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Another Tory talking point removed – this time on crime.

I seem to recall a speech or a discussion that Harper made a year or so ago about how the cities had become a lot less safer then when he was a kid. I also seem to recall a lot of people took issue with that, saying the stats didn’t match up to Harper’s perception of things (or perhaps his deliberate attempt to paint that perception politically). Well, that has been borne out by the latest StatsCanada study: the crime rate has dropped to its lowest rate in almost a generation – and all without the Tories much-ballyhooed “tough on crime” bills being passed:

A new study says the national crime rate hit its lowest point in more than 25 years in 2006, driven by a decline in non-violent crime… The national crime rate has declined by about 30 per cent since peaking in 1991.

Now, I don’t expect Harper or his Conservative “law and order” bunch to stop trying to use that theme of how crime is increasing in Canada and that the failure of the opposition parties to pass all of their crime bills will lead to anarchy on the streets, but the facts tell a different tale. Its up to those who oppose some of the measures in these bills as overly harsh or unnecessary to continue to point the facts out to the media and the public over and over again. Do not allow the Tories meme of “our society is a lot unsafer now then it used to be” to go unchallenged.

A blogging PS:

On another note, I’ve been away and unable to do regular blogging or reading in quantity as much as I’d like, but to my blogging colleagues here: If you want to call me a partisan, go ahead, but if you’d bother to read my blogposts at Progressive Bloggers pre-Dec 13/06 (when I officially became a Liberal) and at BlogsCanada, you’ll see I’ve always been a bitter anti-Harper and anti-Conservative. I’ve never denied that charge – I’ve embraced it. However, it appears becoming a Liberal means when I go after Deceivin’ Stephen and his Conservative Keystone Coppers, I’ve all of a sudden become a “partisan”. I suppose that means if I dropped my Liberal affiliation tomorrow and became unaligned again and continue my fierce attacks on the regressive policies of Harper and the Cons., I’d stop being a partisan?

25 comments to Another Tory talking point removed – this time on crime.

  • "I think the major point being lost here is that most if not all of the measures proposed to deal with crime – whether they are "get tough" policies or not – are ineffectual on the actual crime rate while raising costs."

    That sure isn't my point. My point is that Harper is incapable of any reaction but an exaggerated one in dealing with his own delusions about the increased threat of crime.

    My secondary point which follows from the first one, which you haven't effectively disputed, is that for some governments the highly politicized Bush regime's War on Terrorism also fits into the whole crime-fighting framework of government policy. 

    I don't trust Harper the ideologue and control freak to refrain from exploiting any crime issue to ramp up the state's repression of freedoms  and push for greater security

    These points ought to be no-brainers for you to get.  But to help you get it, let's get back to the "wasp" analogy. For someone who's got a phobia about wasps, there's nothing like branding them as terrorists and convincing the owner of the Barn that it's for the barn's own good if the barn is burned down to get rid of those terrorist wasps. LOL.

    The issue here concerns how much one trusts the the judgement of the guy whose in charge of fighting the wasps. I think if Harper is given the slightest excuse he'll go nuts about the whole crime fighting thing.

    Glenn  Fitzgerald.  

  • KC

    What a joke.  Steve L's lame attack on Dion's vote against the anti-terror provisions is so over the top and insulting that it doesnt warrant a response.  Agree with the decision or not, but have no doubt that Dion opposed renewal out of concern for civil liberties.

    Mike – I for one am not satisfied by just waiting for crime rates to drop further.  While "fear" may not be good reason to do things that dont work, its perfectly legitimate to "fear" the threat to ones personal security posed by some criminals.  That threat is real and unacceptably too probable regardless of the trend.  I don't agree with your assessment that these policies are simply window dressing.  It is undeniable logic that a dangerous individual in prison no longer poses a threat to society (unless he escapes).   I dont believe that tough sentences will deter crime but they can remove a dangerous individual from our midst.    

  • steve l

    And the reason Dion helped vote down Harper's March 2007 attempt to extend previous  anti-terrorism measures back is because Dion felt the measures threatened civil liberties. 

