration rates were real deterrents, the United States would be about the safest, law-abiding place on earth.  

More police on our streets would go a long way to increasing safety in our communities.  That is a promise the Conservatives failed to honour from their initial victory in 2006 and should be held to account on.  In that election, they promised to put an additional 2,500 officers on the beat.  Instead, and five years later, we get mandatory minimum sentences, which only increase prison populations and download the cost on the provinces.   At the end of the day, the cost will fall on taxpayers, either through reduced services or increased taxes.

True to form, the Conservatives have jumped right to name calling and character assassination for those who suggest there are ways to improve their legislation.  People who don’t agree with this bill are being labelled, predictably, ‘soft on crime’ or are the target of more creative slurs like ‘friends of human smugglers’ to give just a few examples.    Again, they refuse to debate content and jump right at intent or character issues. 

Ultimately, we have to consider how best to deal with crime in Canada.  Will we spend incredible sums to incarcerate more and more of our population?  Will we ignore the imbalance of that prison population which is skewed to over-represent the mentally ill, addicted and members of our First Nation communities?  Will we pay heed to the evidence that suggests tough sentencing does not improve public safety?  Or, will we make some refinements and get to work on creating more jobs, more vibrant communities and a more prosperous Canada.