Harper crime bill much-needed

Re. The letter written by Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer with the heading Crime bill a wrong-headed waste in the Nov. 30, 2011, issue of The Advocate.

Re. The letter written by Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer with the heading Crime bill a wrong-headed waste in the Nov. 30, 2011, issue of The Advocate.

Thank God she noticed the Harper government’s ‘draconian omnibus’ bill (more properly known as Safer Streets and Communities Act) had something good in it. She is right in that it is very important to protect children and look after victims of terrorism. There is also no room in our society for drug gangs.

Alas, as I understand, there is much more in the bill that she didn’t mention. There will be heavier sentences for mass murders that may permanently remove them from the streets with no chance of parole hearings to continue to pain the victims. There will be more severe sentences for those producing and distributing drugs to the children, which is destroying their lives. (You don’t need a gang to be doing this.) There will be more of a realistic sentence for teenagers who are violent or repeat offenders.

Bill C10 proposes:

l Mandatory minimums: a range of drug, sex, violent and other serious offences will now have longer stipulated jail sentences, leading to questions about dramatic increases in the costs of incarceration for both federal and provincial prisons.

l Tougher penalties for drug offences, including a potential doubling of sentences for the production of drugs such as marijuana, to target the role of organized crime in the production and possession of illicit drugs and crack down on marijuana grow-ops.

l Tougher penalties for sexual offences against children, and the creation of two new offences related to the planning or enabling of sex assaults against children.

l An end to house arrest (conditional sentences) for a large range of new offences.

• Elimination or delay in eligibility for pardons for serious crimes, as well as higher fees to apply for pardons.

l Stiffer sentences for violent and repeat young offenders for serious crimes, to protect the public from out of control young offenders.

l More rights for victims of crime to participate in parole decisions; more powers to penalize offenders for bad behaviour against corrections officers or fellow inmates while in detention; and new powers for the police when parole conditions are broken.

l New criteria for the transfer of Canadians convicted and imprisoned in a foreign country to serve out sentences in Canada.

l New power for victims of terrorist acts to sue individuals, groups or foreign states believed to be responsible.

l Powers to deny work permits for foreign workers at risk of human trafficking or humiliating and degrading treatment, including exotic dancers and low-skilled workers.

What is there that she has problems with in this bill?

She mentions that the jails are full, however crime has been on the decline. How can that be? Is it possible that longer sentences are creating crowded jails and, with these criminals off the street, crime is on the decline? Perhaps she has another answer.

The Chretien Liberal government left the military with useless jeeps to fight a war in Afghanistan and they never built a jail through their entire term although the population has been steadily climbing. The Chretien Liberal government also cancelled a new helicopter deal, which the Mulroney government had made, at the cost of many millions of dollars, and turned around and bought four very used (and useless) submarines from Britain that have been nothing but a drain on our pocket books ever since.

The draconian Harper government has been playing catch-up ever since taking over the Chretien foul-ups and, under extraordinary pressure from opposition parties, has been making the smart tough decisions. Harper gave the armed forces the best equipment possible to try to keep them safe and is in the process of securing our sovereign north. He got rid of a useless gun registry that never saved a life but cost billions. Now he is working on making our daily lives safer. Bill C10 is just one more good piece of work by his team.

Barry Riege

Red Deer

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