One of my favourite memories of Steve Cardiff is his fight in the house with the then-minister of Justice Marian Horne over the federal Conservative government’s crime bill. He tried his best to educate the minister on what impact the provisions in the bill would have on young offenders in the Yukon, and the territorial government financially.
I had never seen him come closer to an expletive that may have ended his efforts promptly by the Speaker.
Horne didn’t get it, as he said. I hope other Yukoners are more aware than she was that it targets youth for harsher punishments and takes away the protections we have in place for our children for good reason.
Now the majority Harper government has brought in an Omnibus Crime Bill that will take the entire Canadian justice system back to the Victorian Age.
The fill-the-prisons approach with mandatory sentencing has been a proven failure and a huge expense. Mandatory sentences backfire, taking precious resources from crime prevention programs and rehabilitation, and turn minor offenders into hardened criminals.
This approach is not hard on crime. It is tough on Canadians suffering from mental illness, addictions and poverty. It puts even more aboriginal people in jail where they are already overrepresented.
While the people who need help are in jail and after they come out, territorial taxpayers will have to pay for the draconian approach in this crime bill. There will be more people criminalized and our support systems overworked. Valuable rehabilitative justice, health and education programs will be cut.
Yukoners must demand that our Premier Darrell Pasloski and his government refuse to pay for the inevitable results of a strategy that has been tried and has failed everywhere and everyone.
We need to make Canada safer, not meaner. It is urgent that Yukoners write or phone our MP, MLAs, and the Yukon government now, urging them to oppose the Conservative Omnibus Crime Bill, which is now before Parliament.