Tough — or dumb— on crime?

Anybody who has ever been victimized by crime remembers the effect it had — and perhaps is still having — on them.

Anybody who has ever been victimized by crime remembers the effect it had — and perhaps is still having — on them.A sense of innocence, trust or security can be lost — irretrievably in some cases.Being doubly victimized by a Canadian legal system that bends over backwards to ensure the accused gets a fair trial might create a feeling of betrayal.The Stephen Harper government is tapping into these feelings on top of the existing anti-crime element of its ideology.No politician — or editor — wants to appear soft on crime, which might explain why few political opponents criticized the Conservatives’ Safe Streets and Communities Act during Question Period.The sweeping crime legislation introduced late last month is an amalgamation of nine tough-on-crime bills the Tories were unable to enact as a minority government.The bill would harden penalties for a variety of offenders, from drug dealers to sexual predators to “out-of-control young people” in the words of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. Tory supporters will eat it up, and it appeals to any law-abiding Canadian who is weary of reading about Vancouver’s lawless hockey rioters or justice not delivered in court.Emboldened by their long-anticipated majority in the House of Commons, however, the Conservatives go too far in some spots as they try to take back Canada from soft-on-crime judges and Liberals.For example, Bill C-10 imposes longer sentences for drug traffickers and organized crime while mandating a six-month jail term on anyone who grows six marijuana plants. Someone growing 201 pot plants in a rental unit would receive a longer mandatory sentence than someone who sexually assaults a toddler.The crime rate in Canada continues its 20-year decline at the same time our courts are backlogged and our prisons filling.With their tougher minimum sentences, Harper and Co. are lurching toward an American model that is failing miserably.editor@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Comox Valley Record