Stephen Harper, yesterday. “First of all, we know that those who have traditionally advocated soft-on-crime policies will continue to oppose this kind of legislation It is essential for deterrence to have strong penalties that we know will be enforced … The truth of the matter is, those who say that tougher penalties on perpetrators will not work don’t want them to work, because they don’t believe in this kind of approach … les soi-disons ‘experts’ s’opposent à ces législations, ce sont les experts qui nous ont donné la situation actuelle.”

Despite such talk, the so-called “experts” continue to assert their so-called “grasp” on so-called “reality.”

Wally Oppal, Attorney General for British Columbia.  “I know that people who commit crimes do not always go to Martin’s Criminal Code before committing their crimes … If you look at what’s happening in the U.S. where they have longer jail terms than any other Western democracy, we know that their streets are not safer. In fact most American cities have higher crime rates than any other Western democracy.”

Jim Chu, Vancouver police chief. “By the time a vulnerable youth has been recruited into the gangs, he’s long past caring about the threat of jail.”

Ross Hastings, director of the Institute for the Prevention of Crime at the University of Ottawa. “The one thing that will make you slow down to the speed limit is seeing a police officer in your rear-view mirror. The certainty of being caught has much more influence on your behaviour than the severity of the punishment you may or may not be subjected to.”

David Paciocco, law professor. “If you think this is going to make everyone safer, that is not going to happen.”

Michael Chettleburgh, a criminal justice analyst and author of Young Thugs. “Right now we are navigating in the fog around the gang issue. For many gang members, tougher laws doesn’t matter. They don’t pay attention to tougher laws.”

Irvin Waller, criminologist. This is yet again a debate about penalties when it’s very clear from looking south of the border that these penalties do not make a lot of difference to the number of people killed. It’s not a debate about what will actually stop them from happening.”

Neil Boyd, criminologist. “It’s far too late in the game. And it’s a pretence for the prime minister to say they’re going to have any impact. These people aren’t going to be deterred by: ‘Oh! It’s automatic now. If it’s gang-related, they’re going to call it first-degree (murder)’. It’s all first-degree violence anyway, for the most part. It’s got nothing to do with protecting the public. But unfortunately politicians survive on short-term three- to four-year time frames and it seems they’re doing something. They’re catering to public anger.”



  1. The truth of the matter is, when PM Stephen Harper starts a sentence with, “The truth of the matter is…”, a red flag goes up.

    • Yeah, that sure is his tell for when he’s lying.

    • Also, when he says something like “let me be frank”, usually means he’s being duplicitous.

      • Even better is his penchant for “Soyons francs.”

    • Why does he do that? Start a start his remarks with a lie, kinda makes the rest of his comment superfluous really!

  2. The Harperites: Soft on common sense.

  3. I bet you all those ‘experts’ drink latte’s and attend fancy galas.

    • galas and they prob like ‘art’ too…

      • And filthy-dirty Canadian films.

        And Canadian public TV.

  4. “The truth of the matter is, those who say that tougher penalties on perpetrators will not work don’t want them to work”

    Depends on what Harper, and the others, mean by ‘work’. Taking criminals off the streets and putting them in jail ‘works’ in that the stop committing crimes because they are in jail. There is no magic solution to stop people from committing crimes in the first place and I am tired of reading stores like the one I did the other day about Francis Pitia, a disabled man who was attacked by a bunch of thugs. There were two ring leaders of the gang, one had 25 previous convictions and the other had 40 previous convictions, but there they are out and about beating up a guy with polio. And these so-called ‘experts’ need to give their heads a shake if they think having criminals with dozens of previous convictions on the street is better than putting them in jail.

    • I think what the experts are suggesting is that tougher sentences do not reduce crime rates.

      Others might suggest lower income people, single-parent family members, conservative party members and those without the means to achieve higher education (from trades to degrees) are also at an increased risk of commiting crime.

      Some might even be as foolish as to say curing a problem is better than treating it’s symptoms. Our government is taking an approach big pharma loves: treat the symptoms so we can treat them again tomorrow. And the next. And the day after that…

      The government is doing nothing to address the root causes of crime in Canada. The government is doing nothing to address the demand for drugs, only the supply.

      They are policies that can only fail, but do make nice sound bytes. If you aren’t paying much attention and have no desire to be informed.

      • “I think what the experts are suggesting is that tougher sentences do not reduce crime rates.”

        Than the ‘experts’ are idiots. We are not all equally likely to commit crimes so the more criminals you put in jail the fewer crimes committed. Very simple indeed.

        I think these ‘experts’ want to live in a utopia where crime doesn’t happen at all, which would be nice, but not very realistic. I read a lot of nonsense about the root causes of crime, punishments don’t matter .. etc. It’s all a load of bollocks to keep themselves in employment.

