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.”

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