Our imaginary reality: falling crime rates and the CBC.

Author:Milner, Arthur
Position:OPINION
 
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Stockwell Day is a very funny man. His best joke came in 2010 when be was Treasury Board president. Spending billions on new prisons was necessary, he said, because of the alarming increase in unreported crime. "Yes," I laughed, "for all the unreported criminals."

If there's one thing that Canadian experts, journalists, academics and letter-to-the-editor writers agree on, it's that the Tories' Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10), passed by the House of Commons a year ago, is a mistake. A quick trek through headlines on the Internet reveals near-unanimity:

* Tory crime bill a solution in search of a problem, criminologists argue

* Lawyers attack Harper's tough-on-crime agenda

* Coalition of churches condemns Ottawa's justice plan

* Health researchers slam Tory mandatory-minimum-sentence proposal

* Tory crime bill will overburden court system: retired judges

* UN criticizes Canada on crime bill and youth

* Texas conservatives reject Harper's crime plan

* Crime bill unfairly targets women, Aboriginals, critics say

* The Conservatives' crime bill: mean, but not lean

* Tory "tough on crime" bill off the mark, SFU researchers say

* More than 550 doctors, professors, social workers sign letter opposing Bill C-10

* Conservative senator says he can't support government crime bill

* Nunavut fears crime bill will overwhelm jails

* 10 reasons to oppose Bill C-10: Canadian Bar Association

* Elizabeth Fry Societies say Conservative bill will not deter crime

* Canada's homicide rate falls to its lowest level in 44 years

* Tory crime bill: Budget Officer slams Conservatives' cost estimate

* Tory crime bill an attack on our liberty

* Crime bill won't actually help them at all, seasoned victims-rights advocate says

* West Vancouver Police boss worries cops will be spending more time in the courts and less time protecting the public.

* Author of Tory-supported study says crime bill goes too far

* Tory crime bill a very strong case for Quebec independence: Parti Quebecois

* Tory crime bill to make matters worse for mentally ill: expert

Apart from some provincial governments--Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and New Brunswick--yea-savers are few and far between:

* Former NHL star supports Tory crime bill

* Macdonald-Laurier Institute study questions StatsCan's crime numbers

Even police support is iffy:

* Police chiefs urge more "balanced approach" while supporting omnibus crime bill

The complete legislation, (1) as adopted by Parliament, is 100 pages long and contains this kind of thing:

16. (1) Subsection 161(1) of the Act is amended by striking out "or" at the end of paragraph (b) and by replacing paragraph (c) with the following ...

So you might want to try the Department of Justice's summation. (2) Ata single page it's far more digestible, but I wouldn't rely on it. We are told, for example, that the Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act "would target organized crime by imposing tougher sentences for the production and possession of illicit drugs for the purposes of trafficking." Who could object to that (unless you're one of those people who believes the war on drugs drives up prices, to the benefit and encouragement of traffickers)?

But if you go back to section 41 of the actual...

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