Our Omnibusters! More photos from the first day of filming…


On Saturday, Nov. 19, It Could Get Worse filmed 11 videos which we will be putting online this week to oppose the cruel omnibus crime bill C-10.

Here are just a few of the amazing outspoken Omnibusters (from the Concordia University community) who took a stand against criminalization, propaganda, and fear.


Omnibuster Laura Beeston, Editor, The Link Newspaper

Originally from Winnipeg, Laura Beeston is the fearless editrix of The Link, Concordia’s Independent Newspaper. In her video, Laura urged you to call your MP and “Tell them to check their facts!”

Omnibuster Antonio Bavaro, actor, student, and organizer

Theatre and Development student Antonio Bavaro is outraged that Bill C-10 will further criminalize youth for the rest of their lives, and divert funds from prevention and education. Here, he holds up “Build Communities, not Prisons!” for It Could Get Worse. Antonio proudly hails from Sherwood Park, Alberta.

Omnibuster Jessica MacCormack, Concordia Professor, Artist, and blogger

Artist Jessica MacCormack is a Professor of Fine Arts at Concordia University. Her work centres on women in prison, and on the increased criminalization of of the mentally ill. Her blog, Work Equals Worth Equals Innocence raises awareness about the social perception of the mentally ill as criminals, in honour of a man slain by Montréal police in June of 2011. Her video and performance work has appeared in festivals and galleries throughout Canada and Europe: check it out here.

Sign the petition, call your MP and tell them to vote NO on the Omnibus Crime Bill C-10:

It Could Get Worse – Don’t let it!

FTB’s Ethan Cox on the Ominous Omnibus and how to stop it

Forget The Box columnist Ethan Cox on political attempts to stop the Omnibus and what people can do to help out. Here’s an excerpt:

All this to make our communities safer. But would it? Canada is not the US. Our crime rate is at its lowest level since 1973, according to Statistics Canada. There is no crime wave sweeping this country. But even if there were, Bill C-10 would be the worst possible response.

In hearings before the Justice Committee, and in a number of open letters and publicly released statements, one expert after another has explained that moving from a rehabilitation and reintegration approach to justice, to a punitive system based on lengthy prison terms will make us less safe, not more.

The Americans have been down that road and their experience is instructive. Even conservative Republicans have been forced to declare their punitive vision of criminal justice, on which C-10 is modeled, an abject failure.

You can read the full article on Forget The Box, 2B Mag or Rabble.

Our Omnibusters! Photos from the First Day of Filming…


On Saturday, Nov. 19, It Could Get Worse filmed 11 videos which we will be putting online this week to oppose the cruel omnibus crime bill C-10.

Here are just a few of the amazing outspoken Omnibusters who took a stand against criminalization, propaganda, and fear.

Omnibuster Heather Lou!

Interior designer, DIY fashion blogger, and chic environmentalist Heather Lewenza came out against Bill C-10. We loved her video, and it will be one of the first ones we publish Nov. 21st! “The Ombinus Crime Bill C-10 is NOT tough on crime, it’s tough to swallow!” Thanks, Heather!

Laurin Liu, Member of Parliament (NDP, St-Eustache), Ottawa's #1 Omnibuster!

Member of Parliament Laurin Liu has it out for Omnibus Crime Bill C-10 and is our first elected official OMNIBUSTER! Laurin’s video focuses on how YOUTH, WOMEN, and FIRST NATIONS people will be further criminalized by Bill C-10, and she gave us her unequivocal support in opposing it. Her video will go online Monday morning, Nov 21st.

Omnibuster Jordan Arseneault, editor, performer and queer activist

A founding member of It Could Get Worse, and the editor of www.2bmag.com, Jordan is outraged that Bill C-10 will mean more money for prisons when what we need as a society is money for social housing and prevention. The prison system will unjustly target people living in poverty, queer people, trans people and HIV positive people, and that’s why he wants to KILL BILL C-10! Along with Heather and Laurin, he is urging all Canadians, especially those living in Tory ridings to CALL THEIR MP and tell them to BUILD COMMUNITIES, NOT PRISONS!

Sign the petition, call your MP and tell them to vote NO on the Omnibus Crime Bill C-10:

It Could Get Worse – Don’t let it!

Why we must Kill Bill C-10: Canadian Civil Liberties Associations makes it clear


UnwiseUnjustUnconstitutional via the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

On September 20, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson tabled Bill C-10, an omnibus bill titled the Safe Streets and Communities Act.  Combining amendments from nine separate bills that had failed to pass in previous sessions of parliament, Bill C-10 would make fundamental changes to almost every component of Canada’s criminal justice system. It proposes:
  • New criminal offences
  • New and increased mandatory minimum sentences
  • The selective elimination of conditional sentences
  • Increased pretrial detention and new, harsher sentencing principles for young offenders
  • Longer waiting times before individuals can apply for pardons
  • Increased barriers for Canadians detained abroad who wish to serve the remainder of their sentence at home
  • The Bill also introduces some changes outside the criminal justice system:
  • Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act would grant the Minister of Immigration broad discretion to deny work permits to any foreign national who is ‘at risk of abuse’
  • Amendments to various pieces of legislation to allow victims of terrorism to sue certain foreign entities and governments for damages

What are the problems with Bill C-10?

