Whether or not the upcoming federal election is necessary, or simply redundant, pales in comparison to its importance.
A Conservative majority is, hopefully, not realistic, but the dangers of such a government are worthy of discussion.
Their get-tough-on-crime plan, along with other areas of their platform clearly show a skewed ideology that does not reflect the reality of our situation.
With the exception of one particular crime, rates have been dropping in Canada since at least the 1970s. I don’t doubt that our incarceration systems need some rehabilitation (pun intended), but the spending now, of billions of dollars on American-style super-max prisons makes no sense at all.
I think I have a better solution to offer. That one particular crime that is on the rise in Canada is the illegal importation of handguns into our country from the US, and their subsequent use in gang violence in urban centres. Quite a specific (and dreadful) crime.
It is the one crime that requires a new approach and immediate action. So I would suggest we take the billions that would otherwise be spent on the new jails, and the millions (or billions) from the gun registry (sorry, but I cannot see the registry doing one bit of good to reduce crime) and use it in two ways.
First, a specialized police force should be created to specifically fight this crime. A highly trained force, streamlined to this crime alone, would greatly reduce the flow of hand guns into our country.
The second part of the solution I offer requires a much more concerted effort. And that is to go into the areas where gangs are sprouting up, such as Jane and Finch in Toronto, and create new infrastructure – better schools, community colleges, recreation facilities and health centres, etc.. Areas within cities that are lacking or deteriorating in this infrastructure are fertile ground for the growth of new gangs.
Yes, I am talking about fighting poverty. But in this case, the target is quite specific and the task not nearly as daunting. Education and health are far greater crime-reduction tools than after-the-fact jails as they not only provide more options for young people, but the capacity to choose the right ones.
Thus the need for more jails diminishes
I don’t doubt our legal system needs improvement. Occasionally sentences seem so lenient. Other times, so crushingly long. Violent crime, to put it mildly, is a most serious personal violation and the individual rightly deserves justice. However, it is important to remember that, unless the perpetrator is going to jail for the rest of his/her life, they will be among us again someday. And jails on their own do not produce upstanding citizens. Getting to the roots of crime before it happens, and rehabilitation are the key components.
The Conservatives wish to Americanize our justice system. America, that bastion of freedom, jails more people per capita than any other country in the world, and yet their crime rates soar. Punishment has become an industry. And it does not work.
Building more jails for more people with longer sentences when crime rates are falling is the blatant promotion of a skewed ideology. The promotion of a skewed ideology, when facts consistently state otherwise, becomes fundamentalism. And fundamentalism of any kind, because of its inherent necessity to interpret facts to meet its own agenda, has no place in the governance of our country.
And lastly, I wish to appeal to the young people of our territory.
I have always been impressed when discussing with young people, their political awareness, their concern for the environment, social justice and human rights. They have passion. They give a damn. They lift my spirits.
However, I am also aware that many young people have become despondent in regards to politics. More than once I have heard expressions of outrage at what they see happening in the House of Commons – the bickering and name-calling, the outright dishonesty – and feel their vote is meaningless.
Just this morning on the news a politically active young person, speaking in regards to the low turnout of the youth vote (37 per cent) said the students she speaks to claim their concerns are never listened to. A relative observation she made of the English debate was that the only mention of young people was in regards to the above-mentioned crime.
Well, it seems the Conservatives would prefer you remained despondent and did not vote. Apparently, a Conservative strategist went into the University of Guelph and tried to physically remove a legal ballot box, set up for an early vote. Fortunately, he was stopped by the students. Obviously, they are afraid of the way you would vote.
You should also be aware that the jets that they wish to purchase – an attack-force piece of military hardware that is one more step in turning us away from the highly respected peace-keeping force we’ve always been, and into a more bellicose nation – are dumping the payment of them off onto you.
Harper fully admits the payments of these jets will not begin for five years, and continue for 20 years thereafter. A nice inheritance for you. Perhaps your health care can be reduced to cover the cost.
Your country needs your vote more than ever. Until they can abandon their fundamentalist approach, lets help dump the Conservatives from power in Ottawa by keeping them from power here in the territory.
Please get out (and bring your friends) and cast a vote for your future.