    Glenn

    What horse manure. Dion voted against the anti-terrorist measures because those that came on board in the eleventh hour to help him win the Liberal leadership required this of him. We all know who they are.

  • I think the major point being lost here is that most if not all of the measures proposed to deal with crime – whether they are "get tough" policies or not – are ineffectual on the actual crime rate while raising costs. Its bad security and bad policy to raise costs doing something that doesn't work and gives no benefits. All of these policies are "security theatre" as Bruce Schneier puts it – to appear to be doing something to make the public safe, even when you are not. Its about looking good to the voter, tricking them and scaring them into voting for you. Its pure politics of fear and divisions. It is not about actually fighting crime and making the public safer, its about trying to win votes.

    We could, KC, do nothing, not  one thing different than we do now, and the crime rate will continue to fall. The crime rate is driven by demographics, not the law. Demographically, most criminals quit the "criminal lifestyle" when the reach 40. With the Boomers now reaching retirement age, and having reached 40sih around 1990 when the crime rate began to drop, its a pretty easy inference that changes in the population and age distribution are most responsible for the crime rate change. Conversely, the crime rate went up when the Boomers reached their teenage years.

    Steven Levitt makes an even more compelling, though much more controversial, demographic argument in "Freakonomics" – that access to abortion starting in the US in 1973 and Canada in 1969 and 1987 is also a major contributing factor. That is, unwanted children who disproportionately grow up to become criminals in later life, are being aborted as fetuses and never being born. They never grow up to become criminals and the real number of criminals is reduced. Now, I won't argue the morality of that position, but it illustrates that it is changes in society and human demographics that drive crime rates. It is an observation of fact, not a policy position.

    Both of these trends, together, account for the drop in crime rate. Neither of these is anything that can be legislated through sentencing reforms, capital punishment, mandatory minimums or removing parole.

    So yes, we can do nothing, if we choose and crime will continue to fall. But if we choose to do something, it ought to be based on sound science, not fear and doing something for the sake of doing something.

  • Don't feel bad if the edit feature messed up your comment. That feature does have a few bugs.  I have to wrestle with it everytime.

    Glenn

  • "I don’t think much if any of the law and order legislation that Harper has before Parliament has to do with fighting terrorism. I believe most or all of it has to do with domestic common crime, not terrorism."

    Kyle, July 2007
    "After spending the last couple of months opposing every tough-on-crime measure, voting down his own anti-terrorism measures, bashing the police in the House of Commons, he [Dion] now wants to be tough on crime"

    Steven Harper, March 2007

    Harper has  got Bush's war on terroror on the brain.  I wouldn't trust him to address any crime issues.

    And the reason Dion helped vote down Harper's March 2007 attempt to extend previous  anti-terrorism measures back is because Dion felt the measures threatened civil liberties.  Here is what Dion had to say:
    "These two provisions especially have done nothing to fight against terrorism, have not been helpful and have continued to create some risk for civil liberties."

    I'm starting to actually grow fond of Dion, even though I hate most politicians, whatever their ideological bent.  Say what you will, Dion's no idiot. He understands the propensity of a control freak like Harper to instinctively trust any government measure which creates a police state.

    Glenn Fitzgerald

  • KC

    Wow the edit feature really mucks up your comment. 

  • KC

    or Glenn – I don’t think much if any of the law and order legislation that Harper has before Parliament has to do with fighting terrorism.? I believe most or all of it has to do with domestic common crime, not terrorism.

    IfScott – If your argument is that the Tories have said that crime is rising when its not thats fine.? I think you are overstating how many times they have specifically said that crime is rising to justify their policies, but thats fine.??Either way?that has nothing to do with the separate issues of a) whether or not tough on crime legislation is justified by the crime level in Canada and b) whether tough on crime.
    Sure.? Harper can be a real jackass, and he manipulates?information to maximize his chances of electoral success.??Which party hasnt?? The Liberals arent going to?get back into office by telling people that Harper is a manipulative jerk.??? If you dont like Harpers tough on crime policies attack them based on what you see as their lack of merit.?? Dont get into a pissing match over whether crime is going up or down.? Its irrelevant.?

