Opinion

Ottawa getting dumb on crime

The federal Liberals plan to shoot down a crime bill proposed by the Conservatives that would include stiffer sentences for drug possession and could also require tens of millions, even billions of dollars, to build new prisons.

The Liberals also worry that Bill S-10 — which has been passed by the Senate and is now before the House of Commons — would unfairly target younger criminals, as it would carry the same mandatory six-month sentence for possessing six marijuana plants as it would for having 200.

“This bill isn’t tough on crime, it’s dumb on crime,” said Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. “We’re all in favour of cracking down on serious criminals, but this bill doesn’t distinguish between massive grow-ops and a first-time offender with a small amount.”

The Conservatives haven’t actually said how much it would cost to implement the bill, or build new prisons, or where they would be constructed. But the bill is expected to put more people in jail, despite what health professionals say: there is no evidence that mandatory minimum sentences will reduce drug use or deter crime.

A group of 400 leading physicians and scientists has issued a statement criticizing the legislation, claiming that it is not scientifically grounded and that research demonstrates it may contribute to health and social harms.

Crime rates in Canada have been declining in recent years, without such a bill.

Even in the U.S., a conservative group is arguing for more responsible criminal justice spending. Why not here, where, according to Health Canada, more than 40 per cent of Canadians have used marijuana. Nearly half the country has disregarded the law on marijuana use, so the Conservatives want to spend potentially billions of dollars locking up those who grow it.

This whole discussion inevitably leads back to the issue of prohibition and legalization, but what it’s really about is getting re-elected, not what makes sense.

Mr. Ignatieff is right. That is dumb.

— Black Press

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

A celebration of Kootenay craft
 
Pro-D of contemporary craft artists
 
Expression Collective
Bear bin on back burner
 
LETTER: E-cigarettes are just as bad as real ones
 
VIDEO: Witnesses describe scene at Parliament Hill; Raw footage of Ottawa shootings
Okanagan Film Festival draws top films, big talent and many sleepless nights
 
Okanagan artist showing in Coors Western Art Exhibition
 
Local dancers celebrate international dance week

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 22 edition online now. Browse the archives.