Much discussion about Bill C-15, wherein the Liberals will support mandatory sentencing for drug crimes. Susan Delacourt peruses the online reaction, calling it a "Liberal Revolt". I won't rehash all the sound reasons for opposing our stance, but just a few comments on what is really going on here.
I'll make one basic assumption, the Liberals DON'T really support this measure. In fact, if left to our own devices, Liberals wouldn't even entertain the concept as a credible option to deal with drug crime. It's pretty obvious, the impetus to support is a pure political calculation, based on the misguided notion that we must neutralize the crime issue.
I'm disappointed in Ignatieff, but if one is being honest here, this "approach" has been present for a few years now, as Liberals continually bend and contort reacting to Conservative wedge politics. The government has never had the facts on their side, with almost all the crime legislation they've introduced since they took office. It's not different in this instance, little empirical support for C-15. It's actually embarrassing how little real justification the government can muster.
The entire premise of the Conservative agenda, exploit unsubstantiated fear within the public, use the disconnect between perception and reality to appear tough on crime, and in so doing paint your opponent as weak. Whenever the government gets in any sort of trouble, they beat the crime drum, whether it be for fundraising, shoring up their base, or trying to score points against the Liberals. The Liberals have always had the benefits of statistics, facts on the ground, concrete international examples, but in one sense it's a losing argument because on this issue perception IS reality. Don't tell me crime is diminishing, don't tell me that this initiative or that will be ineffective, don't tell me the Conservative agenda won't work, with the public your almost screwed as soon as you show dissent. I'm sure the Conservatives honestly believe much of what they propose, their ideological bent blindly guiding the agenda. However, the issues around crime take such prominence because tactically it's a wedge issue that they can exploit.
The Liberals are trying to nullify, trying to keep up their "creds" on crime, sound policy an afterthought. That's the bottom line, this latest example so transparent, I don't think I could stand to listen to any rationalization. I'm not necessarily outraged, because really it's all just another chapter in a reaccuring theme- the Conservatives have us SPOOKED on crime and we're always on the defensive, trying to improve the optics. People have made the conclusion, a mentality that has permeated Liberal ranks WELL before Ignatieff took the helm, that we have to counter the Conservative frame, because it's a winner for them with the public. Principle is sacrificed for a naked political calculus. Shocking I know...