  • " I think you are confusing altering procedures for finding someone guilty of an offence with changing the penalty that result if they are found guilty."

    No, my central point is that the Harper reaction to law and order issues regarding crime will be to use new laws to address the crime of, " terrorism."

    As the ideological war-horse which he is, Harper is incapable of measured responses to crime which exist apart from Bush's war on terror.

    I don't think Harper is capable of measured responses to the issue of profit motivated street crime. He is an ideologue.

    Glenn Fitzgerald.

  • "I've seen the serious consequences of violent crime visited upon victims and the inability of our current justice system to protect society from reoffenders. "

    Yea, but as I remarked about your analogy before, the Harper response law and order response to control crime will also address the larger alleged threat of terrorism in Canada. And so, one can fairly expect that new laws will follow the course of American hyper-reaction and severely curtail Canadian freedoms, perhaps for good.

    It's not worth it.

    And anyway to drastically reconstruct our political system to address a few terrorist "wasps" is to give victory to the wasps. Bin Laden must now be laughing at the  sillyand reactionary White House and it's gullible following of Americans.

    Glenn Fitzgerald.

  • Kyle: I dont know how much clearer I can be, but I’ll state it for you again – I’ve stated that the Tories have put out the meme (not just a few misguided individuals either, the Conservative Party and Harper have specifically stated this lie) that crime levels are worse then they used to be, and that therefore justifies certain type of laws that are similar to US laws and ones pushed by Republicans – minimum level sentencing to give you your specific example of what I dislike amongst Harper’s legislation since you demand I be specific..

    The FACTS on crime stats in Canada today show that to be otherwise, Kyle.. and what I’m saying is that the truth of the matter needs to be pointed out over and over again that “tough on crime” specific policies that are geared NOT to lower the crime rate, but to give (in my opinion) Harper and his party a propaganda meme of being the “law and order party” based on a total lie should be rejected and not passed on that basis. If you want to pass stuff like this.. you’ll need to present a legit argument, not one based on a lie.

    As for this inference Kyle, that I somehow said we “shouldnt do more” to combat crime, I’ll note (and you should well know this) that the Liberals offered to pass a fair bit of the crime legislation that they agreed with or felt were acceptable while continuing to debate the not-so-good parts (in their opinion) but Harper refused. He wouldnt want to remove that talking point of the Liberals being weak on law and order.

  • KC

    I think you are confusing altering procedures for finding someone guilty of an offence with changing the penalty that result if they are found guilty.  I have never suggested here that we should do pre-sentencing with respect to alleged criminals.  You get the same trial, the same right to examine evidence, the same right to counsel, the same right to an independant judicary, the same right to the presumption of innocence and the same rights against unlawful search, seizure and detention. 

    What I am advocating is increasing penalties after all of that has been said and done.  None of the safeguards should be derogated from one bit. 

  • A revision for Kyle:

    "What if bringing the number of wasps in a barn down to four from five or six means building a grill around the barn which imprisons both the legitmate and illlegitimate (ie: wasps)inhabitants in the barn with no easy access in our out? "

    My attempted analogy  meant to imply that the legitimate inhabitants of the barn aren't wasps.

    Glenn Fitzgerald.

  • Kyle writes:

    "As for your arguments I would say that you are underestimating the damage a few wasps can cause, and I question what you mean by a "legitimate" wasp.    A wasp is a wasp. "

    Fine,  but let's also not underestimate the damage the disproportionate response to a few wasps can cause. Those elements within Canadian society—the "wasps" as it were—which might foment terrorism remain extremely marginal, at best expectation.

    Let's take our warning from the disproportional American response to the few "wasps" in the American "barn" and not burn down the structure (wage war on what little democracy we have)  to get to them.

