I am writing this letter in response to Brian Litzenberger’s piece “Conservatives on Right Track” that was printed in The Morning Star.
In his piece Mr. Litzenberger makes the following points in support of the Conservative government and its omnibus crime bill:
• That the bill followed due parliamentary process and was not rushed as the media touts;
• That 37,000 lawyers are against the bill because if all the criminals were locked up in jail lawyers would but out of work.
To his first point I would argue that the bill was in fact rushed. The omnibus crime bill contains nine bills that had failed to pass through previous Parliaments in addition to major revisions to several existing laws.
The Conservatives put all these pieces of legislation into one take-it-or-leave-it act. The Conservative government also enacted closure which prevented sufficient debate from taking place in the House of Commons.
To his second point I would argue that it is ridiculous to suggest that 37,000 lawyers are against the bill because the bill would leave them without work. If anything the omnibus crime bill creates more work for lawyers as more individuals get treated as criminals and thus put through the legal system.
I would suggest that these lawyers are opposed to the bill because the court system is already stressed with an overwhelming amount of cases in comparison to the amount of resources available.
Mr. Litzenberger concludes his piece by stating that “when our pensioners receive better treatment and care than prisoners do, then we will be getting closer to being a just society.” I wholeheartedly agree with this point but I disagree that Mr. Harper’s agenda brings us any closer to being the just society the letter writer describes.
Mr. Harper is planning on spending over 11 billion dollars on the construction of prisons to help house the influx of prisoners that the omnibus crime bill is sure to produce.
In order for Mr. Harper to finance these huge expenditures he will have to make drastic cuts to services and pensions that seniors rely heavily upon. In Davos, Switzerland Mr. Harper announced his intentions to reform OAS and GIS to make them more ‘sustainable.’
The Conservative government is considering several measures including raising the age Canadians can receive the OAS benefits from 65 to 67. By changing the age of eligibility, vulnerable seniors would see a reduction of benefits nearing $30,000. In this speech, Harper also commended his own efforts to reduce health care spending even though he said that he would do no such thing during the May election campaign
In closing, I believe that the Conservative government is on the wrong track with its omnibus crime bill.
I believe that it is bad policy to spend billions of dollars on constructing prisons at a time when the crime rate is decreasing and the deficit is increasing.
These funds should instead be used on providing services and higher education for youth. This would be a more proactive approach to preventing crime and would also make our youth more competitive in the global economy.
Kendall Hammond, Vernon