Within days of my appointment as Justice spokesperson for the Liberal Party of Canada, the Conservative attack and propaganda machine launched a fundraising letter "welcoming" me to my new position and kindly providing me with a subsidiary title: "Trudeau's chief soft on crime spokesman."
For the record: I am not soft on crime. However, agreeing with the so called Conservative crime agenda would arguably make me "dumb on crime." I will gladly concede the latter to my opponents as I value facts, evidence and truth. Then again, being accused of being soft on crime by a government with multiple ongoing investigations by the RCMP and Elections Canada for various ethics violations, is a bit rich.
Since 2006, the Conservatives have launched a wholesale attack on Canada's Criminal Code. Compliant backbench MPs submit private members' bills claiming to "fight this or that" or "combatting such and such," or suggesting they are "standing up for so and so." It is the illusion of doing something when they are in fact doing little -- raising money is the real goal.
These Conservative bills rarely tackle major issues and sometimes duplicate already existing criminal offences. One wonders though, if any Conservative backbench MP will propose a bill calling for mandatory minimums for election fraud.
The Conservative Party of Canada is less concerned about actually "tackling crime" or "fighting for victims" than they are about using slogans as marketing techniques to raise money.
And while today we mark World Day Against The Death Penalty -- it will be greeted with silence from official Conservative Ottawa. There will be no fundraising letter on this issue.
Although most countries in the world have moved away from this form of state-sanctioned punishment, hope lingers among some Conservatives in Canada that one day the death penalty will return. After all, the current Justice Minister once supported the death penalty -- saying "the option should be there." It is not clear how he feels about the matter today.
I am against the death penalty. I believe there is an inherent value to the human being. This extends even to those whose actions against others are repulsive and result in pain and suffering for victims and their families. That is why the justice system must be firm, tough and consistent when it comes to violent criminals.
Moreover, we know the justice system is not perfect. We have far too many examples of people who have been wrongly convicted, only to be found innocent later. The death penalty is final; there is no appeal when you are dead -- despite the discovery later, perhaps, of new evidence.
Today, I join with millions of people across the globe as we mark World Day Against The Death Penalty. The taking of one's life, as a remedy for the criminal behaviour of another, is not justified or permissible in Canada, nor should it be. This position may very well result in more accusations of being "soft" on crime, but in those moments I am simply obliged, as they say, to consider the source.
Sean Casey QC, MP, is the Liberal Member of Parliament for Charlottetown, and Liberal Party of Canada spokesperson for Justice Issues.