'Your personal experiences and impressions are wrong'

Stephen Harper, June 6, 2008Ladies and gentlemen, I try to get off of Parliament Hill as often as possible to attend functions like this. It helps me to keep in touch with the issues that really matter to Canadians, and one issue I hear about time and time again, whether it’s among Canadians old or young, whether it’s in the East or West, in English or in French, is unacceptably high levels of crime. Everywhere I go I hear the same refrain: “Prime Minister, please crack down on criminals, get guns, gangs and drugs off our streets, stop behaviour that threatens our property and our persons, make our communities safer.” It’s a reasonable thing to ask of government. It’s one of the most fundamental reasons, maybe the most fundamental reason, the government exists, especially in Canada, a country that was founded on the principle of peace, order and good government … It’s one thing that they, the criminals do not get it, but if you don’t mind me saying, another part of the problem for the past generation has been those, also a small part of our society, who are not criminals themselves, but who are always making excuses for them, and when they aren’t making excuses, they are denying that crime is even a problem: the ivory tower experts, the tut-tutting commentators, the out-of-touch politicians. “Your personal experiences and impressions are wrong,” they say. “Crime is not really a problem.” I don’t know how you say that. I don’t know how you tell that to the families of the victims we saw on the screen today. These men, women and children are not statistics. They had families, friends, hopes and dreams, until their lives were taken from them … Obviously we cannot undo these travesties, nor can we erase the pain and suffering that they cause. But there is something we can do and that we must do, and that is to get serious about tackling crime in this country … What we’re doing, ladies and gentlemen, is starting to overhaul a system that’s been in place. In fact, we’re starting to overhaul a system that has been moving in the wrong direction for 30 years.

Statistics Canada, todayPolice-reported crime in Canada continued to decline in 2008. Both the traditional crime rate and the new Crime Severity Index fell 5%, meaning that both the volume of police-reported crime and its severity decreased. Violent crime also dropped, but to a lesser extent. This was the fifth consecutive annual decline in police-reported crime.