street crime attracts tons of media attention and above all is easy for MPs to
comment on. It's simple: no complicated numbers, no Byzantine tax laws. What's
easy to understand, gets easy votes.
this fall expect to hear over and over all about illegal drugs (crystal meth is
the flavour of the month); gang violence (especially in high schools); and car
did a dry run with his crime crusade through British Columbia this summer. He was a big
hit in the rural areas which the Conservatives need to hold in the next
last week in the Commons, when the rest of the country was watching Michaelle
Jean and her little daughter stealing our hearts in the Senate chamber, over in
the Commons the Conservatives got down to work.
came up with a "teen sex bill," private member's bill C-313, to prevent
teenagers under 16 from having sex with someone older. (Even petting or
"touching" counts.) Just how much older is still open to amendment. There is
already a law preventing sexual exploitation of children by adults, but that's
not enough for the Conservatives. They want the age of sexual consent raised from
the current 14 to 16.
Conservatives have the backing of the big U.S.
anti-gay groups whose lobbyists were in Canada all summer and still have a
pot full of money to spend.
Life News Web site headlined last week "Amendments to Canadian law to prevent
pederasty likely to be defeated by MPs Wednesday." Readers were told that
"International human rights activists are keeping a close eye on tomorrow's
vote but don't expect any progress as Canada's ruling elite is known to
be lax, at best, on child protection."
know nothing attracts public attention like talking about teens and sex —
always a winning combination.
MP Randy White was up on his feet in the Commons last Tuesday. That's the same
Randy White who caused the party trouble with his "Well the heck with the
courts, eh?" comment during last year's election campaign.
warned that teens are being kidnapped in every major city in Canada and
being forced to do abominable things under pain of gang violence.
everybody know what a sex club is?" White asked. MPs who had been dozing in the
near-empty chamber perked up. "Did he say sex club?" one asked.
"A sex club is young girls doing tricks in
high school," White continued, having gained their attention. "They do a trick
and they get a cap or they get a joint laced with meth or whatever they are
do not see this as prostitution. This kind of stuff is exploitation."
no White tirade would be complete without a run at the real culprits — our
the way, after the lawyer, who is paid by the known drug gang, gets through
defending these thugs, that is when the plea bargaining starts, the deals are
made, and the judge says that he knows the poor little boy kidnapped somebody
and forced the person to deal drugs but had a bad upbringing," White continued.
White had told the Commons "everybody knows the time put in for crimes today is
not what it should be."
we hear comments like: 'We have to use judicial discretion.' We have tried
judicial discretion. It is not working. Just go to British Columbia please, and look at the
record. I can refer to thousands of cases."
Liberals, no fools they, have seen the Great Conservative Crime Crusade coming
and are rushing ahead with a spate of their own anti-crime laws to head the
Conservatives off at the pass.
bills are nicknamed the "Chuck Cadman Legacy Laws" in honour of the former
Opposition MP who voted for them last spring and kept their government in
office before he died of cancer.
law cracks down on street racing by punks with cars in big cities, the other
law is aimed at reducing car theft, both issues that Cadman cared about a great
then the Liberals are bringing in bill C-49 to provide harsher penalties for human
trafficking. It answers to pressure from all sorts of groups — the
International Labour Organiza-tion, UNICEF, as well as conservative elements in
conviction for trafficking in humans (including recruiting, transporting, or
lodging) could get you life; making money off human trafficking (which is aimed
at snakeheads as well as ships' captains) could mean 10 years; and destroying
somebody's passport or travel document to prevent escape is punishable by five
years in jail. So two can play the
law-and-order game, the Liberals have decided. It should make for a long, hot,
angry autumn in the Commons.
Cleroux is a freelance reporter and columnist on Parliament Hill.