‘This is not a theoretical problem’

by Aaron Wherry

After meeting with Rob Ford, Stephen Harper challenges the courts.

Reporter: Just changing the topic slightly, a lot of discussion in recent days about the most recent Toronto gun shootings, coming … Sorry. Most of the guns involved in the recent Toronto shootings come from the US. Border … the union representing border officials are saying that government cuts will make it harder to stop illegal guns from entering the country. How would you respond to that?

Stephen Harper: In fact, quite the opposite is the case. This government, through particularly our Beyond the Border action plan with the United States is literally investing hundreds of millions of additional dollars in security along our border. It is one of three principal things that we are doing as a government to try and deal with crime, and in particular, gun crime. One is of course much tougher penalties for gun offences. As you know, we’ve passed a number of things through the federal Parliament. Some of those things are before the courts. Some courts have been attempting to strike down some of the tough sentences we’ve imposed. I think these events in Toronto underscore why these penalties are essential, why it is essential to have tough and certain penalties for gun crime. I’m pleased that all three levels of government have supported those kinds of initiatives, and I certainly call on the courts to take these penalties seriously. This is not a theoretical problem. That’s one of the things we’re doing. Also, of course, on the enforcement side, we’ve got a bill before Parliament right now, C-43, to make it easier to deport those who, non-citizens who involve themselves in criminal activity in this country. I also mentioned, of course, that we do have increasingly integrated law enforcement programs with the United States to try and deal with the gun problem. As you know, most of the illegal guns that are used here do come from south of the border, and that is a number one priority of our cross-border initiative with American authorities. The third thing we’re doing, of course, is we also do invest in young people and in communities, and in programs that will try and encourage alternatives to gun and to gang activity.

Here again is Colby Cosh’s look at the details of the two cases in which judges have declined to follow the mandatory minimum. And here is John Geddes’ look at gun and weapon smuggling.

Below is Mr. Harper’s response when asked specifically about his meeting with the Toronto mayor.

Well, we obviously discussed the recent events and our continued and I think joint determination, and one shared by the province, to tackle gun crime directly. And I certainly encouraged the city and the province to continue to work together. We have been working together on enforcement measures. We’ve also been working together at trying to make sure we can make some of these new gun penalties stick before the courts. So we discussed a range of enforcement measures, a range also of the criminal justice measures that are before Parliament, and the necessity of making those stick. I made some specific suggestions to the mayor as he did to me, and we’re both going to look into some additional measures we can also take.




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‘This is not a theoretical problem’

  1. Mandatory minimums are straight out of the Republican playbook. Given the US homicide rate is 3 to 8 times the rest of the developed world, this ideological approach to crime is obviously not working. Using the latest in evidence-based policies to rehabilitate offenders so they are integrated into society and stop committing crimes is clearly the superior way to go and solely responsible for a decades-long decline in the crime rate.

    What’s worse is that according to Budget Officer Kevin Page, this American war on drugs and crime Harper is bringing to Canada will double the cost of the prison system — a $5B/yr increase. That’s about what the Conservatives are gutting from spending during this year’s budget. This wanton disregard for taxpayer dollars is criminal.

    • “Using the latest in evidence-based policies to rehabilitate offenders so they are integrated into society and stop committing crimes is clearly the superior way to go and solely responsible for a decades-long decline in the crime rate. ”
      Solely responsible? Gimme a break. I don’t disagree with the rest of your post, but one of the primary reasons for the drop in our crime rates for the last 3 decades has been the aging of our population. Fewer young males as a percentage of the population = less crime.

    • Really? Cutting government spending is now a “wanton disregard to taxpayers dollars”? On what planet? And CRIMINAL no less! When the Chretien Liberals were looting the treasury to steal elections in Quebec, that was just a minor misunderstanding. But cutting government spending, TOTALLY CRIMINAL.

      Maybe try toning down the overheated rhetoric if you want to be taken seriously.

  2. If Mr Harper doesn’t settle himself down and fast, he’s going to discover there’s a lot of other things about this country that aren’t theoretical either.

  3. I wonder if Stephen Harper’s “specific suggestion” to Rob Ford was “Don’t ever call me again” ?

  4. Clear and concise answers from PM Harper—pretty hard to argue with his logic.
    Those courts looking for softer sentences for violent criminals better direct their arguments for this leniency towards victims and those that are concerned about victims of crime.

    • You’ve got to admit though, a mandatory minimum three year jail sentence for offering to sell a gun that DIDN’T EXIST is kinda crazy. I’m all for cracking down on people who sell illegal guns. I’m even for cracking down on people who OFFER to sell others illegal guns. I don’t think it’s setting the bar too high though to insist that there actually needs to be a gun somewhere first.

      • heck, you could even water it down to had a reasonable chance of getting a gun and it could still conceivably be reasonable.

        Picture the silliest most absurd way a crime could actually occur and there’s a chance someday it will happen, and that’s why mandatory minimums have problems. the only silver lining is that when they fail they often do so in a way that undermines the constitution and the worst effects can be ameliorated.

        None of which has anything to do with the recent shootings in toronto of course. And the PM knows it (or hopefully he does,I shudder to think he’s NOT grandstanding).

    • Is there any evidence, at all, that courts are looking for softer sentences for criminals that are actually violent?

      Because, personally, I think you’re full of crap.

      • Personally. I think little lefties like yourself always revert to name-calling when they know the logic put forth by Harper is embraced by most Canadians.

        • “logic put forth by Harper”

          That’s the gaping hole in your argument right there. Harper isn’t concerned with logic – just votes. He’ll play to the lowest common denominator every time.

        • Except nobody called you a name. I said I think you’re full of crap. It’s a perfectly valid observation to make, and I’m perfectly willing to have you refute it by answering the question you avoided.

  5. Huh. Rob Ford wasn’t going to take any of that BS from McGuinty. He said so. I wonder why he’s willing to take it from Harper?

    • Harper helped pay for his campaign!

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