Posts Tagged ‘Bill C-10’

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting continues to raise the alarm over threats to our nation’s public broadcaster and well they should. While Heritage Minister James Moore promised in May to maintain and expand support for the CBC, Tory antipathy to the CBC is well known. Recent initiatives, such as the petition by Tory MP Rob Enders to end CBC funding cast doubt on the Tory pledge to support the CBC. (His surname says it all, eh?)

Because Harper is a notorious control freak, no Tory backbencher who wanted to keep getting nominated would post a petition of this sort without his blessing. This has to be taken seriously.

The Friends have taken a humorous approach in their current attempt to awaken Canadians to the Tory threat. I hope it works.

Under Harper’s majority government, we are beginning to see the unraveling of Canada.

The next four years will be trying times for Canadians who do not want to see our society hideously disfigured. We will have to fight them every step of the way. Take a moment to see how you can begin this by supporting the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

Occupy Winnipeg took its opposition to Bill C-10, the so-called Safe Streets and Communities Act, to Winnipeg’s West End Library and then proceeded to occupy the constituency office of Manitoba’s Justice Minister, Andrew Swan for 24 hours.

Before doing so, an Occupy Winnipeg spokesperson read the November 17, 2011 statement of the Canadian Bar Association entitled “Ten Reasons to Oppose Bill C-10.” My alter ego, Red River Pete, captured some of the moments.

The Canadian Bar Association statement is available at its web site. Or you can read it below.

November 17, 2011

10 Reasons to Oppose Bill C-10

Bill C-10 is titled the Safe Streets and Communities Act — an ironic name, considering that Canada already has some of the safest streets and communities in the world and a declining crime rate. This bill will do nothing to improve that state of affairs, but, through its overreach and overreaction to imaginary problems, Bill C-10 could easily make it worse. It could eventually create the very problems it’s supposed to solve.

Bill C-10 will require new prisons; mandate incarceration for minor, non-violent offences; justify poor treatment of inmates and make their reintegration into society more difficult. Texas and California, among other jurisdictions, have already started down this road before changing course, realizing it cost too much and made their justice system worse. Canada is poised to repeat their mistake.

The Canadian Bar Association, representing over 37,000 lawyers across the country, has identified 10 reasons why the passage of Bill C-10 will be a mistake and a setback for Canada.

1. Ignoring reality. Decades of research and experience have shown what actually reduces crime: (a) addressing child poverty, (b) providing services for the mentally ill and those afflicted with FASD, (c) diverting young offenders from the adult justice system, and (d) rehabilitating prisoners, and helping them to reintegrate into society. Bill C-10 ignores these proven facts.

2. Rush job. Instead of receiving a thorough review, Bill C-10 is being rushed through Parliament purely to meet the “100-day passage” promise from the last election. Expert witnesses attempting to comment on over 150 pages of legislation in committee hearings are cut off mid-sentence after just five minutes.

3. Spin triumphs over substance.
The federal government has chosen to take a “marketing” approach to Bill C-10, rather than explaining the facts to Canadians. This campaign misrepresents the bill’s actual content and ensures that its public support is based heavily on inaccuracies.

4. No proper inspection. Contrary to government claims, some parts of Bill C-10 have received no previous study by Parliamentary committee. Other sections have been studied before and were changed — but, in Bill C-10, they’re back in their original form.

5. Wasted youth. More young Canadians will spend months in custodial centres before trial, thanks to Bill C-10. Experience has shown that at-risk youth learn or reinforce criminal behaviour in custodial centres; only when diverted to community options are they more likely to be reformed.

6. Punishments eclipse the crime. The slogan for one proposal was Ending House Arrest for Serious and Violent Criminals Act, but Bill C-10 will actually also eliminate conditional sentences for minor and property offenders and instead send those people to jail. Is roughly $100,000 per year to incarcerate someone unnecessarily a good use of taxpayers’ money?

7. Training predators. Bill C-10 would force judges to incarcerate people whose offences and circumstances clearly do not warrant time in custody. Prison officials will have more latitude to disregard prisoners’ human rights, bypassing the least restrictive means to discipline and control inmates. Almost every inmate will re-enter society someday. Do we want them to come out as neighbours, or as predators hardened by their prison experience?

