Opinion » Maxed Out

Into the past darkly



Bad Stevie, bad. Where's that rolled up newspaper? Oops, careful; might be mistaken for a big joint and land me in jail.

In yet another bold step backwards in time, Canada's new Know Nothing party, ignoring three-plus decades of social science, direct observation, common sense and experience, have set this country down the failed road of America's prison society. Feel the pride, Canada.

Being unable to find anything meaningful to accomplish, or perhaps simply being mean and stupid by nature, Stevie Harpo's Cons have fired their long-promised salvo in the War on Imaginary Crime. Using their majority-in-name-only, the Conservative Party passed Canada's new omnibus crime bill, Bill C-10, or, as the spin cycle of the Joseph Goebbels Memorial Ministry of Propaganda likes to call it, the Safe Streets and Communities Act. Cue the puppies and kittens.

Bill C-10 is a piece of legislation so good, so efficient, so deft at defying the laws of space and time that it's already made Canada's streets some of the safest in the world. Safer now than they were, well, long before this act was ever even conceived of by the nascent Reform Party way back when. But that kind of thinking is so fact-based; it has no real place in a party that muzzles its own scientists and sees foreign terrorists hiding behind every environmental cause. You see, in Know Nothing world, it's a jungle out there and the only way to tame the beasts lurking behind every bush — and in the heart of every person — is to build more prisons and sentence more and more and more people to mandatory terms behind their bars.

In the Conservative world view, people are bad; business is good, environmental activism is bad; short-term profit is very good. Far better to be seen as tough on crime, by people who don't seem to have the capacity or inclination to actually think very hard about complex problems, than to really do something that might reduce what crime there is out there... as opposed to the imaginary stuff.

So instead of launching an initiative that might make Canadians proud of their country — for example, building an education system that grapples with a shameful dropout rate and fails to prepare people for jobs that go begging, doing something other than paying lip service to health care wait times, rebuilding sagging infrastructure or doing any of the things known to actually reduce crime — the Cons are going to put people in prison. New prisons. Lots of new prisons with lots of good prison guard jobs.

Why? You're guess is as good as mine. There is plenty of fact-based evidence this plan won't do much to reduce real crime and will be expensive, both in terms of dollars and social costs. One doesn't even need to translate some obscure social science text from Russian or Chinese or Burmese, there's plenty of data from our misguided neighbours to the south who have been chasing this chimera for decades.

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