I know that in the current political climate there is little chance of anyone with a dissenting opinion having that opinion heard, but if you don't try you can't complain, right? That's why I have modified a form letter on the Green Party website and sent it to my M.P., Michelle Rempel, in the hope that maybe, just maybe, enough constituents will complain that the Harper Government will consider a few modifications to their omnibus crime bill before passing the bad with the good.
Dear M.P. Rempel,
I am a voting constituent in your riding, and as such I would like to clearly express to you my concerns with and opposition to Bill C-10 – the omnibus crime bill.
This legislation is severely flawed. There are of course some parts of the Bill that are worthwhile, but I believe that many of the others will only undermine, overburden, and shame our entire system and ideal of justice in Canada. I do not believe that a teenager convicted of possession of a few pot plants should be treated more harshly than someone convicted of sexually molesting a child.
In Canada we have a correctional system, not a penal system. I do not believe mandatory minimum sentences serve the best interests of justice. This legislation will fill our jails with people who should not be there, costing the tax payers far more money than it is worth for relatively minor, non-violent crimes. My idea of a good, honest, decent Canadian society does not jive with the idea that there is a one-size-fits-all approach under which, by law, no extenuating circumstances may ever be considered (even though, of course, they will still exist), or that minors should be publicly identified and therefore hounded and humiliated by the media, blogs, and peers in a manner that they will never be able to escape even long after they have served their time.
I have seen the news reports from the United States. I know this approach to justice has been tried there, and it has failed. They have by far the highest rate of incarceration per capita in the world, roughly 25% higher than than Rwanda and over 30% ahead of Russia, who hold the second and third spots, respectively; see the International Centre for Prison Studies website at
where we rank 128th in the world for percentage of incarcerated population. This is a list I have no desire to watch Canada climb, especially at a period when the crime rates are as low as they've ever been in your and my lifetimes.
Furthermore, as a taxpayer, I am very concerned with what this legislation is going to cost me. I understand that each new prisoner will cost an additional $108,000 per year of my money. The new prisons that will need to be built to house these extra prisoners will also cost billions more, while creating relatively few long-term job prospects. In this time of deficits, this is not how I want my government to spend my money.
As my representative in Parliament, I am therefore calling on you now to faithfully respect the wishes of your constituents and vote against pushing through Bill C-10.
If by any random sequence of events I get a response or, better yet, some change is effected, I'll post an update....