Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is pressing ahead with plans to create mandatory minimum prison terms for drug crimes in spite of two studies prepared for his own department that say such laws don't work, and are increasingly unpopular as crime-fighting measures in other countries.
"Minimum sentences are not an effective sentencing tool: that is, they constrain judicial discretion without offering any increased crime-prevention benefits. Nevertheless, mandatory sentences remain popular with some Canadian politicians."
That's one conclusion of a 2005 report prepared for the Justice Department, titled Mandatory Sentences of Imprisonment in Common Law Jurisdictions.
An earlier 2002 report, titled Mandatory Minimum Penalties: Their Effects on Crime, also compiled for the department while the Liberals were in power, offers a similar view:
"Harsh mandatory minimum sentences do not appear to influence drug consumption or drug-related crime in any measurable way."
There is a fundamental arrogance attached to presenting legislation which finds little support from those that have examined the issue. Ignoring reports and studies, instead of using them as guides, is a recipe for bad policy.
The Conservative's have obviously concluded that they are more interested in appearances, rather than the actual substance. All that matters is the optics, the Conservatives are getting tough on crime, the facts irrelevant to the presentation. Good politics trump good government, and the calculation assumes that no one really notices the details. Flaherty went on the same path with the GST cut, despite overwhelming opinion from economists. Baird introduced policies that ran completely counter to what was recommended. Van Loan proposes a seat distribution scheme that introduced fundamental unfairness, articulated by expert opinion. Strahl embarks on an ideological pursuit against the CWB, despite consistent advice that he was acting outside of the legal framework. Etc, etc...
No matter the portfolio, you see increasing evidence of a pre-determined agenda, that is deaf to any advice. The Conservatives make the initial decision, and then lack the pragmatism to accept the rationale of differing viewpoints. You can characterize this posture as dangerous, because it pre-supposes a "we know best" mentality, that isolates the government from outside influence.
In many cases, the Conservatives believe that the "experts" in the field, typically civil servants and/or academics, have a pre-existing ideological stance which predetermines their research approach and/or their results. Thus, they believe that the people who write the reports are part of the problem, not the solution. Whether the Conservatives are correct in this belief - in some areas, all areas, or no areas - will determine the success of their policies.
"In many cases, the Conservatives believe that the "experts" in the field, typically civil servants and/or academics, have a pre-existing ideological stance which predetermines their research approach and/or their results. Thus, they believe that the people who write the reports are part of the problem, not the solution."
What colossal arrogance.
And with that we see the inherent hubris and only we know what is best mindset of the modern Canadian Conservative Party of Canada supporter. Note the complete lack of substantiation of the smears made against civil servants and academics, note also that the comment complains of their unsupported claim of all being blinded by ideological inability to perceive reality while simultaneously stating that the ideological positions/blinders of the CPC is entirely appropriate. The inherent logical contradiction at the heart of this argument is typical of the CPC and its defenders.
As for whether the CPC is correct or not, if they refuse to accept any outside information that does not pass their ideological test first then it is entirely probable that objectively the policies fail while ideologically they are seen as succeeding. Indeed, the argument boils down to claiming that only one political party's (CPC) ideologically approved sources can be trusted, this is exactly the sort of logic/reasoning that was used throughout the USSR and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War by the Communists. This notion that only the CPC ideology is an acceptable basis for making policy while rejecting all outside contrary opinion as somehow always being rooted in ideological rigidity being advanced as a defence only underscores the inability of the commentator to be consistent in his application of logic, reason, and principle.
Punishment and prevention are two separate issues.
When you punish someone you are sending them to the slammer for breaking the law.
The leftist social programs failed to work so the convict needs to be punished.
So when you try to confuse the two issues, pretending their a single issue, your showing your true ignorance to the justice system.
Punishment and prevention are two separate words and require two separate policies.
"their unsupported claim of all being blinded by ideological inability to perceive reality while simultaneously stating that the ideological positions/blinders of the CPC is entirely appropriate. The inherent logical contradiction at the heart of this argument is typical of the CPC and its defenders."
Scotian, that pretty much sums it up.
This new Conservative Party is a very paranoid entity, that seems to believe everyone else has an agenda, and they set themselves up with a seige mentality.
To use one international reference, I believe the American cousins also approach policy like the Conservatives. That might explain wars that no "civil servants" or "academics" endorsed, or a tax regime, which left an enormous debt, which will haunt the economy for a generation.
I noticed you carefully avoid any reference to the substance of the post. Besides that, your elementary level breakdown of the obvious is hardly enlightening. Might I suggest the Blogging Tories, more your speed, or neutral as the case may be.
Steve: the same thing occured to me. I wrote about it last month. It is truely hard to take the Conservatives seriously from a policy standpoint.
