I usually don’t endorse particular political parties, but I have to say, I really like what I’m hearing from the candidates in the Liberal Party leadership race, at least when it comes to crime.
Deborah Coyne summed it up really nicely in my interview with her last week.
“Incarcerating people is not going to make us safer,” she said. “Mr. Harper has simply played political football with the criminal code. What I would say to Canadians is that the criminal code is not something that you just amend like the Tax Act; it is part of our social fabric. It is supposed to be increasing our strength as a society and it undermines it when you just do mandatory minimums.
“He’s very hostile to the judiciary, tries to take away all the discretion. That’s ridiculous. You’re a prime minister, you have to respect the constitution. The judiciary is independent. We have a selection process. It’s not perfect, but it ensures independent thought.”
Coyne’s plan is to set up a Criminal Justice Panel that would oversee all changes to the criminal code. It’s a plan that makes a lot of sense. The justice system must be arms length from Parliament.
The entire “tough on crime” agenda of the current government is wrongheaded.
Martha Hall Findlay, who was also in town last week pointed out all the evidence suggests it just doesn’t work.
“The irony is there’s a whole group of republicans in the United States, they call themselves “right on crime,” states like Texas that have said, ‘our so-called tough on crime system, not only did it not work, it’s back-fired, it’s caused more problems’,” she said. “In Canada, crime has gone down for 40 years. Violent crime has gone down for 40 years. The problem is we’ve allowed Stephen Harper to govern the discourse.”
She is right. When American conservatives are admitting they made a huge mistake with the tough on crime policy, why on Earth do our conservatives want to follow them down that hole?
The Liberals have also come out with a policy position to legalize marijuana.
“Decriminalization is half-assed because it doesn’t address the trafficking, it doesn’t address the criminal element, which are the key parts we need to get rid of,” said Hall Findlay.
“Criminal violence is the biggest single problem here. It’s easier for a kid to get marijuana than it is to get alcohol, so clearly [prohibition] is not working. It should be regulated and it should be taxed.”
They are saying all of the right things.
Of course, Liberals Party have been saying the right things for years, but not doing the right things. They had a chance to vote against Harper’s crime bills, but didn’t because, according to Hall Findlay, they were afraid they would look soft on crime.
They also couldn’t afford an election.
So, if this is an endorsement, it is a tentative one. The jury is still out, so to speak, on whether the new leader who will be elected in April can turn the party’s words into action.
Interesting times are ahead.