Canadian Provinces Won't Pay For the Conservatives' Omnibus Crime Bill

In the last few days a group of provinces have taken a powerful stand against the Conservatives’ cruel Crime Bill.

Quebec and Ontario have said that they will not pay the huge costs for a federally imposed fill-the-prisons approach to justice that has failed everywhere it has been tried.1 Many other provinces are pushing back, publicly and privately, against policies that will cost us dearly while creating a revolving door for prisoners.2

From prosecutors to prisons, our provinces and territories are responsible for paying for most of our criminal justice system. If the provinces work together and refuse to pay for the Crime Bill’s costly and ineffective measures, then the federal government will have to go back to the drawing board and negotiate a better way forward.

This is a crucial moment. If BC steps up, then it will join Ontario and Quebec to represent a super-majority of the Canadian population. Christy Clark has offered weak support for the Bill, and we need a massive outcry right now to show her British Columbians don't want to pay more money for less safety.

Click here to tell BC’s premier, Christy Clark, to refuse to pay for the cruel Crime Bill, and support a Citizen’s Assembly for Canadian Justice: www.leadnow.ca/keep-bc-safe

Opposition to this bill is growing across the political spectrum. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Justice Minister, a Conservative named Felix Collins just spoke out and called the Crime Bill a “costly gaffe” that would “undermine democracy.”3

Collins said that "most groups, most experts and most witnesses who have given presentations on this bill would advocate that the federal government is proceeding in the wrong direction, and that this procedure has been tried in other areas before and has proven to be a failure."3

Collins is right about the experts. Take the Canadian Bar Association, which represents 37,000 legal professionals. They strongly criticized the Bill for its "punitive approach to criminal behaviour, rather than a focus on how to prevent that behaviour in the first place, or rehabilitate those who offend."3

And then there’s tough-on-crime Texas. In 2004 Texas had the highest incarceration rate in the world. In 2005 they had a budget crisis. That’s when Texas got serious, and discovered that crime prevention, through drug treatment programs and a host of other proven solutions, is cheaper and more effective than mandatory sentences and other fill-the-prisons policies.4

Texas has learned something that Canadians have known for a long time: it is better to help people be a part of society than it is to pay to force them out.

We need a united provincial alliance. Send a message to your Premier and Justice Minister now to make Canada safer, not meaner.

- Article originally from LeadNow.ca.


References:

  1. Provinces wont foot bill for crime legislation, McGuinty warns PM:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/provinces-wont-foot-bill-for-crime-legislation-mcguinty-warns-pm/article2222867/
  2. Quebec Justice Minister Jean Marc Fournier says province wont pay costs of new federal crime bill:
    http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20111101/quebec-justice-minister-jean-marc-fournier-says-province-wont-pay-costs-of-new-federal-crime-bill-111101/
  3. N.L. joins Ontario, Quebec in criticism of crime bill:
    http://m.ctv.ca/topstories/20111102/newfoundland-feds-crime-bill-111102.html
  4. Texas conservatives reject Harper's crime plan - 'Been there; done that; didn't work,' say Texas crime-fighters (CBC):
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/10/17/pol-vp-milewski-texas-crime.html
  5. Critics of omnibus bill ‘advocate for criminals,’ Conservatives charge (Globe and Mail):
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/critics-of-omnibus-bill-advocate-for-criminals-conservatives-charge/article2205213/
  6. Study: Prevention Fights Crime Better Than Jail (Seattle Times):
    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19960620&slug=2335526
  7. Tough on crime will likely lead to more crime, bigger deficit (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives):
    http://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/tough-crime-will-likely-lead-more-crime-bigger-deficit-report
  8. Crime rates fall to lowest level since 1973
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/07/21/crime-rates.html
  9. Open letter to the Government opposing mandatory sentences from over 550 Canadian experts and public health professionals (Urban Health Research Initiative):
    http://uhri.cfenet.ubc.ca/content/view/90
  10. A Meaner Canada : Junk Politics and the Omnibus Crime Bill (Alex Himelfarb)
    http://afhimelfarb.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/a-meaner-canada-junk-politics-and-the-omnibus-crime-bill/
  11. What’s Wrong With Harper’s Omnibus Crime Bill (Behind the Numbers)
    http://www.behindthenumbers.ca/2011/09/20/whats-wrong-with-harpers-omnibus-crime-bill/
  12. Rough Justice in America: Too many laws, too many prisoners - Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little (The Economist):
    http://www.economist.com/node/16636027
  13. Salvaging a faulty crime bill (Irvin Waller)
    http://www.themarknews.com/articles/6942-salvaging-a-faulty-crime-bill
  14. Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship, (The Sentencing Project)
    http://www.sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/inc_iandc_complex.pdf
  15. For the full text of the bill, see the Parliament of Canada website:
    http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&billId=5120829

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