Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pesky Facts

To hear the Harper government speak, Canada is in the midst of a crime wave, that only his government takes seriously. Relying on fear mongering and tabloid journalism, Harper preys on false perceptions for political gain. Too bad the facts paint a different picture:

Contrast the facts, with the rhetoric:
Canadians have always been proud of their safe streets and communities—something that long distinguished us from our friends across the border.

Today, however, crime is erasing the promise of our Constitution, the promise of peace, order and good government.

Canadians want their safe streets and communities back.

Under our government, the protection of law-abiding citizens and their property is once again becoming the top priority of our criminal justice system.

Stephen Harper Throne Speech 2007

"Crime is erasing the promise of our Constitution"?:



Violent crime: Decline in most serious offences

Property crime: Decline in break-ins and motor vehicle theft

Youth crime: Slight decline in the youth crime rate

Metropolitan areas: Declines seen in most cities

A responsible government takes its cues from the statistics, a political opportunistic government, takes its cues from SunMedia.

I do have one suggestion. If Harper really wants to see criminals behind bars, then maybe he could quit clogging up our courts with his petty legal actions.

31 comments:

Mike said...

That's be cause these so-called "conservatives" are fascist liars. And that isn't hyperbole.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I agree. It's a challenge for the leftish parties though, because although all the stats show crime going down. every study also shows public perception showing the opposite. People also increasingly feel less safe.

While their feeling runs counter to the reality, the feeling is still very real and we can't ignore it. And it's that feeling that all parties, actually, are increasingly playing too. I was disappointed to see the Liberals, and I think possibly the NDP too, come out for mandatory minimums in the last campaign.

The feeling of unsafeness counter to reality is probably fed by a variety of factors, from media fearmongering to political tough on crime posturing.

If we're going to have sensible crime policy though, and neuter these Conservative attacks, we need to counter this false perception that's out there. I'm not totally sure how we do it, but putting out the "pesky facts" and highlighting them at every step is probably a good start.

Anonymous said...

And, the Conservatives' crime package had nothing to do with it.

Also, all the hype from the west about Toronto crime....and they are worse by a long shot.

Steve V said...

Perceptions are lagging behind reality, but the trend is encouraging.

It is a shame that all parties pander to the false perceptions, and Harper has successfully forced others to react, to look relevant.

Steve V said...

mike

Anyone want to bet, that when Harper is out of office, he takes credit for lowering crime rates?

Anonymous said...

Let's make a headline - Crime rates continue to tumble under the old Liberal crime laws........

Steve V said...

There is a co-relation between failing crime rates and when the Liberals took power from Mulroney. Not that it really means anything, but given the false posturing, why not.

Anonymous said...

"A responsible government takes its cues from the statistics, a political opportunistic government, takes its cues from SunMedia."
The Cons don't care about facts or statistics, it's all about manipulating the message. We, however, need to inform ourselves and give as good as we get. Most of us see through the bs at work, at home and with our acquaintances. If Harper doesn't remind you of that manipulative co-worker who misrepresents your ideas for his own personal gain, I don't know who does.

Blues Clair said...

I lived in midtown New Orleans for six months a few years back, I can't tell you how nice it was to move up to Montreal and feel safe walking around at night again. Obviously there is problems with crime in certain pockets of Canada but over all it is a pretty nice place to live. Also, Harper don't like stats or expert opinion as they make him (and most politians) look kind of silly.

Mushroom said...

Steve,

Do you have the numbers showing whether the certain crimes have gone up in rural areas, thus feeding Harper's probably pre-election frenzy?

Law and order is an issue that the centre and hard right owns, despite the stats prove otherwise. Expect the Cons to work down the checklist and start to criminalize anti-social behaviour. Locking up young people for playing the stereos too loud and loitering in shopping plazas. Suits the movement towards "zero tolerance".

Anonymous said...

