Crime bill clears Commons

The federal Conservative government's omnibus crime bill passed through the House of Commons on Monday. It is expected to pass through the Senate, which also has a Conservative majority.

The federal Conservative government’s omnibus crime bill passed through the House of Commons on Monday.

It is expected to pass through the Senate, which also has a Conservative majority, and become law before Christmas.

“It’s disappointing,” said Charles Stuart, co-ordinator of Northern Justice and Criminology at Yukon College. “This is really a flawed social policy.”

The 30-year “war on drugs” experience and multiple repeals now being filed for mandatory sentence legislation in the United States directly warns about aspects of the nine-in-one bill, said Stuart.

It’s interesting the Canadian government is doing this now, he added.

The 1980s had some of the highest crime rates in North America and that was when American politicians used ‘fear of crime’ techniques to get elected and create law and order legislation. But Canada never jumped on that bandwagon, Stuart said.

The most upsetting and ironic thing about this bill is that Canadians don’t need to look that far south to see problems.

Ottawa has led the way in areas of restorative justice and has produced massive amounts of consistent research proving how bad the policies in this bill are, Stuart said.

“Our government is producing the research and yet our politicians aren’t listening to it,” he said. “It’s almost morally corrupt. They’re just completely ignoring all the current research in the field that Canada has been instrumental in, globally.”

Even in the Yukon, specifically, Stuart is disappointed with the lack of political effort to stop this bill.

“Not more than 10 years ago, the Yukon was a world leader in restorative justice,” he said. “We really had some interesting potential here to create an alternative system to the standard.”

Most specifically, Stuart points to the bill’s changes for youth and mandatory sentencing.

Put simply, the bill lowers the age of “youth” from 16 to 14, meaning more youth will be put in jail at a younger age, said Stuart.

This ignores Canada’s own research on how prisons are “colleges of crime” and the more time spent incarcerated, at younger ages, the more likely people will re-offend, he added.

And mandatory sentencing is best described as “one-size-fits-all,” said Stuart.

“Regardless of whether you’re non-violent, mentally ill or a violent, repetitive offender, you’re treated exactly the same way,” he said. “Which essentially removes discretion from judges and shifts it to crowns.”

This will mean fewer people will plead guilty and the already over-burdened court systems will clog up, he added.

Stuart also points out the unintended consequences of the bill’s stricter rules on drug offences.

While it will effectively shut down small-time growers and dealers, it will only cause more large-scale, organized crime to take root, he said.

There will never be an end to crime and the need for prisons, but this bill ignores that all offenders are eventually released, Stuart added.

Prison is a temporary and expensive situation, and by focusing on it, governments divert resources from community systems, like probation structures, which will also still be needed.

As a criminologist, this new bill is interesting and will produce a lot of employment in the corrections industry, said Stuart.

But as a Canadian and a Yukoner, he has lost faith in a government he used to be proud of.

“Down the road, we’re going to turn back and say, ‘Oh, what have we done.’” he said.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Most Read