Larry Bagnell is remaining mum on his plans for the next federal election.
But, if you didn’t know any better, an event this past weekend looked a lot like a campaign stop.
Bagnell was one of five panelists on Saturday brought together by the Victoria Faulkner Women’s centre to discuss federal crime policy.
It was the end of a week’s worth of activities to mark National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.
The panel included two of the people Bagnell, the Yukon’s former Liberal MP, faced in the last federal election: current MP Ryan Leef, and Green Party member and Whitehorse city councillor John Streicker.
It also had territorial NDP Justice critic Lois Moorcroft and Chantal Genier with the Council of Yukon First Nation’s justice program.
The group touched on topics including the federal government’s proposed victims’ bill of rights.
Bagnell credited the bill with doing a lot to help victims but said it was really only a good first step.
“But far more important is to reduce the victimization, to give the judges back their authority, which they’ve lost recently, to make good decisions, to reduce having more victims,” he said.
“More treatment, more courses, more restorative justice. By not doing those things we’re actually creating more victims.”
The group also touched on the need for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women – something Leef has publicly supported – and Leef’s private member’s bill to update the criminal code to include fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a mitigating factor when someone is sentenced.
Bagnell slammed the Harper government for the “disaster” that is food security in the North. That prompted Leef to call for a bit more civility in the discussion.
“I think it’s important that we have these discussions, particularly in panels like this,” Leef replied. “But you cannot help but notice the partisan jabs that get thrown in as we have these opportunities … I’m not sure that serves a fruitful discussion.”
When it came to the issue of restorative justice, Bagnell criticized “one particular party.”
“Because they didn’t believe in restorative justice, they limited judges authority so they couldn’t give the widest range of options, they limited the times when restorative justice could be used. It totally flies in the face of the facts when you have 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 per cent recidivism from criminals. What are you going to do?”
Leef said there is an exaggerated idea as to where mandatory minimums have been put in place.
Mandatory minimums are only in place for the most serious of crimes, he said. He said there is not an over-representation of Yukoners facing those charges.
In November 2000, Bagnell became the Yukon’s MP, winning by just 70 votes.
In 2011 he lost his seat to Leef by 132 votes.
After the event Bagnell remained coy when it came to his election plans.
“I’m certainly going to be involved somehow in the election to try and get a change in government,” he said.
When asked directly if he was going run again Bagnell replied: “We’ll see.”
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