06.05.2012 12:00 AM

In today’s Sun: the politics of crime

There’s a reason why so-called law-and-order issues are favoured by conservatives. It’s because, politically, law-and-order issues favour conservatives.

These tragedies tend to follow a sad pattern. First, the crime.

As the whole country knows by now, there was a fatal weekend shooting at Toronto’s crowded Eaton Centre food court, which saw a man killed, many hurt, and a boy critically wounded.

As in the 2005 shooting of teenaged Jane Creba — during a federal election campaign, no less, and a short walk from the latest killing — emotions ran high. There were popular expressions of shock and anger, and the death penalty was up for discussion once again.

Next, the politicians — conservative ones, almost always — seemingly rush to capitalize on it. Thus, Toronto’s mayor and Canada’s prime minister, wasted no time in condemning the violence at the Eaton Centre and promising swift and harsh justice.


  1. Steve T says:

    Irrespective of party lines, the public wants justice and increasingly does not get it. Anecdotally or otherwise, it appears to the public that many criminals are repeat offenders (and/or “escalating” offenders), who were given a slap on the wrist by the justice system and turned loose to commit another crime. Here in Winnipeg, it is a story we hear all too often, and we are sick of it.

    Discussion of how crime rates are declining overall, or of how the poor criminal just needed a hug and a hot meal and all would have been avoided, are incredibly frustrating to those who became his/her next victim, and to the public at large. Activist judges, coupled with ridiculous legislation like the Young Offenders Act, simply add to the frustration. It would be nice if judges and politicians were forced to live in the same communities as those they set free. Instead, they live in cushy suburbs, far removed from the chaos and fear they create.

    Therefore, at election time, the public is looking for increased enforcement. Conservatives, typically, have been the ones who promise (and occasionally deliver) in this area. It is something the NDP and Libs could easily match, if they wanted, but they don’t seem interested. Until that time, law-and-order will be the domain of Conservatives in the public eye.

    • smelter rat says:

      And Steve repeats all the talking points, right on cue.

      • Steve T says:

        And, right on cue, SmelterRat engages in an arbitrary insult with no real rebuttal or actual facts.

        • smelter rat says:

          Get real. You’re not looking for a debate, you just want to repeat what you’ve been programmed to believe. State some facts with references and maybe we’ll get somewhere.

    • Philip says:

      But Conservatives are still OK with their senior executives pleading guilty and paying fines for breaking Election Canada’s spending rules, right Steve? I guess it’s hard our PM not to hug a thug when they pop over for dinner every now and again. Your Conservative Party no longer is seen by anyone as the law and order party.

      • Ted H says:

        The Conservatives have shown no respect for the law when it gets in their way, they show no respect for Parliamentary tradition, they don’t believe in the principle of gun control and it is no secret they prefer a more free-wheeling American approach. “The fish rots from the head down” as the Italians say, so in a self fulfilling prophecy, crime rates will increase in this country because the government has set the tone for a less law abiding society.

        • JamesHalifax says:

          Ted H….every time you post something, you more clearly show the cocoon you have created in your own little world.

          Canada has a TON of gun control….the tories simply got rid of the gun registry. That is the ONLY difference.

          As for your other delusions…er, arguments, I have nothing.

          I can’t fix your level of stupid.

          • Ted H says:

            Thank you sir for correcting the wrong thinking of just about everyone who posts here with your sophomoric expertise, on…..well….everthing.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            I do what I can Ted…….I do what I can.

            And, you are welcome.

      • Kevin says:

        Did you even read Steve’s point? He’s right on. I have personally lived through the experience of having a friend murdered and the guilty party only receiving a four year sentence. It is unbelievable how light the sentences are in Canada for Violent Crime. Canadians by and large want tougher sentences for violent crime and if they don’t they likely haven’t lived through the experience of having a loved one be the victim of violent crime. Those of who have do turn to the Conservative Party because they are the only party proposing any changes. Are you seriously trying to equate election Canada spending rules with violent crime???? Unbelievable!

        • Philip says:

          Yes, I did read Steve’s post, Kevin. The point I am making is that whether you steal other people’s money at gun point or by using a pen and a briefcase, you are still a criminal. Particularly if you plead guilty. Two sitting Conservative Senators have plead guilty and paid fines for elections spending practices which intentionally violated Canadian law. Just because you refuse to equate the two doesn’t mean that other Canadians haven’t.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            I see your point Philip….