8. Justice system overload. Longer and harsher sentences will increase the strains on a justice system already at the breaking point. Courts and Crown prosecutors’ offices are overwhelmed as is, legal aid plans are at the breaking point, and police forces don’t have the resources to do their jobs properly. Bill C-10 addresses none of these problems and will make them much worse.

9. Victimizing the most vulnerable. With mandatory minimums replacing conditional sentences, people in remote, rural and northern communities will be shipped far from their families to serve time. Canada’s Aboriginal people already represent up to 80% of inmates in institutions in the prairies, a national embarrassment that Bill C-10 will make worse.

10. How much money? With no reliable price tag for its recommendations, there is no way to responsibly decide the bill’s financial implications. What will Canadians sacrifice to pay for these initiatives? Will they be worth the cost?

Canadians deserve accurate information about Bill C-10, its costs and its effects. This bill will change our country’s entire approach to crime at every stage of the justice system. It represents a huge step backwards; rather than prioritizing public safety, it emphasizes retribution above all else. It’s an approach that will make us less safe, less secure, and ultimately, less Canadian.

© 2011 The Canadian Bar Association

Nov. 8, 2011: 300 Winnipeggers demonstrated at the Manitoba Legislature and the Winnipeg Remand Centre to urge the Manitoba Government to join Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador in opposing the Harper government’s omnibus crime bill, misleadingly titled the Safe Streets and Communities Act (aka Bill C-10). Their key message, “time does not stop crime” rebutted the government’s contention that locking up more offenders for longer periods was an effective crime prevention technique.

As I noted in an earlier post, the John Howard Society of Manitoba estimates Canadians will pay $2 billion annually to cover the costs of the bill, which calls for mandatory minimum sentences for a wide range of crimes regardless of individual circumstances. While this will trigger a huge increase in the number of inmates and a prison construction boom, it will do nothing to address the root causes of crime, nor will it lead to the rehabilitation of offenders.


  • John Hutton, Executive Director, John Howard Society of Manitoba
  • Shaun Loney – Executive Director,  BUILD
  • Cora Morgan, Executive Director, Onashowewin
  • Tracy Booth, Executive Director, Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba
  • Jacquie Nicholson, Literacy Coordinator, John Howard Society of Manitoba
  • Alex Paterson, Occupy Winnipeg

The protest was sponsored by:

  • BUILD Winnipeg
  • Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Canadian Federation of Students
  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba
  • Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba
  • Initiatives for Just Communities
  • Occupy Winnipeg
  • Ogijiita Pimatiswin Kinamatwin (OPK)
  • Mennonite Central Committee of Manitoba
  • School of Social Work, Université de Saint-Boniface
  • Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
  • Southern Chiefs Organization
  • William (Bill) VanderGraff, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

For more information about C-10, contact the John Howard Society of Manitoba. And let your MP know what you think.

See also:

Nov. 8, 2011: Some of the 300 people who demonstrated in front of the Winnipeg Remand Centre in opposition to the Conservative Government's Omnibus Crime Bill, C-10. Photo: Paul Graham

The John Howard Society of Manitoba estimates Canadians will pay $2 billion annually to cover the costs of Stephen Harper’s omnibus crime bill. Bill C-10, which calls for mandatory minimum sentences for a wide range of crimes regardless of individual circumstances, will trigger a huge increase in the number of inmates and a requirement to build new prisons. It will do nothing to address the root causes of crime, nor will it lead to the rehabilitation of offenders.

Given the onerous cost, most of which will be borne by the provinces, it’s not surprising that the provincial governments of Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland & Labrador have spoken out against the bill. In Winnipeg, the John Howard Society and 13 other agencies held a rally, Nov. 8, to tell the government of Manitoba to do likewise.

I recorded the event and will be producing a program for WCTV in the near future. But in the meantime, here’s a short interview with the executive director of the John Howard Society of Manitoba, John Hutton, in which he outlines some of the major problems with the legislation.