A crime victim opposed to Bill C-10: Omnibuster Alexis O’Hara

Inspired by all the great work over at http://www.itcouldgetworse.com , I wrote the letter below and sent it to the 12 members of the Parliamentary Justice Committee. It took me all day & it may not be the best piece of writing I’ve ever done, but I felt compelled to do something other than post one more link on Facebook offering up appalling evidence of the federal government’s ominous disregard for its citizens well-being and safety.

Letter to: 

Stephen Woodworth, Conservative, Kitchener Centre, Ontario (Member of Justice Committee)

Telephone: 613-995-8913 EMail: stephen.woodworth@parl.gc.ca

Dear Mr. Woodworth,

I am writing you today because I feel strongly opposed to Bill C-10. I reach out to you today as a Canadian voter and taxpayer, as a concerned aunt of six great children and as a crime victim.

In 2002, I was assaulted by a man with a long history of mental illness and alcoholism. I later learned that my assault had not been an isolated incident; he had previously assaulted at least two other women. I strongly believe that if he had received adequate treatment as a youth, he would not have developed a pattern of violence.

I was extremely grateful for the support I received from CAVAC, the crime victim’s assistance centre affiliated with Québec’s Ministry of Justice. They were helpful and supportive throughout the lengthy process of my recovery. My case was tied up in the court system for over two years, there was no measure of solace to be found in that waiting period. And I cannot say that the incarceration of my assailant would offer any solace. Solace was found through the personal work I did with the help of CAVAC, a good therapist and time.

The new crime bill will force so many more cases through the justice system, it’s hard to imagine a scenario other than longer waits for trials. The federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has repeatedly refused to offer concrete facts as to the benefits or costs of Bill C-10, offering up again and again, hollow talking points about “being concerned about victims”. As a crime victim, I am much more interested in prevention than deterrence. Prevention means eradicating child poverty, treating mental illness and fetal alcohol syndrome, strengthening programs for at-risk youth. None of these measures are even addressed in Bill C-10. Instead the bill aims to put more people – even teenagers! – in jail at an inestimable, and completely obfuscated, price tag. And to what effect? There is ample evidence that criminal behaviour is only honed in jail, and with the Bill’s provision to remove restrictions on the force prison guards may inflict on prisoners, a cycle of violence will spiral further out of control. These prisoners will be released some day. Do we not want them to come back as members of society or as predators further damaged by the prison experience?

The Canadian Bar Association is opposed to this bill, Aboriginal leaders are against it, the provincial governments of Ontario and Quebec are against it, even Republican Texans question the logic of enacting measures that they have found to be ineffective to the point of crippling their state economy. Please tell me why the Conservative government is in such a rush to enact this bill, without considering the concerns of community leaders, criminal justice professional or even addressing the many amendments the NDP and Liberal MPs have proposed?

I beg you, Mr. Woodworth, to consider the many negative effects Bill C-10 will have on the future of our youth, our communities, our country.

Thank you for your time,

Alexis O’Hara

Artist and educator

Montreal, Quebec