In the last few days a group of provinces have taken a powerful stand against the Conservatives’ cruel Crime Bill. Quebec and Ontario have said that they will not pay the huge costs for a federally imposed fill-the-prisons approach to justice that has failed everywhere it has been tried.1 Many other provinces are pushing back, publicly and privately, against policies that will cost us dearly while creating a revolving door for prisoners.2
From prosecutors to prisons, our provinces and territories are responsible for paying for most of our criminal justice system. If the provinces work together and refuse to pay for the Crime Bill’s costly and ineffective measures, then the federal government will have to go back to the drawing board and negotiate a better way forward.
This is a crucial moment. New Brunswick’s provincial government is weakly supporting the bill, despite concerns about the bill and its costs. We need to speak together right now to show Premier David Alward that his constituents do not want to pay more money to be less safe.
Tell Premier David Alward to refuse to pay for the cruel Crime Bill, and support a Citizen’s Assembly for Canadian Justice
Opposition to this bill is growing across the political spectrum. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Justice Minister, a Conservative named Felix Collins just spoke out and called the Crime Bill a “costly gaffe” that would “undermine democracy.”3
Collins said that "most groups, most experts and most witnesses who have given presentations on this bill would advocate that the federal government is proceeding in the wrong direction, and that this procedure has been tried in other areas before and has proven to be a failure."3
Collins is right about the experts. Take the Canadian Bar Association, which represents 37,000 legal professionals. They strongly criticized the Bill for its "punitive approach to criminal behaviour, rather than a focus on how to prevent that behaviour in the first place, or rehabilitate those who offend."3
And then there’s tough-on-crime Texas. In 2004 Texas had the highest incarceration rate in the world. In 2005 they had a budget crisis. That’s when Texas got serious, and discovered that crime prevention, through drug treatment programs and a host of other proven solutions, is cheaper and more effective than mandatory sentences and other fill-the-prisons policies.4
Texas has learned something that Canadians have known for a long time: it is better to help people be a part of society than it is to pay to force them out.
We need a united provincial alliance. Send a message to your Premier and Justice Minister now to make Canada safer, not meaner.