    If my analogy follows true, and I think it does, the "wasps" in the case of the U.S happen to be alleged terrorists. 

    And for those few terrorists, the homeland security's war on terror has lashed out witlessly in three major wars against bogus targets in Iraq, Afghanistan ( I don't think that war was ever necessary, and Somalia ( the overstated American fears of al-Qaeda there amount to a psychotically defined farce). 

    And as an increasing number of Republicans have too late begun to realize, the American Homeland Security has brought the U.S republic to the brink of financial and political catastrophe.

    Glenn Fitzgerald.

  • KC

    Thats not a fallacy in my argument.  It is what you see as an incorrect assessment of the evidence regarding whether or not tough on crime actually serve to reduce crime.    My dispute with Scott's argument never presumed that tough on crime policies work.  I believe they can but that is not the issue. 
    The true logical fallacy is that advanced by Scott–that the trend in crime rather than the gross numbers is what should be determinative as to whether further steps are taken to reduce crime.  He is begging the question. 

  • KC

    Glenn – Thats not Scott's argument.  He hasnt even gone as far as you have to identify why specifically tough on crime policies don't achieve their goal or have such disproportionate negative consequences as to make them unjustifiable.   You have.  You've (at least) stated that a) there are better ways of "encouraging the few wasps which remain… to leave", and b) tough on crime policies have serious consequences that need to be considered (ie imprisoning "legitimate" wasps–whatever that means).  That is markedly better logic then "the need for tough on crime policies is undermined by the fact that crime–while still unacceptably high–is falling".  

    As for your arguments I would say that you are underestimating the damage a few wasps can cause, and I question what you mean by a "legitimate" wasp.    A wasp is a wasp.   They all pose a danger regardless of their reasons for being a wasp.   While some wasps stories may evoke more empathy than other seems irrelevant to me as long as they continue to put the security of others at risk.   I've seen the serious consequences of violent crime visited upon victims and the inability of our current justice system to protect society from reoffenders.   While 'tough on crime' policies may not serve as a deterrent they can, if done properly, remove the high risk individual until such time as they no longer pose a risk.  Personally I dont think that perpetrators of serious violent and sexual offences have ever truly paid their debt to society.   We should be seeking more dangerous offender designations (which is why I like Harper's reverse onus proposal)  where release is based on the individual posing no further risk (determined judicially with necessary constitutional safeguards of course–access to an attorney, etc.)  rather than based on some arbitrary date. 

  • Kyle writes:

    “No I think you are misrepresenting the law and order argument based on a few instances where advocates have gone over the top and stated that crime levels are rising.”

    The central fallacy of your argument—the fallacy that your analogy so well illustrates—is that you have made a misplaced and unrealistic assumption about what Harper’s solution might be to further reduce crime.

    I think any law and order solution that this government implements will draw from the heavy handed, drastic, and anti-democratic measures the Bush administration has used to fight its bogus war on, “terrorism.” Already, Harper’s chief bone-head of a security expert, what’s his name (I forget), plans to introduce national ID cards (the hall mark of a police state).

    To use such methods to address such a minimal difference in the statistics is really quite mad.

    Glenn Fitzgerald.

  • KC

    No I think you are misrepresenting the law and order argument based on a few instances where advocates have gone over the top and stated that crime levels are rising.   The true crux of the Tory argument, and the argument of anyone who supports all or part of what they are doing with respect to crime is that the level of crime out there is unacceptable overall.   The fact that crime rates are lower doesn't make current levels of crime acceptable.   They are still to high regardless of the trend.  Advocates of tough on crime legislation don't need to prove that crime rates are rising to justify their endeavours.  The overall amount of it suffices.    The fact that sometimes proponents go over the top and make incorrect assertions does nothing to detract from the case in favour of taking a hard line with respect to crime.    You'll find the same with almost any political debate (ie marijuana is completely harmless, George Bush is comparable to Hitler, the Liberals are corrupt to their core, corporations are evil) but none detracts from the objective validity of the overall argument. 
     