            There actually IS no difference between a person threatening to shoot you in the face and between a white collar crook who skips town with your loot. No difference at all.

            In fact, using your logic, I’ll make a similarly coherent comparison.

            I don’t think Jeffrey Dahmer was a homosexual cannibal who picked up men in bars so he could indulge in his tendency to cut up people and eat their innards….he was just a a lonely guy with an eating disorder.

            See Phil….it doesn’t sound the same when someone else changes the words a bit, while maintaining your logical conclusion.

          • Philip says:

            Not really sure where you are going with that one James. Care to spell it out for me?

          • JamesHalifax says:

            I s-e-e y-o-u-r p-o-i-n-t P-h-i-l-i-p …..

            Sorry, that was too much work.

            Basically phil, your comparison of a person using the threat of violence by gun, to that of a white collar criminal was just silly.

            Of course, both people can be considered criminals, however, one is likely to kill you, the other is not.

          • Philip says:

            Both the hypothetical carjacker and the two sitting Conservative Senators are criminals. Well, thanks for making my point for me, James

          • JamesHalifax says:

            And thank you for missing mine, Phil.

            At least you are consistent.

        • Tim Sullivan says:

          Murder carries with it a minimum 10 yr sentence. But if you know someone who was a victim of crime, you must be an expert.

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      You do not have one fact to support any of your claims. This supports WK’s position … crime, true or not, increases our insecurity, mostly because conservatives are scaredy cats with low intelligence.

      Criminals are repeat offenders. Let’s see if Pierre Poutine does his thing again.
      Slap on the writ. Perhaps the Conservative Party of Canada should have paid more in fines for breaking election laws.
      Crime rates are in decline, but the longer one lives, the more chance is there is to be exposed to crime. The Cons have 3 more years of destroying democracy and environmental protection.
      Who, pray tell, has ever said that criminals need a hug? Maybe some $16 OJ, but no one has said a hug will solve crime. Liberal policies and a declining demographic has done that.
      What exactly is an “activist” judge? A judge who applies the law? A judge who doesn’t?
      Ridiculous laws? Not sure what that is. The YOA (isn’t it something else now?) puts more kids behind bars than most other countries in the world. I agree that is ridiculous, but my facts trump your presumptions and bias.
      Judges and politicians do live in our communities. If you mean “poor” neighbourhoods, maybe crime is not the issue but poverty. Instead of a hug, how about a job? There are a lot of judges and politicians who do not live in the suburbs. There are not a lot of suburbs in Canada that I can tell. North Bay suburbs? Red Deer Suburb? Waterloo suburb? There are a lot of politicians who live in Toronto and Ottawa and Vancouver and Montreal, and not the burbs.
      Sure the Cons deliver on enforcement. Why not spend more money, even if the rehab policies in prison are cut. You know, the hugs they get at Kingston Penn.

      is supported by

  2. Ed says:

    Having a degree in criminology, I love to talk crime policy, and cannot stand the politics of crime. I imagine it’s much the same way with other people and the issues that they have studied carefully and empirically.

  3. JamesHalifax says:

    Warren is correct when he wrote that Conservatives have cornered the market on the tough on crime crowd. People don’t care what the “experts” say, when reality contradicts what these self-described experts proclaim. We don’t care if we are told that getting tough on crime doesn’t reduce crime…because we know it is not true. These experts say locking up a burglar, thief, or murderer for years doesn’t affect the crime rate, but basic common sense says otherwise. True, locking up another Jamaican born gang member shooting up Toronto won’t stop other gang members from shooting up Toronto….but it will stop that PARTICULAR gang member from repeating his mayhem.
    The guy who shot up Eatons last week……was under house arrest. If he was in jail, no one would be dead, and no one would be injured. The fact that this guy didn’t respect his house arrest rules show clearly that the criminal minded….don’t follow the rules.

    Locking up a car thief for a minimum of two years may not stop him from being a car thief….but it will stop that PARTICULAR criminal from stealing another car for at least two years. That’s the basic reality, condensed into the lowest form. It may not make sense to the experts who study crime, but it certainly appeases the people who have become victims of crime.

    Basically, no one believes the “experts” on crime….for a very simple reason. These experts are usually proven wrong every time we hear another story of a multiple repeat offender pulling out an illegal handgun and opening up.