>>>> The leftist social programs failed to work so the convict needs to be punished. <<<<
Whatever do you mean? Are you saying that crime has gone up? If so you are wrong. Crime, violent crime in particular has plummeted since 1993.
Are you suggesting that mandatory minimums, in particular for drug crimes, are not a disaster? If so, you are wrong about this too. There is a consenus that mandatory minimums are abysmal failure. Arch conservative former U.S Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist had this to say:
“These mandatory minimum sentences are perhaps a good example of the law of unintended consequences. There is a respectable body of opinion which believes that these mandatory minimums impose unduly harsh punishment for first-time offenders -- particularly for 'mules' who played only a minor role in a drug distribution scheme. Be that as it may, the mandatory minimums have also led to an inordinate increase in the federal prison population and will require huge expenditures to build new prison space...
Mandatory minimums... are frequently the result of floor amendments to demonstrate emphatically that legislators want to 'get tough on crime.' Just as frequently they do not involve any careful consideration of the effect they might have on the sentencing guidelines as a whole. Indeed, it seems to me that one of the best arguments against any more mandatory minimums, and perhaps against some of those that we already have, is that they frustrate the careful calibration of sentences, from one end of the spectrum to the other, which the sentencing guidelines were intended to accomplish.”
Another point, if our lefty system is so flawed, why is that foreign delegations have visited our prison system, because of the successes when it comes to rehabiliation? Who tries to replicate a failure?
"There is a pattern developing, on a host of issues, wherein the Conservatives plow ahead with an idea, despite the fact that the catalogue of evidence suggests the policy is flawed."
I think you have essentially hit the short definition of government by ideology. You know, governing as if you know all of the answers even before you know the questions.
Many Liberals have been concerned about the troubles of Mr. Dion. We are seeing a silver lining of those troubles with the Conservative's recent actions.
The Conservatives have been careful to appear moderate for the last couple of years but it appears their belief that Mr. Dion is not a threat is bringing more of their true nature out.
In short, they are going against the thinking of their guru Tom Flanagan and that could spell trouble for them in the medium-term.
"The Conservatives have been careful to appear moderate for the last couple of years but it appears their belief that Mr. Dion is not a threat is bringing more of their true nature out."
Ottlib, I think the Cons have concluded that all they need is the buzz phrase "tough on crime" and nobody will notice the details. I admit, they might get away with soundbite politics in this instance, but on others they might get burned, due to circumstance. The upcoming talks in Bali will finally smoke out the government on the environment, because we move beyond the theoretical and positions are out in the open. I don't know if you caught it today, but the Quebec delegation will criticize the government approach at the talks, so there is a gathering storm that will expose the "moderate" persona for the sham that we all know. Events will trump the message control in this instance
Who tries to replicate a failure?
One who does come to mind.
LOL, so true.
That raises another point, of failing to inspect the landscape, real experience, in developing a policy.
markch - this is not about the conservatives slanting their research, because they have no research. This is about the conservatives ignoring the mountains of evidence that minimum sentences are costly and do not decrease crime. In fact, there is some suggestion they may increase crime.
They are not interested in actual results here. This is a wedge issue where they see believe (probably correctly) where they can make gains at the liberals expense. It is completely irresponsible, but then they are only really interested in winning a majority. Public safety does not play a role here.
"They are not interested in actual results here. This is a wedge issue where they see believe (probably correctly) where they can make gains at the liberals expense. It is completely irresponsible, but then they are only really interested in winning a majority. Public safety does not play a role here."
Koby, while your statement about violent crime is true, your choice of 1993 is highly questionable. As shown by Stats Can, 1991-1996 were especially high years for violent crime, with a peak in 1993, about 15% higher than today's level. You might also want to note that violent crime has been essentially flat since 1999, at a level significantly higher than in 1988 and every previous year on record.
This contrasts with the USA, where current violent crime rates are less than half the rate of any year from 1973 to 1995.
I personally am not a big supporter of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes: I would prefer to reserve the heavy sentences for use or posession of firearms in connection with drug crimes.
Actually markch I think your stats are wrong. During the 2006 election Stats Can reported that our crime rate was at its lowest since we started keeping track of the crime rate in the 1960's. Sure 1991 was high, but we are now lower than we were in the 1970's.
Actually, Gayle, for violent crime, you are incorrect. Please see page 16 of this Stats Can document.
Fair enough, though I note that with the exception of one year they have been dropping steadily since then. (I wonder why the media was reporting it was lower than the 1970's???).
Also, your comparison with the US crime rate is inappropriate. If you go back to the link you referred me to you will see it is statistically improper to compare the two countries because of the different methodologies for collecting data. They made the only statistically appropriate comparisons they could and concluded the US violent crime rate is higher than Canada's.
To that I would add that in Canada we have different offences. For example, sexual assault in Canada covers everything from pinching someone's butt to forcible intercourse. In the US they differentiate between forcible rape and other lesser offences.
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