    I'm not trying to get you "annoyed", I am telling you when I think you are wrong.  Its called debate. 

  • Kyle writes:

    “But saying that falling or lower than in the past crime rates means we shouldn’t do more (and before you say “tough on crime policies dont work” please see above). If I have 500 wasps in my office and by doing this that and the other thing I manage to get that number down to 100 or 50 or even 10 I dont think I would proclaim success and stop trying to get that number lower.”

    Kyle, that argument just doesn’t wash. To begin with, you ought to use more realistic numbers to make your example correspond to real life.

    What if bringing the number of wasps in a barn down to four from five or six means building a grill around the barn which imprisons both the legitmate and illlegitimate (ie: wasps)inhabitants in the barn with no easy access in our out?

    I would say, let’s find some less drastic way of encouraging the few wasps which remain in the barn to leave.

    You have to search for more relevant examples to support your argument.

    I agree with Scott.

  • That is NOT the same as saying we “shouldn’t do more”, Kyle. Give me a break. I am saying we need to bring up the stats and the facts to combat the mis-perception meme that the Tories are attempting to put out there of the fact our streets arent safer, therefore we need to impose this and this and this.

    Seriously Kyle.. do you argue with me because you’re trying to play devil’s advocate, or are you attempting to get me annoyed with you on purpose?

  • KC

    You link the issues though Scott.    You say that those of us (those of you) who oppose the bills need to keep bringing up the fact that crime rates are dropping.      

  • I dont see anywhere in my blogpost, Kyle, where I said we shouldn't do more to combat crime. You're putting words into my mouth (or in this case, my blogposts) that I certainly didnt make.

    I have issues with aspects of Harper's legislation that I oppose or that I feel are misguided.

     That's not the same as saying "we shouldn't do more"

  • KC

    I've always found the argument that since crime rates are lower than they were in the past, or that they are dropping to be such a fallacious argument.  Try to argue that "tough on crime" policies dont work.  Sure.  That is a valid argument.   I would argue against you but at least it is reasoned debate. 

    But saying that falling or lower than in the past crime rates means we shouldn't do more (and before you say "tough on crime policies dont work" please see above).   If I have 500 wasps in my office and by doing this that and the other thing I manage to get that number down to 100 or 50 or even 10 I dont think I would proclaim success and stop trying to get that number lower.   Its the same thing with crime.  Crime may be lower than it was ten years ago but there is still too much crime around.  People are still being assaulted, and sexually abused, and are still having their homes broken into. 

    Disagree with tough on crime policies sure.  Thats fair.   But don't argue that we shouldnt do more because crime is at a low.  There is no acceptable level of crime where no further actions and policies are required.  

    Saying that newly released statistics relating to crime rates somehow disproves the need for tough on crime policies doesnt follow in my mind.  

  • slg

    Hmmmm…..another accomplishment of the Liberals – 30% down since 1991.  Harper's crime package hasn't been implemented and not all passed yet I don't think – he had absolutely NOTHING to do with it.

    Harper was using gangs, guns and crime and a fear mongering tactic much like Bush does.  Actually, the US didn't do well at all in this regard so it makes you wonder why so-called intelligent Deceivin Stephen would try to use the US model.

  • Scott writes:

    “Iíve never denied that charge – Iíve embraced it. However, it appears becoming a Liberal means when I go after Deceiviní Stephen and his Conservative Keystone Coppers, Iíve all of a sudden become a ‘partisan’.”

    Whoever thinks that your criticism of Harper signifies a partisan bent should become acquainted with the concept of putting truth to argument. If you have reason to denounce a politician, that reason based criticism makes you a truth teller—not a partisan. Duh!

    And it just so happens that I’ve personally read enough of your critical comments against this bone-headed idealogue (Steven Harper) to know that you have simply put truth to argument. It is especially a REAL conservative would have no use for him.

    Partisan, indeed.

    The next thing you know, they’ll be alleging the partisanship of those who rightly denounce Conrad Black.

    Glenn Fitzgerald.

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