You left out the best part, crime is highest in the western provinces which tend to lean conservative. Why hasn't their law and order agenda fixed that problem? Seems us liberal easterners have a grip on it and we don't even talk excessively about it. Its also should be mentioned that these are the same people who want guns to be uncontrolled. Maybe thats the problem.

Mushroom said...

Anon at 5:02

Thanks for confirming my facts.

Unfortunately, this enhances the prime argument of Harper's Cons. The need to build firewalls because the oil patch boom has led to uncouth Easterners bringing their anti-social habits into Western Canada :(.

Steve V said...

Some interesting comments from a pollster:

Less crime could hurt law-and-order Tories at the polls, experts say

"If crime rates continue to come down, then eventually the level of fear will not rise, but it might actually taper off or stabilize, in which case the usefulness of it as a ballot question for the Conservatives will weaken over time," said Bruce Anderson, president of polling firm Harris-Decima."


And, I forgot about this nonsense:

""(They) try to pacify Canadians with statistics," he told party supporters in January.
"Your personal experiences and impressions are wrong, they say; crime is really not a problem. These apologists remind me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz when the wizard says, 'Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."'
That assertion was echoed Thursday by Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.\

"We are not governing by statistics. We are governing by what we promised Canadians in the last election and what Canadians have told us," he said in an interview."

Reason and factually based arguments, what a concept.

Rieff's Riffs said...

I personally know 6 different people in the last few months who were assaulted with weapons. They didn't report it to the police because they new nothing would come of it. People are not reporting even serious crimes now.

There are plenty of places in the city I live which people totally avoid because of crime concerns - there will be no stats on that either.

Parents watch their kids like hawks and keep them under constant supervision, living children playing outside unsupervised is a thing of the past - no stats on that, just further erosion of our social capital and lifestyle.

So no Bcer in Toronto and steve v, that is the reality, not measured by your statistics.

Steve V said...

riff

Oh, the "nobody reports anything" argument. How entirely convenient to support one's pre-conceived bias. You're bulletproof.

Anonymous said...

I see crime in my neighborhood every week.

BTW every criminologist worth his salt will tell you that crime statistics are a function of what is being reported.

In many instances crime stats dropping is actually a function of it getting worse: people actually giving up hope and not reporting.

Thank god we have a Prime Minister who thinks about his most important function: the safety and well being of the citenzenry.

And also thank god we don't have a Prime Minister willing to "play with statistics" to please their far left base, rather than protecting the public.

God bless you Mr. Harper, and thank you for caring about me and my children!!

knb said...

Rieff's Riffs, where do you live?

If you 'personally' know 6 people who didn't report, I hope you told them they were stupid.

Afterall, you are either all about law and order, which means calling the police and supporting their effort or you're not.

Spare me the 'their hands are tied' argument.

Steve V said...

"In many instances crime stats dropping is actually a function of it getting worse"

You people make my head hurt.

knb said...

anon, of course it's an anon say's:

In many instances crime stats dropping is actually a function of it getting worse

What?

Thank god we have a Prime Minister who thinks about his most important function: the safety and well being of the citenzenry.

Okay. I'm convinced that all these people who apparently love Harper because they are thanking their God, (and probably mixing up the two), are absolutely off the scale delusional.

Harper cares about Canadian citizens? Khadr would disagree as would Arar. Oh, what about the Canadians in Chinese jails and the man in the US on death row? There are many more, but people like anon give me pause.

So ill informed, so devoted to lies, I'm grateful they only represent about 30% of us, though that is scary in itself.

Steve V said...

Actually, I take the fact that Harper is leader of the country as proof positive that god either a)doesn't exist or b) is a benign entity that lacks the ability to intervene in the affairs of men.

Anonymous said...

I can think of thousands of more pressing concerns in my and my family's life, than the fate of a terrorist who chose to join a group, dedicated to killing my way of life, and if they had a chance, killing me, my wife, and my family for wanting to live my way of life.

