Who pays the bill?


Matching Quebec’s demand, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says the Harper government should pick up the tab for its crime legislation. Peter Russell considers the possibilities.

More likely, added Russell, provinces objecting to the cost or content of the legislation will ignore certain aspects of it — trafficking or possession of small amounts of marijuana, for example. “They will say to police who are out looking, ‘If you get a call give it a low priority’,” he said. “I don’t think they would actually say, ‘We’re not going to enforce the law.’ They would say to the provincial police, ‘Give people who grow pot a low priority’. They can certainly do that. You just don’t put the resources into it. It’s a matter of discretion.”

Politically, Canada is headed into a situation where the provinces are shaping up as the official opposition, added Russell. “They are taking over that role,” he said, “and have a constitutional right to do so.”


Who pays the bill?

  1. This seems right to me.

    Why would nearly bankrupt provinces with lower and lower crime rates want to put MORE money into prisons and police to support laws that don’t really apply to their situation?

    I would expect in fact that jurisdictions with high crime should be the ones looking at changing their provincial policies and practices in that regard, or even maybe looking at the local level in terms of some cities like Winnipeg and Edmonton.

    Painting everyone with the same brush is ridiculous in an environment where this money is needed for much more important issues.

    In case anyone hasn’t noticed, we’re in a world wide recession at the moment!

    • Slow and Steady! Firm hand on the tiller! Mandate!

      • I wish Harper would go and have a man date.

  2. Taxpayers pay the bills, not Toronto, Que City or Ottawa. 

    Toots And Maytals ~ 54 46 was my number:

    Stick it up, mister!
    Hear what I say, sir, yeah
    Get your hands in the air, sir!
    And you will get no hurt, mister, no no no … 


    • Yes, and the majority of taxpayers in this country live in Ontario and Quebec where crime is relatively low. So what’s your point again?

      The fact is that the high crime rates we’re seeing in certain areas can be traced more to social policy than anything else.

      Winnipeg for example is awash in first nations youth for which there has been no attempts to mitigate potential problems. If anything, a highly adversarial situation has developed between them and the province.

      Anyone here think that leaving a young, uneducated and impoverished minority to their own devices is good idea?

      Expecting good outcomes from that are you?

      Going to solve it with jails are you?

      We need a new definition for stupidity. The current one is clearly leaving out too many people.


      • “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

        I agree that we need new definition for stupidity but I bet we disagree who’s photo will be appearing in dictionary’s next edition. 

        Why Canadian Crime Statistics Don’t Add Up:

        ” A plain reading of the Juristat report, however, shows that many of the most 
        common conclusions that are drawn about crime in Canada are in fact incorrect or badly distorted. These problems, moreover, are deeply linked with the flawed ways in which Statistics Canada both collects and interprets the data on crime in Canada.”


  3. I’m starting to seriously wonder why we pay provincial taxes at all. When provincial governments can afford to implement all kinds of feel-good social programs that are unnecessary, but can’t afford to pay for their actual responsibilities, I think things have gotten a wee bit off track. McGuinty can afford to cut tuition to win an election, but funding the justice system is impossible. I’m calling B.S.

    • Actually, I think you’ll find that he has no problem funding the justice system. It’s funding a busted system he can’t find the money for.

    • Odd, I was seriously wondering why we pay federal taxes at all.

      They’re the ones foisting the bills on us for programs we don’t want.

      We want health and education…provincial matters…we don’t want fighterplanes and a draconian prison system.

    • So the provincial governments should have to shelve their priorities to pay for those of the Federal government? A federal government which, I might add, promised these things to win an election – but only after cutting Federal revenues by $5 billion after promising to do so in order to win an election.)

      Or do you mean to say that post-secondary students should be the ones bearing the cost of Harper’s crime agenda?

      Truth is we have a Federal government that (constantly) claims to be focussed on the economy implementing a unecessary and misguided policy to address a made up social problem at a massive price. Then, on top of it all, downloading the costs to other levels of government so they can keep crowing about their (demonstrably unjustified) credentials as economic managers.

      If you’re smelling B.S., that’s the source.

    • If the federal government wants to put some kid who grows a single marijuana plant in his rented apartment and then shares a joint with his roommate in jail for nine months then the federal government should pay the cost of investigating that “crime”, prosecuting the kid, and housing and feeding him for nine months.

      It’s not McGuinty’s fault that we have a crazy system in which the feds rack up the bills and the provinces are expected to pay them.

  4. Doesn’t this play into Harper’s agenda of wanting to diminish the power of the federal government and strengthen provincial power?
    I can here him saying, “obviously the federal government should consult widely with the provinces before implementing any federal legislation which will infringe on provincial jurisdiction, prerogatives, or finances.”

    • I wonder if even he is beginning to realize that sword cuts both ways.

      Is there any chance we might see the notwithstanding card played somewhere down the line in this poker game?

    • I think it plays into his strategy of bankrupting his ideological enemies.

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