Bill C-10 / Conservative government / cost of prison / Criminal Justice Policy / government / justice / law / legislation / prison / prison expansion / Stephen Harper / Vic Toews

Vic Toews and the League of Imaginary Crime Fighters

So this is rich: the Conservatives are taking credit for the falling crime rate. On July 24, after Statistics Canada reported that police-reported crime was at its lowest level in 40 years, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews tweeted “Crime rate down 6% – shows CPC tough on crime is working. Rate is still 208% above 1962 levels, more work for our gov’t to do.”

I couldn’t really understand how Bill C-10, which doesn’t even begin to come into force until August 9 of this year, could somehow be responsible for a drop in crime in previous years. But the narrative seemed familiar, so I did some research. Go onto the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), and look up the plot summary for The Terminator: “A human-looking, apparently unstoppable cyborg (or in this case, Public Safety Minister) is sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor (or in this case, crime).”

Or maybe Toews wasn’t referring to Bill C-10 and its punishment agenda, but instead was talking about all of the humane and effective crime prevention strategies that the Harper government has initiated during its tenure in office. Like…or maybe…just give me a minute. Never mind, back to The Terminator.

Using this theory, I can also finally make sense of Stockwell Day’s infamous “unreported crime” comment. At a press conference in August of 2010, Day tried to justify spending $9 billion to build new prisons by saying, “We’re very concerned… about the increase in the amount of unreported crimes that surveys clearly show are happening.”

Reporters were openly incredulous, and Statistics Canada was quick to jump in and point out that the surveys Day had cited did not support such an extreme claim. And I remember thinking at the time, that even if Day’s statement had been accurate, unreported crime, by virtue of being unreported, would have no impact on prison populations. His logic is somewhat akin to building an addition on your house so your imaginary friends can have sleepovers.

What made the whole situation even more laughable/infuriating was when Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s office chimed in to say that “We do not use statistics as an excuse not to get tough on criminals.” This seems to be a tried and true Harper formula: fudge the facts in order to bolster your position and hope that no one notices. If someone does notice and calls you on it, dismiss the actual facts as being irrelevant or worthy of contempt, or worse yet “soft on crime.”

But I digress. My point is that my negativity, and my fears that the Conservatives were (and are) distorting facts and fear mongering to gain public support for their crime agenda, are all in the past. Sure, until recently I thought it was ridiculous that in 2010 the government was so concerned about unknown crime that it was willing to spend billions on new prison construction, and just two years later they say they won’t spend a penny on new prisons.

And maybe it seemed like a contradiction that Harper would enact so many unnecessary, ineffective and harsh laws when the crime rate was dropping, or that his government would claim positive results for legislation that has not yet been enacted. But that’s because I didn’t have all of the information.

Now I understand. The future Toews and his League of Imaginary Crime Fighters (as my friend Pete likes to call them) went back to 2010 to eliminate the scourge of unreported crime, and then traveled forward to 2012 to pat themselves on the back for the low crime rate. See? It’s just that simple.



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