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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN ON: Editorial: Stephen Harper's ''Tough-On-Crime' Laws Are
Title:CN ON: Editorial: Stephen Harper's ''Tough-On-Crime' Laws Are
Published On:2012-01-29
Source:Toronto Star (CN ON)
Fetched On:2012-01-31 06:01:59
STEPHEN HARPER'S "'TOUGH-ON-CRIME' LAWS ARE MORE MISGUIDED THAN EVER

For 20 years there's been a troubling disconnect between the reality
of crime in Canada and people's fear of it. The persistent "" though
mistaken "" view that crime is on the rise has allowed governments to
push through ever more "oetough-on-crime" laws.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives have taken this to
extremes. The omnibus Bill C-10 before the Senate right now will
foist enormous and unnecessary costs on taxpayers.

Yet in reality violent crime is down. Property crime is down. Other
crimes are down. Crime is at its lowest since 1973.

Finally, people are getting it. An Environics Focus Canada poll
released last week show that the number who think crime is on the
rise has dropped from 52 per cent to 46 per cent. Moreover 63 per
cent think Ottawa's crime-fighting focus should be on prevention.

Too bad Harper isn't listening. The Tories are as obstinate as ever
in their desire for harsher sentences, including for young offenders
and mandatory minimums for drug crimes. They ignore evidence from the
United States that a lock 'em up and throw away the key approach does
not reduce crime.

They also seem content to dump the costs of building more prisons
onto provincial taxpayers, even if services like health and education
suffer. Ontario may face $1 billion in new costs.

With a $16 billion deficit, the province is so short on cash that it
has scrapped popular programs like the $150 textbook grant for
college and university students. Now it is combing the health budget
looking for savings.

As more Canadians awake to declining crime rates, they will become
less tolerant of senseless, ideologically driven justice policy and
of bids to garner votes by fear-mongering. Provincial deficits and
the prospects of cuts to health and education will reinforce that trend.

Canadians might still rank crime as a big concern but it doesn't top
health care. Few will thank any government that closes a hospital to
pay for a new prison.
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