Stephen Harper's reaffirmation of his tough-on-crime agenda on Sunday, Jan. 23, the fifth anniversary of his gaining power, came at an odd time. Just days before, uber-conservative American Newt Gingrich had publicly denounced the lock 'em up approach.
In a Washington Post article, entitled, Prison Reform: A smart way for states to save money and lives, Gingrich and co-writer Pat Nolan stated: "There is an urgent need to address the astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential."
On a list of favourite activities, renewing my car registration would rank rather low. Still, having done it recently, I can attest that it didn't feel like an assault on my freedom.
Other car owners with me in line seemed similarly undisturbed, apparently realizing this was part of a rather sensible system of licensing and registering drivers and vehicles in an attempt to ensure that the powerful, motorized vehicles we drive at great speeds kill and injure fewer people.
Yet, strangely, this week parliamentarians seem set to vote for a Conservative private member's bill to scrap a registry that provides a similar system of regulatory control -- but for a product that is far more likely to kill.
It feels as if crime news -- think Oscar Pistorius -- is more prominent than it's ever been. Not just where it always rules, in tabloids or all-news radio, but on "serious" outlets like CNN, the New York Times or the CBC -- fast becoming the Crime Broadcasting Corporation. There have always been places where journalism retreats in order to escape dull, headscratchy things like politics and economics. These refuges include weather, natural disasters, traffic accidents, celebrities, awards shows -- I'd like to see a survey on whether crime tops that list right now.
Percentage drop in Canada's crime severity index (a measure of the seriousness of crime) between 2001 and 2011. Canada's crime rate is the lowest point it's been since 1972. (Source)
Year Canada's crime rate peaked. Crime has since been dropping throughout Canada for most offences, including attempted murders, major assaults, sexual assaults, robberies, break-ins and motor vehicle thefts. (Source)
Majority of Canadians Support Return of Death Penalty Poll Finds - by Richard J Brennan
"A half-century has passed since the last person in Canada was executed, but a recent public opinion poll suggests Canadians are warming to the idea of a return to capital punishment.
The survey, conduced by Angus Reid Public Opinion in partnership with the Toronto Star found that 63% of the 1,002 Canadians surveyed across the country believe the death penalty is sometime appropriate.
Sixty-one per cent said capital punishment which was abolished in Canada in 1976, is warranted for murder.."