It’s the Punishment Stupid

Yesterday Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino admonished Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for not supporting mandatory minimum sentences. “Shameful” MacKay thundered. A recipe for decreasing community safety chimed in Fantino. All in a day’s work for this crime fighting duo.


The Harper government would have you believe that Trudeau and the courts coddle criminals. Joining them are liberals, socialists and criminal defence lawyers who are soft on crime and don’t know what it takes to keep our streets safe. These groups wrap themselves in fancy legal technicalities and are just a bunch of bleeding hearts that worship at the altar of Charter rights.

More troubling though is this government’s fundamental belief that anyone convicted of a crime should be punished as harshly as possible, no matter what the circumstances of the offender or the offence.  Consider this: Over the past twenty years Canada’s crime rate has fallen. So what is the reason for enacting legislation to impose mandatory victim fine surcharges on penniless homeless people?

When you see the Charter of Rights as an annoyance; when you imply that people who are found not guilty are just gaming the system; when you say that if you don’t agree that people who commit crimes should serve mandatory minimum sentences that you’re a hug-a-thugger than you really have no interest in establishing an evidence based criminal justice system and all you care about is punishment  – the harsher the better.

Characterizing the criminal justice system as going easy on criminals is wrong. To suggest that being sentenced is an inconvenience to your life and will have no lasting impact is ludicrous. Why doesn’t the justice minister ask the many wrongfully convicted people in Canada who were locked up in cages how easy their experience was?

This government has no time for the courts and those who differ with their approach to criminal justice. Sadly, it’s difficult to conceive of a member of the Harper government proposing anything like a Bill of Rights that former criminal defence lawyer turned Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker did in 1960. Times sure have changed.


Leave a Reply