In virtually any election or pre-election campaign, if there's any topic that it's largely safe to campaign on, it's crime.
There's a very simple reason for this. Canadians of all political stripes recognize that crime detracts from their quality of life, and Canadians of all political stripes want crime dealt with.
One thing that Canadians are certain to represent is when crime is treated as an ideological issue. Unfortunately for Canada, one particular ideology reigs supreme in Canadian justice: the belief that all individuals can be rehabilitated, and that law's role is simply to deter criminals, then rehabilitate them when they do offend.
Unfortunately, the individuals who subscribe to this particular ideology have over looked at least one of the law's other roles.
Jeff Jedras seems to be one of these individuals:
"I remember being dumbfounded during the 2005/06 election campaign, when the Paul Martin Liberals included support for mandatory minimum sentences for some (gun-related) crimes in the election platform, a move to echo ineffective Conservative policy proposals that was also adapted by the NDP.What Jedras -- and so many members of the the so-called "smart"-on-crime crowd don't seem to get is that deterrence is not the only purpose the law serves.
Mandatory minimums don’t work, the evidence on that point from the US is pretty overwhelming. Criminals know what they’re doing is wrong and they know there are consequences; mandatory minimums aren’t a deterrent. They do nothing to prevent crime, they only increase prison populations. They're about appearing tough on crime without doing the heavy-lifting to actually prevent crime."
The protection of society seems to be the legal missing link for his particular crowd. They complain that mandatory minimum sentences "only increase prison populations". They don't seem to understand that, at the end of the day people who commit violent and gun-related offenses belong in prison.
In cases where an individual is a repeat violent offender -- and that they cannot be effectively rehabilitated, as is the other pillar of any effective criminal justice system -- they belong in prison longer. Probably even indefinitely.
This is not a difficult concept to understand. Yet somehow the ideologically-blindfolded "smart"-on-crime crowd seem to manage not to.
Jedras goes on to complain that the Conservative bill would institute mandatory minimum sentencing on "simple possession". This is actually untrue.
In fact, Bill C-15 would introduce mandatory minimum sentencing in cases where someone is convicted of trafficking or growing marijuana without a medical permit. There's actually a big difference.
While Jedras makes a much stronger case regarding recent suggestions by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson that he may introduce legislation allowing police to randomly administer roadside breath tests, it's hard to see how one could miss the mark any more on the topic of mandatory minimum sentencing.
It should be noted that most criminals can be rehabilitated, and should be.
But people who commit violent crimes or traffic kdrugs belong in prison. Every day that such individuals are prison is a day that they aren't on Canadians streets peddling their wares or committing said violent acts.
Every day that they are in prison protects Canadian society from their misdeeds.
This isn't that difficult a concept to understand. The problem may not be that some of Canada's left-of-centre parties are "soft" on crime. It may just be that they're soft headed on crime.