That the fate of such individuals is among your (and others on the left) most important,

speaks volumes.

The left stands up for terrorists.

Harper stands up for the safety of every day families.

Gee, I wonder why Harper has managed to stay in power this long despite taking the reigns of one of the most precarious minorities in our country's history.

Get used to it, cuz Harper's going to be in power for a lot longer.

And thank God for that!!

Steve V said...

"Get used to it, cuz Harper's going to be in power for a lot longer."

I guess November could qualify as "a lot longer".

Steve V said...

"the reigns of one of the most precarious minorities in our country's history."

At least you admit, he never was very popular. Although, sadly, even less popular today.

ottlib said...

"Actually, I take the fact that Harper is leader of the country as proof positive that god either a)doesn't exist or b) is a benign entity that lacks the ability to intervene in the affairs of men."

c) has an exceedingly warped sense of humour.

ottlib said...

Stephen Harper and his followers are ideologues and ideologues do not care about any fact or evidence that does not back their ideology.

So it should come as no surprise that they would dismiss Statistics Canada's report.

The reason why I do not like or trust Mr. Harper is because he is an ideologue. Being a Blue Liberal, on economic issues at least, I cannot say I totally disagree with some of the economic proposals the Conservatives have come up with.

However, it is their style of governing that bugs me.

Like all ideologues they already have all of the answers and so they try to manipulate the questions to fit them. It is a bass ackwards way of doing things and it is unsustainable in the medium to long-term. Therefore, that style of government inevitably leads to bad governance, which, if taken to extremes can be disasterous for the country and society.

Witness what is happening in the US for a prime example.

Stephane Dion seems to take a more logical approach, which is to gather data on an issue and then formulate a policy proposal to deal with it.

I cannot say I always agree with the policy proposals that come from this process but at least I trust the process much better than the Harper alternative.

Wow, that was a much longer comment than intended. Sorry to ramble on so much.

Steve V said...

"Like all ideologues they already have all of the answers and so they try to manipulate the questions to fit them. It is a bass ackwards way of doing things and it is unsustainable in the medium to long-term. Therefore, that style of government inevitably leads to bad governance, which, if taken to extremes can be disasterous for the country and society."

And there it is. Well put.

Joseph said...

I have noticed that the ottlib fellow is pretty darn smart.

He should run for office . . . seriously.

Mike said...

"Anyone want to bet, that when Harper is out of office, he takes credit for lowering crime rates?"

Well of course. Its not like the Liberals had anything to do with it either though...demographics are changing. The Baby Boom brought not just prosperity, but crime. And now that they are getting old, well, crime is dropping.

Of course, there is the more controversial idea as expressed in "Freakonomics" for the drop in crime rate...either way, the Cons won't like it.

Mike said...

BTW every criminologist worth his salt will tell you that crime statistics are a function of what is being reported.

In many instances crime stats dropping is actually a function of it getting worse: people actually giving up hope and not reporting.


Says someone without a Criminology degree. Those of us with one will now laugh at you:

Bwahahahahaha!!!!

Retard.

If crime isn't really going down, why then do police have the resource to do cold case investigations? Are you seriously suggesting that is because murders are actually gong up, but people aren't reporting them?

You realize that the murder rate is at a 30 year low and that Toronto has a murder rate 3 times less than Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg?

No I guess that doesn't fit with the law and order wet dream of authoritarians. When the facts don't fit, make shit up. Lie. Exaggerate, conflate and confuse.

Gayle said...

"BTW every criminologist worth his salt will tell you that crime statistics are a function of what is being reported.'

They will also tell you there is no correlation between penalty and crime rates, so Harper's little tough on crime package accomplishes absolutely nothing to increase the safety of our streets.

Gayle said...

"Expect the Cons to work down the checklist and start to criminalize anti-social behaviour."

If they do that the crime rate will increase. If you are going to create new crimes, you are going to create new criminals.