        That quote from Ross Hastings is too much and indicative of the woolly thinking that now exists in the justice system. Hastings seems to be suggesting that there would be no difference in behaviour if there was a $5 fine for speeding or 1 year in jail. Punishment doesn’t matter according to Hastings, I would be as likely to slow down either way because I am afraid to be caught and that’s tosh.

        • Certainly some specific crimes, as the one you cited, could have been prevented IF the culprits had been behind bars, curtailed in their activities etc. However, as Harper is on a ‘gang crime’ and ‘drug crime’ platform binge here, he certainly should be familiar with the capitalist system. While you may stem the supply/source with some jail time, there is always some other entrepreneur willing to fill the void. Besides that, there are lawyers who’ll now be advising their cash-only clients to carry lipstick or something else of a personal item to mark the scene of a crime so that it may look non-gang related. Well, then again you’d need to catch the perp… and these crimes typically are unsolved and usually only resolved when another gangster offs the offender on their own terms.
          But let’s not get in the way of a good ‘anger up the blood’ issue for the CONs… by the way, where are those policemen they promised back in 2006? Certainly they should be here now.

    • Mr. Pitia’s story is indeed a sad one, but it actually illustrates the point that jail time did nothing to prevent these two criminals from re-offending.

      Yes, if these two assholes would have still been in jail then Mr. Pitia wouldn’t be a victim. But to focus on his story is to not see the forest for the trees.

      We must consider the bigger question: what are effective measures to deter crime? The answer to that question doesn’t seem to be “more jail time”..

      • Well maybe they shouldn’t have a chance to re-offending.
        SH yr Pm [ for now]
        This pretty well encapsulates my pt below. Or am i missing something?

      • I don’t think it is possible to really deter crime. Human beings are hard wired to be violent and unless there is some miracle drug that can stop people from being violent focusing on ‘root causes’ is a complete waste of time.

        And Mr Pitia’s story is not a one off occurrence. There is Kerrianne Parks, Andy and Nettie Miller, Saramma Varughese and Susan John, Hardupinder Gill, Rick and Leslie Kelly … and I could go on and on listing people who were murdered by violent criminals who have previous records but aren’t in jail.

        • I don’t think that’s true. For example, you or I don’t steal gum from convenience stores because we know it’s morally wrong, not because we’re hard wired to not steal candy. So the morals we’re taught help deter crime. Certainly, the threat of jail does deter some people from criminal acts as well.

          Criminals of any stripe have reasons for committing crimes, even if they’re not particularly good reasons. They end up doing the same calculus as you or I do when we encounter a pack of gum, but some reason their math adds up to stealing the gum.

          Particularly in the case of gang violence, it’s simplistic and inaccurate to label gang members as incurably violent barbarians. People are attracted to gangs for many reasons, including peer pressure, poverty, and drugs. Gangs don’t exist in a bubble; cleaning up drug addicts hurts gang profits, for example, and gangs only exist because they’re profitable (read “Freakonomics” for an interesting discussion on why gangs are like McDonalds).

          It’s tragic all the victims of violent criminals you’ve listed, and I don’t want you to think I’m dismissing them as statistics or anomolies.

          But violent crime doesn’t happen for no reason. The root causes you dismiss are, tautologically, the reason for the crime. Eliminate the root causes, and you eliminate the crime.

  5. I prefer the term real consequences rather than tougher sentencing and JW is right this has nothing to do with with prevention but achieving 2 things first : protecting society which must be the primary repsonsibility of any gov’t though you would be hard pressed by our history to tell if the other parties ever thought it was since the Liberal mindset took hold second : real consequences you do the crime and bang no more sitting around the bar bragging to your friends how your lawyer delayed and delayed your trial and now you get 2 days off per day of the sentence and what with parole and all you wil be out of prison before you even go. No more house arrest for violent crimes – this is quite simply absurd! You assault an officer and bang consequences no more getting a slap on the wrist and an apology from the officer. The recent law and order agenda is a giant breath of fresh air from Ottawa and I am very appreciative that the oppostion parties seem to have found religion. If Iggy keeps up getting more and more conservative maybe he will consider crossing the floor. Another thing these so called experts you see in the media .. I have a very good friend who is another one of these however he can never seem to get an interview in the media .. although what may be contributing to this is that he is 100% behind Harper and has conducted studies that starngely enough don’t seem to line up with what you sually see on the news! I wonder why? If you ever really doubt how things are listen to the police .and victims. GASP! .. what did I just say actullly consider discussing this with the people that do the actual work oh my god that would be .. well .. responsible.

