On second thought (II) - Macleans.ca

On second thought (II)


The Hill Times discovers that Rob Nicholson was vice-chair of a Parliamentary committee that, in 1988, advised against pursuing mandatory minimums. Mr. Nicholson’s director of communications attempts to explain the distance between that report and the Justice Minister’s current rhetoric.

Geneviève Breton, Mr. Nicholson’s (Niagara Falls, Ont.) director of communications, said in an email to The Hill Times that the justice system and the drug world are different than they were 22 years ago, and therefore the government’s response has also changed …”Parliament is expected to draft and enact laws that clearly articulate the legislators’ intent, which is reflective of the values of the citizens who elected them. It is the role of the legislator to give guidance to the judiciary on maximum penalties, as well as on minimum penalties. For certain offences, our Government firmly believes that a minimum period of incarceration is justified,” Ms. Breton stated.

It is perhaps instructive to refer back to John Geddes’ attempt to understand the basis for the government’s current approach and Pierre Poilievre’s musings on the value of such policy.


On second thought (II)

  1. The "justice system and the drug world are different than they were 22 years ago", indeed. There are fewer violent crimes, fewer criminals going back to prison after a first conviction, fewer crimes generally, and our streets are generally much much safer than 22 years ago.

    What better time to say Nicholson's judgement is irrelevant and since his prior recommendations seem to be working that we don't need to follow them anymore.

  2. Quit pointing out the inconsistencies of the CONs! Now you're suggesting that Nicholson's view on prorogation in 1988 is likely different or something…

    • I suspect his expressed view was in fact quite different until 2007, in fact.

    • Or Harper's views on prorogation circa 1992-1993, for that matter.

      • Or 2003 when he was screaming at Chretien over prorogation.

  3. Geddes' piece says it all:

    “Every time we proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, sociologists, criminologists, defence lawyers and Liberals attacked us for proposing measures that the evidence apparently showed did not work,” Brodie said. “That was a good thing for us politically, in that sociologists, criminologists and defence lawyers were and are all held in lower repute than Conservative politicians by the voting public. Politically it helped us tremendously to be attacked by this coalition of university types.”


    "The popularity of any policy sold as a crackdown on crime is a given around Parliament Hill. As a result, Liberals show little interest in pushing back against the Conservatives' law-and-order agenda."

    Which is why I'm afraid we're headed toward a criminal justice system that looks good on a bumper sticker and is a disaster in the real world. This is the same process the US has gone through and parts of their system are just jaw-droppingly bad. How can we be so foolish as to repeat their mistakes through exactly the same process?

    • I share your concern, especially when that bit about "repute" that you've quoted from Brodie via Geddes is just wrong, based on every bit of voter research I've seen.

    • This is as much about pumping Fed dollars into (Conservative) western and rural ridings as it is about ideology. They'll build new prisons in CPC ridings. Peter van Loan is in deep with developers, planners and architects (it's his former profession) and they will benefit from this largesse. The private prison and penal industry has exploded in the US, and he wants to be sure Canada gets its turn at the trough.

    • There's that scary stephen harper hidden agenda. US-style blah blah blah.

  4. Serious question Aaron…I'm fine with pointing out hypocrisy as long as it is reasonable, and the current government has certainly provided ample opportunity…but is there no statute of limitations in your mind for how long a politician is expected to hold a particular belief without changing his mind?

    Do you really think it is even noteworthy that Nicholson thought one way about mandatory minimums in 1988(!) and had changed his mind…22 years later?

    • Well, the fact that all available evidence shows him that his opinion of 22 years ago was both correct and WORKED would seem to make changing it now a bit more hypocritical. It's one thing to change your mind after the evidence shows you that you were wrong, but changing your mind after the evidence shows you that you were RIGHT?

  5. I've no problem with Nicholson changing his mind after 22 years – as long as he can justify it with something a little more substantive than "well, it's different now." That's a bone with no marrow. Hollow, and it cracks under pressure.

    Times are different, *how*, Nicholson? Is this a matter of whom you're working for, or that the force of the victims' rights lobby is now stronger than the defendants' rights lobby, or based on crime statistics and understandings from inmates (etc), or that, twenty years older, you've now just plain decided to change your mind? Or something else entirely?

    • 'Times are different" is just so much easier to explain to the TH's crowd. Brodie would concur i think.

  6. What was the crime rate 22 years ago?

    What is it now?

  7. Times are different. Nicholson has more to fear and protect now than he did 22 years ago. Elite Panic.

  8. To carry on this theme Mr. Wherry will soon be posting that Bob Rae once voted NDP, Scott Brison used to hang with Tories, and Iggy was in a video firing guns with future Taliban.

    • Yeah but there isn't a bunch of statistical analysis making them look somewhat foolish.

    • … and Say Anything Steve once supported spending cuts instead of record breaking spendign, no deficits, fixed election dates, no tax increases, not taxing income trusts, restraints on the PM's ability to prorogue, increased power of the Information Commissioner, an independent Ethics Commissioner, a Budget Office that reported to Parliament, a public appointments commission, stronger and more powerful MPs and Parliamentary committees, getting rid of corporate welfare, … should I go on?

      • I see you`ve got all your talking points lined up today, troll. Just kiddin ted. But you do seem to have those complaints at the ready. I may not agree with all of them and some may be fictional but at least you argue issues and you have an excellent memory or maybe you just have a list on your desk.

        • Memory, though I should write them down to save time. And I'm sure I'm missing 5 or 10 or 25 broken promises, like his promise to vet all Supreme Court nominees in committee or to deliver a "made-in-Canada" carbon reduction plan. This site, for example, seems to have just a few more.

          None of them are fictional, though, and I don't think you can say any of them are wrong. You may be able to claim they have a justified excuse for breaking one or two of them, but I think they are all pretty clear broken promises.

          And for a media that is according to some supposed to be 100% behind the Liberals and out to bury Harper, the fact that Harper has broken more promises in the last 4 years than the last 5 PMs put together has been suprisingly ignored by the press in the last election or at any time.

          Maybe the Liberals just aren't paying them enough these days.

  9. Damn, I guess I'm just one of those University Elites that the Conservative Party hates, then.

  10. As noted up above buried in a comment response, what's interesting is that that his office is saying it is not Nicholson that changed his mind after 22 years, but that Canada has changed in 22 years.

    Which, as a statement on the pace of change in society is not only divorced from reality but is very slow change compared to the changes they seem to claim have occured in the last 6 months from when getting a national list of pedophiles was urgent and critical to 'whatever, it can wait' when Harper shut down Parliament, from youth justice being an "unmitigated failure" 6 months ago to 'whatever, it just needs some "fine tuning" ' now.

  11. Perhaps parliament will need a new standing committee to expedite all the "look like we're doing something" laws coming forward in the next session,