Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crime and Conservatives

In the course of my daily prowl through the news and blogs online I came across this, posted last week by David Climenhaga. link

Perhaps unsurprisingly it matched a few thoughts of my own I was considering for this blog, and thus I may as well put it out there today. First of all I would like to point out that my MP is Rob Anders, and a better way to drive moderate conservatives, or anyone politically aware, away from the Conservative Party of Canada would be hard to imagine. That said he has won the riding here by significant majorities since replacing Harper in this seat. As a testament to the power of the CPC brand here in Alberta, and the failure of the Liberals to make inroads, there could hardly be a better example.

Mr. Anders sends out regular public mailings, both the parliamentary '10-percenters' and Constituency notices. There are only ever two topics for these mailings - crime and attacking the Liberals. The latter have focused on the 'just visiting' campaign and threatening me with Liberal tax hikes, both of which I find offensive but are not relevant to this post. What fascinates me, much like Mr. Climenhaga, are the mailings on crime and the criminal justice system.

Every single one of the mail-outs on crime is a ridiculous straw man. Every one. "Criminals don't register their guns, why should you", or variations on the theme of 'do you think criminal should be punished or immediately released without penalties'. I think all Canadian parties agree that there should be consequences for breaking the law. I would also think that appealing to criminal behaviour to justify ignoring laws you may not like isn't the strongest argument you could make.

Many people will remember the attacks on Paul Martin (link) that stemmed from this mindset. Mr. Martin, whatever his manifold failings as Prime Minister or leader of the Liberal party, is a father and a grandfather. The suggestion that he, or anyone in Parliament, does not wish to see child pornographers caught and punished is both a disgusting personal attack and mendacious.

In short I am profoundly irritated by the simplistic efforts of conservative politicians to pretend that only they understand and have correct views on crime and the criminal justice system. No single party or group is the sole source of truth or good ideas on any complex topic! Even more importantly the distinctions between positions that these sort of mailings appeal to is almost entirely fallacious. The real differences in policy terms at this time, between the Liberals and Conservatives especially, is very small. The substitution of rhetoric for fact in an attempt to create a distinction is both unpleasant and misleading.

*For those who are interested the recent Statistics Canada release on crime is here.

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