Justice Minister Irwin Cotler had the opportunity to do something positive to stem the rising tide of crime in our cities this week with Bill C-70, the act designed to amend the Criminal Code to restrict the blindly stupid use of conditional sentences in our provincial courts.
But, as with everything this Liberal government does, he booted the opportunity. The bill does nothing it is being touted as doing. Nothing.
And for some reason, MADD is applauding this sleight of hand by Cotler. After generating over 30,000 names on a petition to get the fed's attention on this issue, they are pleased when he says he is doing something about it, but does nothing.
Conditional sentences were first foisted on an unsuspecting country back in the mid-90s. Ostensibly, the concept was to give judges an alternative to jail in cases that were non-violent in nature and where there were circumstances that indicated the accused would benefit from a non-custodial sentence. In concept, it was still meant to follow the other provisions on sentencing in the Criminal Code in which the protection of the public was a salient factor.
But something happened along the way to allow the courts to give conditional sentences for all manner of crimes even manslaughter. Despite calling this Bill an "initiative to restrict the use of conditional sentences for violent crimes," it doesn't.
Apart from banning the use of conditional sentences for anything terrorism or organized crime related, this new Bill C-70 gives judges all the wriggle room they need to ensure the status quo is maintained when he wrote in the phrase, "exceptional circumstances." Perhaps MADD forgot to read that part or maybe they actually trust these guys.
In many municipalities, voters are gearing up for local elections next week. Listening to talk radio and reading the papers, it seems quite clear that crime and high taxes are the main issues this time around. Admitedly, it is the federal government that can do the most on those two issues .
Unfortunately for the voters, the last election was hijacked by the spin doctors and they managed to convince the electorate that the election was all about protecting public health care and Stephen Harper was scary. And a majority of Canadian lemmings bought it.
There is another election coming soon. The Liberals are gearing up for it already and the bill introduced by Cotler is designed to convince the country that they are getting tough on crime. But, when one actually scratches beneath the surface, it's clear it is the same old stuff. All sizzle, no steak.
One hopes the electorate, and MADD, figure this out before the writ is dropped.