How Harper can be hard on crime.

The simple answer as to why Prime Minister Harper keeps bringing up crime and punishment is because it is so easy. Like much of his right-wing ideology, it preys on ignorance. It is rhetoric without reason. It is mindless cant.

And better yet, he knows he can get away with it. At a time when violent crimes against people are greatly reduced, Harper says we have to have harsher sentences for this type of crime. How do you argue against his stand without seeming soft on crime? He wants to build more prisons and it is tough to object—if he would close the dreadful old gaols that should have come under the wrecking ball many years ago.

The problem that Tories have with crime is clearly demonstrated by Harper’s Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews. He has introduced more than his share of the more than 60 anti-crime bills brought to parliament by the Tories since 2006. The only things these bills share is that they are usually misnamed, misunderstood and mishandled.

Toews should always be pictured with a pitchfork as the quintessential Canadian Gothic. He is the guy who said if you do not support his electronic surveillance bill, you support the pornographers. Vic Toews also repeated former Harper minister of public safety, Stockwell Day’s observation that Canada needs more prisons because of the increase in unreported crimes.

You get the feeling about Toews that he must be convinced that if he keeps screwing up these crime bills, Harper will have no choice but to appoint him to the bench in Manitoba. We sincerely hope, when that happens, that all his cases have to do with business law and nobody ever appears before him for stealing a loaf of bread. Toews might try to have the person hung.

The Conservative attempts to explain their ‘tough on crime’ solutions have been described by some lawyers and academics as political marketing. They also have to note that the Harper Conservatives do not seem to worry about being too rational in their pitch. This is probably because the audience for such claptrap are already Conservative voters. If it is marketing, it would be like the automobile advertisements that are directed at people who have already purchased that model car. The manufacturers want to keep that user sold on the purchase.

There is a solid, but thankfully not large, body of right-wing voters who see people who are not in tune with society, because of poverty or lack of judgement, as a threat to them personally. They never want to have to deal with these people. As Charles Dickens claims Ebenezer Scrooge asked: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

There are still people like Scrooge among us. Conservatives use their ignorance.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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