  6. Obviously we should all be better informed on this subject. So i”ll ask, as a lib myself, the question that most comes up for cons and a lot of regular folks. Why does it appear that so many criminals seem to have a long history of repeat offending? It’s only in this context i can understand Harper’s statement – otherwise it’s yet more pandering demagoguery from him.
    Are these repeat offenders committing much of the crime? [ part. serious stuff ] When my van was stolen the police told me that they knew who it was but couldn’t prove it, implying that much of this sort of crime is committed by a small grp of individuals. – not exactly the story here, but this sort of story or the perception of the revolving door syndrome is what Harper is, i assume, driving at, and provides him with much of his support.
    I get the logic of the arguement against longer sentences not being a deterrent in the US, as by this logic they should have gotten all of the crminals off of the streets by now. Notwithstanding all the new generations of new criminals that are presumably just adding to theproblem.

    • yes .. except the last part. The revolving door issue is what this is about!

  7. And so where does all the money for new prisons and trained unionized guards come from?

    I guess that’s the infrastructure we’re going to fund — bigger jails for everyone!

    • I hope so!

  8. Again, just as the CON’s mysterious hypnotic mish-mash reputation as ‘wise fiscal managers’ seems to thrive despite evidence, so too does their reputation as ‘crime-busters’… Exactly who’s been PM for the past 3 years? And when did he promise more police for our streets (oh, just over 3 years ago)… and when is the estimated delivery point on said promise? Kinda like their wait-times ballyhoo.
    They are just as bad as the parties they accuse of being soft on crime… All of a sudden, after a couple of years of countless of gang murders (unsolved and no charges yet, either, thus making their proposal on automatic first-degree sentences almost moot) in our big city centres, here’s Harper talking tough. People nod and agree, because who thinks a 30x criminal should get lighter sentences after his next offence? But actually tackling the problem, as opposed to knee-jerk photo ops that look good in print, like spending money for more policing, dealing with inner city poverty and more drug treatment programs, that’s passe. I guess in their point of view, it always comes down to, ‘What would Charles Bronson do?’

    • He does seem to have provided a bit of funding for tazers, essential really, for the fight against people who just wont do what our police forces want them to!

      • I’d rather get tasered than beaten with a billy club. One way or another you better believe that you are going to have to do what the police want you to. Whether intoxicated, mentally ill, or merely resistant, the police have the power to enforce compliance.

        I do think police should treat tasers as a weapon, and have guidelines for their use, but I don’t think people who are calling for an outright ban really think about the alternatives needed.

        • Right. Yet as a young woman what are the chances that they would beat me with a billy club if I were drunk and belligerent? What are the chances they’d tazer me in the same situation?

          Ill take the chance of a billy club any day. Its a hell of a lot less likely to be misused.

          Id like to see This government put more money into RCMP training, and funding more officers rather than funding ways for them to do less police work through fancy new toys. A stronger police presence on the streets This would also be a huge step in reducing violence.

  9. If tougher sentences deter criminals, than obviously to get rid of gun violence, all we need to do is apply draconian sentences to owning a gun, yes?

    kc: Reoffenders are a problem, yes. But unless you’re planning on locking them up and throwing away the key, they always will be. At best what longer sentences will do is give a small break between when the new legislation is imposed and when the first of the longer sentences run out. After that, the rate of crime resumes.. and probably worse. Remember that jail is essentially just a bad-guy school at the moment. We do practically nothing to ensure anybody getting out of jail has a marketable skill or any kind of connection to society. Is it any wonder then, that they reoffend? All they know is jail and that rather violent world. Longer sentences will only further dim their memory of what real society is, and make jail a more comfortable place for them. And how do they get back in? More crime.

    Instead of longer sentences, how about additional conditions to sentence. ie, you get sent to federal prison? You don’t get out until you have your G.E.D.. period. For the last bit of a sentence, start transitioning them into full society — put them in job hunting schools, make sure they have a couple of interviews lined up for when they get out, and a ride there. Have a couple of half-way houses where they can crash if they need to for a couple of days — one that helps them find their own place to live.

    In short, despite jwl’s scoffing, address the root cause of them basically not seeing any other option with their lives.

    Will it eliminate reoffenders? Of course not. But if it reduces them while keeping jail times lower, then we as a society get more productive members instead of additional dead weight we all have to pay for.

    • I am skeptical that criminals spending time in jail can be reformed due to history. I think you will find that Anglo countries, at least, have been trying to reform criminals since the mid-1700’s when they started to build Penitentiaries (from the word Penance). Penitentiaries were built because people believed the body/mind of criminals could be turned into something positive through rehabilitation but I think you will find in all that time not one program has achieved wide spread success in achieving that goal.

      I agree some programs achieve a modicum of success but, by and large, the best way to reform criminals is time. As criminals get older, they tend to give up their life of crime and do something else.

      What really irritates me is all this focus on criminals while little attention is paid to victims and their families/friends. Putting criminals in jail stops them from committing more crime and provides some sense of justice to victims and their families. It is not much but it’s better than what we’ve got now where everyone thinks jails don’t work, so criminals don’t go to jail and they are free to continue committing more crime and cause more misery.

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