    The fact remains, if the shooter (or other shooters in the past) had been in jail where he belonged….this wouldn’t have happened.

  4. Philippe says:

    The law and order Republicans in the US have gotten their way. The result is an unmitigated disaster with one quarter of the world’s incarcerated population. Even guys like Gingrich are admitting they have it wrong. The fact Harper _emulates_ a system that’s been proven to fail points to either insanity, or cheap politics where power trumps public good. It’s the opposition’s job to expose the Cons on this one, and they need to stop being scared of being called wimps. Expose the insanity in a forceful way.

    • JamesHalifax says:

      Philip, the US jails are disproportianately packed with folks who were caught with pot. I’m not a big fan of the “war on drugs” for relatively harmless substances like marijauna, I would prefer to legalize it, or simply treat it as a small fine if you are doing it in public. Treat is like booze…..

      I’m only for locking up people with a tendency for violence, or repeat property crime. Those crimes impact other people and create victims. IF some pot-head wants to smoke himself silly and be a failure his whole life…his perogative. As long as I don’t have to pay for it.

      • smelter rat says:

        They are packed with people who’ve had the misfortune of running into the 3 strikes laws that are so popular with the far right. Most of tese people are poor and non-white. It’s not a model we should aspire to.

        • Philippe says:

          “Not a model we should aspire to” is putting it very mildly. The opposition need to expose the Cons as hypocrites, and unfortunately, in my opinion, they haven’t been doing their job on this file. Fear-mongering & horrible public policy shouldn’t translate into good politics, but it will continue translating into votes as long as we don’t counter effectively.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            Philip….if you want to counter effectively, then I recommend you come up with a solution to people shooting each other in the streets of Toronto.

            Citizens aren’t looking for a way to put people in jail. That isn’t the goal. We just want to be able to walk the streets without being shot at by a gang-banger. Unfortunately, jail is the only thing that seems to work in many cases.

          • smelter rat says:

            James…please give us a break. I’m sure you walk the streets of your city everyday without felling the need to duck and cover.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            True smelter rate……the duck and cover doesn’t much apply to my current residence, unfortunately, the break and enter scenario does.

            We don’t have the thug-life culture where I live……but we do have petty criminals who like to break into cars and steal, or climb through windows and take your TV, etc.

            The question, however was not about where i currently reside, it was about the big cities that have to deal with a criminal element that has wanton disregard for other citizens.

        • JamesHalifax says:

          smelter rat……we actually agree on something.

          I don’t believe in throwing people in jail for smoking pot. In fact, I don’t care what people do to themselves if it doesn’t affect society too much in general. I’m a bit of a Libertarian in that sense.

          We don’t have the 3 strike law in Canada, nor will we. But I do agree with you, that it is a foolish law as many of those incarcerated are not violent.

          • Philippe says:

            James, I would believe your statement if all you targeted was gang-bangers. But imposing minimum sentences for a recreational pot smokers is just plain nuts (not to mention un-affordable). At which point does it stop being about the public’s safety, but rather about imposing your stringent “morals” on society at large?

          • JamesHalifax says:

            Philip, you misinterpreted what I wrote.

            I actually agree with you. I don’t think people should be charged or convicted for offences dealing with marijuana. If people want to smoke pot, I don’t care. They aren’t bothering me as long as they do it responsibly. (meaning, don’t get stoned and drive, or don’t be stoned if you are at work..etc..)

            Treat it like booze and legalize it.

            come to think of it….that would be a great way to have the “occupy” crowd actually contribute to society through taxes.

  5. JamesHalifax says:

    Packing heat? Too many American Cop shows.

    As for Billybob’s metal detectors: Are you proposing we turn the Eaton Centre into a Detroit High School?

  6. Graham says:

    “inconvenient truth” for the Conservatives Mr. Kinsella???

    The “inconvenient truth” for the Liberal “progressive” types is Liberal, bleeding heart, hug-a-thug, activist judges keep releasing these pieces of human filth with “strict bail conditions” that are never followed.

    The accused was under “strict house arrest” and “ordered not to be in possession of a firearm”. Really? And as the Globe and Mail reported this morning, someone with the dead mans name matching his description had a violent criminal record a mile long in Alberta.

    This guy was in jail on firearms related charges from Toronto’s “summer of the gun” in 2005. He is currently facing sexual assault related charges from a 2010 incident. He was found to have breached bail conditions 2 years ago and when re-arrested, yet another Liberal activist judge released him with a $750 fine, which has yet to be paid by the way.

