As a disclaimer, I happen to think that the oft-repeated phrases “tough on crime” and “soft on crime” are near meaningless. Too often, the stuff we’re told is “tough” is either ineffective or damaging (see mandatory minimums and the presumption of guilt), while the stuff we’re told is “soft” would actually lessen the incidence of crime (see the legalization of marijuana).
That being said, the Harper Conservatives want to get “tough,” so let’s get tough. And if we’re going to start somewhere, we might as well start with our own government.
- Stephen Harper’s government is breaking international law. By failing to even try to meet our Kyoto targets, we have turned our back on the world and become an international embarrassment.
- Stephen Harper’s government is breaking domestic law. Parliamentarians, working on behalf of the majority of Canadians, passed a law requiring the government to introduce a plan to meet Kyoto targets. The government flat-out ignored the law.
- The federal Conservatives are accused of breaking election spending limits by $1.2 million during the last federal election campaign, which they only narrowly won. The scheme involved circumventing legal spending limits by funneling money through local campaigns in order to pay for national advertising. Elections Canada is of the opinion that this is not legal. But, just when it was starting to become news, Harper attacked Elections Canada over the almost-non-issue of whether or not Muslim women can be forced to show their faces before voting. The distraction worked (with the added bonus that it made Elections Canada look like the bad guys) and the Conservative AdScam disappeared from public view, just in time for the conservatives to attempt to block a house committee investigation into the potentially illegal spending (which they eventually succeeded in doing by proroguing Parliament.)
- The federal Conservatives are accused of breaking the law with regards to how they collect and use private information about citizens, triggered by the discovery that they had created a list of Jewish Canadians. Their defence has ranged from “we didn’t do it” to “sure we did it but so did those other guys.”
I don’t know how Harper can afford the constant repairs to his glass house. He must have a great arrangement with a window contractor. Regardless, if Harper wants to get tough on crime, he needs to start with himself. Then, once he’s removed the plank from his own eye, we can talk.