The evidence on the crime rate in Canada is out!
Statistics Canada reported yesterday that rate of crimes reported to Canadian police forces across the country reached its lowest level last year. The incidents of serious crimes also dropped. By six per cent. That’s for most offences, including attempted murders, sexual assaults, major assaults, robberies, motor vehicle thefts and break-ins.
In a grotesque twist to this important revelation, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews tried to claim credit for the decline. The stats suggests that the Harper Conservatives’ Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10) is working, according the National Post.
Toews even bragged about it on Twitter:
— Vic Toews (@ToewsVic) July 24, 2012
“Rate is still 208% above 1962 level.” OK. Whatever. The point is: Bill C-10 did not affect the 2011 stats. The bill passed in the House of Commons only in December, 2011. It received Royal Assent in March, 2012.
The Conservatives love statistics only when they came manipulate them. But their disdain for statistics and evidence is legendary.
Still, I’ve got to ask some of the numerous questions I asked during my recent hunger strike against the Safe Streets and Communities Act.
Why the tough-on-crime agenda, Mr. Harper? Specifically, why the omnibus crime Bill C-10? If the crime rate is continuing its “long-term downward trend”, why the hell would right-wing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford want to exile criminals to Scarberia? And, finally, does tightening the noose around Canada’s youth when youth crimes are going down make any moral sense?
StatsCan reports that the youth crime rate also continued to decline: “Police reported that just over 135,600 youth aged 12 to 17 were accused of a crime in 2011, about 18,000 fewer than the previous year. Both the youth crime rate and the youth CSI declined 10%. Decreases in youth crime occurred among the most serious types of crime. Rates of major assault and robbery declined 4% from 2010 and the youth homicide rate fell 16%. A total of 46 youth were accused of homicide in 2011, 10 fewer than in 2010. Since 2001, the overall youth CSI has declined 22%. However, the decline in the severity of youth violent crime over this time period was a more modest 3%.”
Bill C-10’s sweeping changes to Canada’s youth justice system is an assault on our future. Longer and tougher sentences on young and first timers will punish our youth. They will grow tomorrow’s hardened criminals who, upon re-entry into society, will make our communities and streets more unsafe. Even for those the Conservatives’ tough-on-crime agenda purports to protect.
What kind of society are we allowing ourselves to become? Most inmates in our jail system are incarcerated for crimes rooted in poverty, economic inequality, lack of opportunity, inadequate social services and historical prejudice.
Most importantly, Bill C-10 legalizes racial discrimination in every aspect of social, economic and political life. There’s an implicit yet undeniable New Jim Crow–style racism is imbedded into the legislation. More blacks and aboriginals, already oversubscribed in the incarcerated population, will populate the law’s inevitable mega jails.
Aboriginals already constitute 4 per cent of the Canadian population, but up to 22 per cent of the country’s prison population. Canada experienced a 50 per cent increase of black inmates in the last 10 years. These “felons of color” are discriminated against in access to education, the right to vote, employment, and public benefits.
Some highlights from the StatsCan Report:
- Males continued to account for the majority of accused persons
- Since 1991, rate of males charged with violent crime has dropped by 32%
- Since 1991, rate of women charged with violent crime has risen 34%
- Ontario, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick recorded lowest crime rates by province/territory
- Toronto, Ottawa, Guelph and Quebec City, Toronto recorded the lowest crime rate by city
- Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg recorded the highest city crime rate
- North West Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon have highest province/territory crime rate
The Conservatives tough-on-crime agenda and crime legislation like Bill C-10 seek to privatize significant aspects of Canada’s jail system. To allow private companies to profiteer. Recently, Bird Construction Inc., a Toronto-based construction company associated with Enbridge, was awarded the contract to build the $38.5-million North East Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Nova Scotia.
Leading U.S. prison profiteering companies are salivating. One, GEO Group Inc., lobbied the Public Safety Minister and other Canadian officials. So reveals a memo obtained by Bloomberg News under Canada’s freedom-of-information laws. The company lobbied Toews through Patrick Gagnon, a managing partner with the lobbying firm The Parliamentary Group. This record on the website of the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada confirms it.