Canada has always been recognized as being one of the safest countries in the world, boasting exceptionally low murder and violent crime rates, particularly in comparison to our American counterparts. However, a recent rise in gun violence on the streets of Canada's largest city has left many Canadians concerned about how safe our communities truly are. This violence has left many Canadians wondering whether we should advance tough-on-crime agendas. But having worked with many vulnerable populations I firmly believe that our time and resources would be better spent in addressing the issue of youth violence by investing in long-term preventative solutions and programs.
After Statistics Canada reported that police-reported crime was at its lowest level in 40 years, Vic Toews tweeted "Crime rate down 6% -- shows CPC tough on crime is working." I couldn't really understand how Bill C-10, which doesn't even begin to come into force until August 9 of this year, could somehow be responsible for a drop in crime in previous years. But then I realized...Toews must be the MP version of The Terminator: "A human-looking, apparently unstoppable cyborg (or in this case, Public Safety Minister) is sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor (or in this case, crime)."
Earlier today, an identified man was discovered in a school playground and pronounced dead from gunshot wounds. The latest killing was Toronto's 30th homicide of the year. In a desperate city that is looking for answers, its mayor, Rob Ford, and member of the mayor's executive committee, Councillor Michael Thompson, offer unusual Tea Party-like simple solutions to a complex made in Canada problem.
Canada is showing up in U.S. news media reports more than usual these days, and the stories suggest that a crime wave is underway. The lurid reports of feet and limbs being mailed to political party offices in Ottawa, and the recent food court shooting at Toronto's Eaton Centre, have fueled that perception.
As tough as it is to face, the truth is that too many of the Toronto's policies targeting guns and gang violence have been of little more than symbolic value, and of minimal effect in the communities most closely affected by this urban scourge. Rob Ford is running a Toronto where shootings for 2012 are now reported to be up more than 54.7 per cent over since the same period in 2011.
Time for prisoners to start paying their own way, says the Minister for Public Safety, Vic Toews. This will invariably lead to the reduction of community corrections programs that have been shown to best promote successful rehabilitation and reintegration. What if instead of trying to break the cycle of poverty-to-prison-to-poverty, we actively embraced it?
Here in Quebec, we have an original approach to youth crime that works. In 2010, the severity of youth crime in Quebec was the lowest in Canada, proof that we are not "soft" on crime but rather that we are smart and "tough" on its root causes. But now the Harper government wants to ignore the evidence and change that approach.
In Kevin O'Leary's new show, "Redemption Inc.," he promotes himself as a hero to the poor, criminalized, disenfranchised. He unquestioningly relies on market-driven clichés -- as he tells the woman who he sends home in the first episode: "You have to ask yourself, 'What can I do to make myself better and help the people I work for?'"
Though access to sex offender registries continue to be limited to police and correctional agencies here in Canada, America's attempts at creating a nationwide database have been stymied by how the state registries are operated and the wide differences in how sex offenders are treated from one state to another.