According to today’s polls, the New Democrats are surging and now coming in second to Stephen Harper's Tories.
The Conservatives’ law-and-order plans are well known, although the total cost of them not so well documented. The kerfuffle over the pricetag of many of Harper’s get-tough-on-crime plans came to a head in February when the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer noted there needed to be a lot more detail in the government’s cost projection (read report). The document supplied to MPs outlining the costs also had Parliamentarians steaming in its lack of detail. The ordeal was the just another nail in the coffin of the last Parliament.
But as we get closer to voting day, and the NDP seems to be getting closer to the brass ring than its ever been, let’s see what the party has to say about crime and punishment in its platform. These are taken directly from the official NDP platform document:
• We will keep our communities safe from crime by investing in a balanced, effective approach based on prevention, policing, and prosecution;
• We will ensure that communities have the resources they need to invest in crime prevention programs, particularly those targeting youth, by increasing federal support to crime prevention initiatives from $65 million to $100 million per year;
• We will work with the provinces, territories, and First Nations communities to provide stable, multi-year funding to eventually put at least 2,500 new police officers on the streets, and keep them there permanently;
• We will give parents, teachers and police more tools to protect our children by making gang recruiting illegal, and establishing a comprehensive Correctional Anti-Gang Strategy to ensure that prisons do not serve as “crime schools” to train gang-involved offenders;
• We will create new, stand-alone offences for home invasions and carjackings;
• We will enact, the so-called “Lucky Moose” bill – a law that would allow citizens to detain criminals within “a reasonable amount of time” after a crime is committed;
• We will ensure that appropriate care, treatment, and interventions are available for mentally ill offenders in prison;
• We will ensure that gender identity and gender expression are included as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act, amend the hate crimes and sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code to ensure we are providing explicit protection for transgender and transsexual Canadians from discrimination.
The NDP has put some numbers to the costs of its not-so tough-on-crime agenda but really it’s just an election document, so surely won’t translate into reality.
There’s a focus on preventing crime, which seems the opposite of the Tories’ build-more-prisons approach. Judge for yourself if any of these things will work. Note, there’s no mention of the gun registry and nary a word (and this isn’t a crime but still a justice issue) on the process for appointing judges to the Supreme Court of Canada.