Government party policies on Justice and Law for 2011 Election.

The 2011 Canadian election is quickly approaching with the race turning into a closer contest day by day.  Keeping in line with the theme of this blog, I thought it would make sense to post the head note and link to each party’s policy on legal issues surrounding crime and justice.  I should add it is also interesting to note how each party titles the issue on each of their websites.

Liberal Party of Canada: “Justice and Public Safety”:

The Liberal Party has a strong record on reducing crime. We believe in tough sentences for serious crimes. But unlike the Conservatives, Liberals don’t think the solution is to spend billions on US-style mega-prisons that will only produce more hardened criminals.  Meanwhile, the Conservatives have cut funding for crime prevention and victims programs and broken their promise to hire 2500 more police officers.

The New Democratic PartyNot listed in “Platform”

Oddly, there is nothing listed in the NDP platform about this issue.  If I come across it, or if someone from the NDP let’s me know, I will be sure to update immediately.  I do believe that they still support the legalization of marijuana, so that’s something relevant I guess.

Conservative Party of Canada: “PM highlights important legislation on becoming law”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today highlighted new pieces of legislation, which became law.
“Our Government is committed to supporting families and communities,” said the Prime Minister. “Over the past five years, our Government has taken action to make our streets and communities safer and to protect Canadian consumers. We have taken the right action and we have delivered.” 

And what would a blog be without an opinion, so here it is:

government policies charter rights canadaKeep in mind when voting this year that law and justice is not simply about punishing every offender as harshly as possible and criminalizing immoral, as opposed to harmful activity – i.e. marijuana use, prostitution, etc.  It is very easy to implement policies that are “tough on crime” (whatever that means) but is quite difficult to be just, proportionate, and cognizant of what is best for society’s long-term benefit.

It is the difference between a parent who lashes out harshly to a child who has done wrong assuming that their punishment will “set them straight”, and a parent who understands that there is nothing wrong with punishing wrong doings, but with an intent to learn right from wrong on their own volition.   Fear of punishment alone will never stop crime; opportunity, strong morality, and optimism for the future will.

The societal benefits in spending billions of dollars on jails pales in comparison to the benefits derived from spending that money on things like jobs, programs, and most importantly child care: almost every person who comes before the criminal courts is the product of a neglected childhood.  For example, with the benefit of a national child care plan, those parents could be at home teaching their children right from wrong, instead of working to pay for the prisons they may end up in because of neglect.

Providing full due process, meaningful and discretionary sentencing by well trained jurists, and the means for a person to reintegrate into society is not being soft on crime, its being smart.   No matter how “tough” one may get on crime, it will never quell irrational fears; however, the smarter we get on crime, the less we have to rationally fear.