Dear Mr. Oliver,
I imagine that if you are a proponent of the Omnibus Crime Bill, then you believe that it speaks for victims. If your goal is to help victims, to allow them to heal faster, and to ensure that there are fewer victims, then I urge you to engage your colleagues and other members of the Conservative Party to abandon this Bill.
No doubt you are familiar with the many arguments against this Crime Bill. There is, of course, the fact that higher jail terms and mandatory incarceration are not going to reduce crime or recidivism. What is more, incarceration, particularly of people who have little or no criminal history or have not been jailed in the past is likely to increase their chances of recidivism. These are the conclusions reached by study after study that deal with punishment and crime. This consideration, alone, tells us that the Bill is, at best, a waste of resources.
But the Omnibus Crime Bill is more than misguided. It is also enormously costly. How can we justify the billions of dollars that will be spent on what is purely a mechanism for punishment, when our and the world’s economies are in such precarious positions, and when so many of our fundamental institutions are in need of support? How can a government that advocates lower spending throw billions of dollars away in this manner?
You might say that it does not matter if the Bill does not reduce recidivism. You might argue that the cost of the Bill in insignificant when one considers victims’ rights.
If we truly care about victims, let’s take the two steps that are the most likely to help.
If we truly care about victims, if we want to ensure that they feel secure, healed, and empowered, let’s invest in programs and processes that help them heal, feel secure and empowered. Seeing a perpetrator thrown in jail may make people feel that justice has been done, but it does not take away their fear, it does not make them feel secure.
Punishment, throwing people in jail, and looking away, do not make victims feel that they have been heard, or that their loss has, at least, had some positive impact.
But we do have processes that are proven to help victims heal, that include the victim in a meaningful way, and that help victims feel that justice has been done in a way that no harsh sentence and law can. Restorative justice and victim-offender reconciliation programs are powerful and effective means of meeting the needs of victims, while holding offenders accountable for their actions. If we only take a portion of the money required to bring the Crime
Bill into effect and put it toward restorative justice efforts, then we are sure to help victims. What is more, restorative justice is more likely to reduce recidivism, and it will cost much less than the billions of dollars required by this Bill.
Furthermore, rather than focusing on retribution and incarceration, we can take steps that ensure that we have less victims, in the first place. Let’s invest in education, in the health of children, in support for young people and for families, in particular families who live in poverty. Let’s invest in prevention of crime, so that we have less victims.
There is nothing good in a Bill that creates mandatory minimums, removes discretion from judges who have heard all the facts of a case and the circumstances surrounding the facts, focuses simply on punishment, doesn’t do anything to reduce crime, and takes billions of dollars from Canadians and essentially throws it away.
I ask you to please listen to all the criticisms against this Bill. I urge you to dissuade your colleagues from supporting this destructive project. It cannot be easy to stop this fast-moving train, but conscience and ethics demand that you do what is required to stop this Bill.
I hope that I can count on you, my Member of Parliament, to do whatever is possible to take this Bill off the legislative table.