    As for Ford being quickly available to the media, I hope he would be. He’s the Mayor. Unlike a certain left leaning mayor who decided it was more important to stay in Vancouver rather than, you know, come back to Toronto actually be a leader when a propane explosion damn near leveled an entire neighbourhood. He aslo decided to skip the funeral for the Toronto Fire captain who died at the scene.

    Had Ford not showed up, his detractors would have been screaming at his no show.

    And yes. I am a conservative supporter. I am a white male and have a community college diploma, not a university degree.

    I went to Seneca College and learned skills that were actually in demand in the real world (Fire Protection Engineering – designing fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems) that would lead me to get a actual job. Unlike the “progressives” at university studying English Lit or some other nonsense then complain they can’t find a job anywhere.

    As always, Mr. Kinsella, I rarely agree with what you write, but thank you for actually allowing opposing views to be heard and seen, unlike other blogs/comment boards.

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      Where is your evidence that “accused” are leased with bail conditions? Murder suspects, released with bail conditions? Really? Name one.

      What is “strict house arrest” exactly. Let’s see the case.

      Ford has more cause to be afraid of the police than suggest they get the job done. Where is the assault charge or theft of a cell phone charge on that incident in his vacant yard next door?

  7. JamesHalifax says:

    You forgot to mention the shooter had another thing in common with those thugs who like to shoot up Toronto. He came from a place outside of Canada where violence is part of the culture.

    • Warren says:

      Careful, James.

      • JamesHalifax says:

        I never named names, Warren…..

        What I would have written would have been factually correct, but I won’t saddle your website with the hassle.

      • smelter rat says:

        I’m sure James meant Russia, or maybe the USA.

        • Jon says:

          Strictly hypothetically speaking: If the shooter did come from another country that has a culture of violence then we as Canadians should embrace this alleged offender and show compassion towards him. Canada is a multicultural and multi ethnic nation that was built on the backs of hard working immigrants. So it would only be fair to consider the hardship this alleged shooter may have experienced in his country of origin.

          After all he came to Canada for a better life and we welcome him with open arms. Maybe it’s not his fault that he was driven to commit an act of alleged violence if he even did so. Maybe because we never provided him with a chance to assimilate into our society or maybe we never showed respect for his religious or cultural beliefs.

        • JamesHalifax says:

          No, ratty….

          I didn’t name names……because I didn’t have to. If a Liberal like Warren’s knew what I meant…(because it is factually correct) then I suppose the rest of you would as well.

          • smelter rat says:

            I wasn’t being sarcastic, James. Your racism notwithstanding.

          • JamesHalifax says:

            The racism card ratty?

            Not surprising really.

            But ask yourself this. Why did you assume the country/countries I would mention would not be of European origin?

            that’s a blank you filled in yourself…..you just filled it with a country you think has a violent culture…and apparently, it wasn’t a white one.

            Guess you’re as much a racist as I am.

  8. Graham says:

    Mr. Kinsella wrote:

    “Next, the politicians — conservative ones, almost always — seemingly rush to capitalize on it” pointing to Harper and Ford.

    I notice you left out your pal McGuinty and his quick reaction and public statement about the shooting. IIRC he released his BEFORE Harper.

    You also left out at least one Federal NDP MP’s attempt to gain political points by directly suggesting the foot being sent to CPC headquarters as a message that Canadians were “upset with the way the Conservatives are operating”. Of course, that same NDP MP never did enlighten us with his theories as to why the box with the hand was addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada HQ.

  9. Conservative Socialist says:

    A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.

    People are creatures of passion. One can cite statistics and make arguments in favor of rehabilitation, but I think it’s very arrogant for ivory tower types to tell victims of crime that they aren’t justified in wanting some type of vengeance and that the criminal’s rights must be respected at all costs. That just creates and instills even more resentment with those who suffer personally from crime.

    I’m currently reading Moby Dick, and I’m halfway through. I actually can understand why Captain Ahab is so furious at the world for believing that it allowed that whale to bite off his leg. Perhaps Starbuck is right to admonish him, but perhaps a little bit of empathy might be a better tool of persuasion to convince him to drop his quixotic and suicidal ambitions.

    If crime is going down over all on a macro level, then that’s great.

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