Eighteen Reasons to Speak out and Call MPs today about C-10

KILL BILL C10 banner by Omnibuster G Tucker for It Could Get Worse

Hello Omnibusters! The Big day has come! Today, when you go to call or e-mail your MP, back it up with a few key points about why this bill must not pass! Personalize your message, include your own story or research, but feel free to use any combination of these points from It Could Get Worse and other sources (CBC, Rabble, John Howard Society, CBA, CCLA, etc.)

See the related post “Justice is Calling” for which MPs are on the Justice Committee that we urge you to call today. “Calling is effective, it really works,” attests MP Laurin Liu, who opposes the Omnibus Bill C-10 because “it doesn’t help victims, it only creates new ones.”

It Could Get Worse – Don’t let it! Call your MP today.

1)    Hi I’m _____ from _____(feel free to say where you grew up, i.e. “Saint John, New Brunswick” or say Montréal. Non-voting Canadians and non-residents can call too. Anyone can call the MPs on the Justice Committee and be heard! List below.)

2)    This bill needs serious reconsideration and should be dropped entirely in order to focus on preventative measures, not punitive ones

3)    Republican governors and state legislators in such states of Texas, South Carolina, and Ohio are repealing mandatory minimum sentences, increasing opportunities for effective community supervision, and funding drug treatment because they know it will improve public safety and reduce taxpayer costs,” said Tracy Velázquez, executive director of the Washington-based Justice Policy Institute. (CBC)

4)    Keeping a person in prison costs $100,000 a year. This is far more than it takes to help people get education, housing, and mental health services that are really needed to stop crime.

5)    Canada’s aboriginal people already represent up to 80 per cent of inmates in institutions in the Prairies, a national embarrassment that Bill C-10 will make worse.

6)    Scaling back on house arrest! That’s crazy! Canadian Bar Association attests.
7)    Eighty per cent of my students are criminals under this legislation. About 10 to 20 per cent of them would be liable to a mandatory minimum sentence in a federal penitentiary of two years for simply passing a tab of ecstasy at a party on university campus,” said Eugene Oscapella, a lawyer who was a founding member of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy and has appeared many times before Canadian Parliamentary committees on drug policy issues.

8)    Federal spending on corrections in Canada has gone up from $1.6 billion in 2005-06, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives took power, to $2.98 billion in 2010-11. That’s an increase of 86 per cent. Soon, it will double.

9)    If mandatory sentences for small crimes and repeat offenses are instituted, the system overload will be tremendous. Already there are not enough lawyers available to do legal aid for people who are accused and cannot afford representation. This will result in the poorest and most disadvantaged people being stuck in a cycle of crime and kept at the margins of society.

10) 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.

11) Increased privatization, which will make prisons more and more independent from a responsible government approach to monitoring the conditions in those prisons.

12) There is nothing in the bill that will improve the likelihood of people rehabilitating after incarceration, and no funding is planned for improving rehabilitation services.

Three reasons from the John Howard Society of Manitoba:

13)  Preventative programs are more effective at fighting crime than blindly lengthening prison sentences; Bill C-10 contains no provisions to better fund prevention programmes, which the Harper Government has already started cutting;

14)  Cost: in the US, the cost of running the prison system has gone up 600% in the last 30 years without any real impact on crime rates.

15) Social cost: The prison-focused system creates more and more social and economic inequalities;”Putting people in jail for longer periods of time keeps them away from their families and communities, and they’re away from their responsibilities, making it harder for them to reintegrate into society.” – John Hutton, Nov 2011

Below are six broad points where the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is most concerned about the impact of this Bill:

16. Broad and vague amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act: Amendments give a very broad mandate to deny any foreign national a work permit and do not specify what factors would be used to target an individual as ‘at risk’ of being exploited.  It is also poor public policy to punish foreign individuals who are vulnerable to abuse as opposed to addressing the Canadian employers who exploit these populations.
17. Hollow expansion for the rights of victims: Both torture and terrorism are serious crimes of international concern.  Numerous Canadian victims of torture have been unable to access meaningful justice in Canadian courts– and yet the government has chosen only to make these amendments available to victims of terrorism.  Even victims of terrorism would have to have their cases ‘pre-approved’ by the government, which has the ability to decide which governments can and cannot be sued.  Canada should not play politics with victims of torture and terrorism.
18. Unconstitutional use of mandatory minimums: The use of mandatory minimums for broad and vague underlying offences may result in the imposition of unjust, grossly disproportionate sentences.  The drug provisions include low-level drug offences – producing as little as six marihuana plants – and extremely broad aggravating factors which would target all those who rent or live in a house they do not own.
The child pornography provisions criminalize, and would impose mandatory minimum jail sentences, for the consensual, legal sexual activities of youth and young adults.  There is little evidence that mandatory minimums provide any deterrent impact, enhance community safety or lower crime rates.  There is also little evidence to suggest that they will significantly impact sentences for the most serious offenders – who are already being sentenced to significant amounts of jail time by the judiciary.  Rather they will handcuff the judiciary, preventing them from responding to unique facts and exceptional personal circumstances.
>> Read CCLA’s op-ed on this question “Mandatory Minimum Sentences Are Just Plain Wrong

19. Prison conditions and disparate impact of amendments on aboriginal peoples and persons requiring mental health care:  The proposed will amendments greatly increase the prison population, and are likely to have a disproportionate and devastating impact on already-marginalized communities – particularly Aboriginal peoples and those with mental health needs.  These populations are already greatly over-represented in correctional institutions, and existing programs and services are already ineffective and insufficient to keep up with general demand.

1 Comment

  • Emmy

    Thanks guys, I just about lost it liokong for this.

    9 Dec