In the CCLA’s view, the Bill proposes a few welcome changes, including requiring the Parole Board of Canada to provide annual statistics relating to record suspensions (which replace pardons for some offences) and empowering victims of terrorism to seek redress for loss and damage resulting from a terrorist act.

Overall, however, the direction these changes set out for the Canadian criminal justice system – jail more often, for longer, with more lasting consequences – is a dangerous route that is unsupported by the social science evidence and has already failed in other countries.  Indeed, the research suggests that putting an individual in jail for longer will actually increase the likelihood of re-offending.  It’s hard to see how this Bill will make streets and communities safer.  What it will do is needlessly increase the number of people in prison, skyrocketing costs and imposing unjust, unwise and unconstitutional punishments.  This is exactly the kind of policy Canada doesn’t need.

Below are six broad points where CCLA is most concerned about the impact of this Bill.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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

4. 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.  The elimination of conditional sentences for a range of offences is particularly concerning, as these flexible sentencing tools are used by the judiciary to allow single mothers to continue working while serving their sentence and preventing the breakup of families, or to ensure that those with underlying mental health needs get the community treatment that best ensures their recovery and rehabilitation.


>> Read CCLA’s op-ed on this question “Tough on Crime is not National Mental Health Strategy


5. Unconstitutional amendments to the International Transfer of Offenders Act: The amendments attempt to give the Minister an unconstitutional level of discretion over when Canadian citizens, incarcerated abroad, can return to Canada.  From a policy perspective, facilitating such transfers enhances public safety as rehabilitation and reintegration is enhanced when individuals are close to their families and have access to high-quality, culturally-appropriate programs.  When offenders serve a portion of their sentence in Canada, it also allows the government to create records of their crimes and monitor their rehabilitation.  Absent such transfers, offenders would simply return to Canada at the end of their sentence without any records or legal restrictions on their activities.

6. Increasing transparency and accountability: The CCLA welcomes the required 5-year review of the mandatory minimum provisions set out in s. 42 of the Bill and the requirement that the National Parole Board submit an annual report that includes the number of applications for record suspensions and the number of record suspensions ordered.  Similar reviews and public reports to parliament should be undertaken with respect to the changes to the other acts.

The CCLA has been busy making submissions to the Parliamentary Committee that will consider the Bill.  We also need you to lend your voice – call your MP, write to the Committee, make your opinion known!  Download a list of committee members, and their contact information, here.


It Could Get Worse – Don’t Let it!

Vancouver Sun publishes Canadian Bar Association Critique of C-10

Daryl Vocat's Poster/Virus for AIDS Action Now

Canada’s lawyers have joined a host of others — from Texas Republicans to criminologists and civil libertarians — denouncing the federal omnibus crime bill.

Ironically titled The Safe Streets and Communities Act, Bill C-10 is being rammed through Parliament by the Conservative majority government although many of its measures are a proven waste of money and effort.

Many penology and law-enforcement specialists say the ill-considered legislation could make things worse.

Ontario and Québec are balking; B.C. has said whoa, let’s have a look at the numbers.

Texas, California and other states that tried these policies were unable to afford the prison system they spawned.

Representing over 37,000 lawyers across the country, the Canadian Bar Association now is lobbying MPs urging them to listen to reason.

“This bill will change our country’s entire approach to crime at every stage of the justice system,” said CBA president and Nova Scotia lawyer Trinda L. Ernst.

“It represents a huge step backwards; rather than prioritizing public safety, it emphasizes retribution above all else. It’s an approach that will make us less safe, less secure, and ultimately, less Canadian.”


Bill C-10 will create the prisoners to fill Conservative prisons – Rabble

John Greyson's Poster Virus for AIDS Action Now

Check out this rabble piece from Oct 25 on how Bill C-10 will hurt First Nations people, and make drug use punishable by excessive and unnecessary incarceration.

“Bill C-10 is a massive piece of legislation of roughly 100 pages that rolls nine laws from organized and drug crime, to pardons, to child sex offenders, to migrants entering Canada and young offenders into a single omnibus law. The panel is focusing on how the bill’s policy on mandatory minimum sentencing for selling, or even giving away a small amount of drugs, will criminalize a generation and attack some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“I teach an third-year criminology course at the University of Ottawa. 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.

“I am not pro-drug, I am pro-sensible drug policy and there is a very, very big difference between the two. I’ve never even tried cannabis, which makes me probably a minority in my age. So I’m not here to advocate for drugs,” Oscapella quipped with a laugh before returning to a more sombre tone. “I’m here to discuss how we can best manage the drugs that are available in our society. This bill that is introducing these mandatory minimum penalties is not going to be the way to do it.”

Krysta Williams, an indigenous feminist and Lead Youth Advocate with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network said, “A supreme court decision came down about 10 years ago, it’s now called Gladue, what it said was that when a judge is sentencing an aboriginal person they have to take into account the historical context. They have to take into account the current systemic injustices we face just because of who we are. What this bill is actually trying to do is take that away. Taking away our rights in terms of saying to the court that there’s been a lot of damage done now and in the past and that needs to be recognized when talking about sentencing.”

Along with the criminalization of youth and drug users, Bill C-10 also puts public health at risk through a lack of support for harm reduction programs in federal prisons, such as a lack of a needle exchange program for injection drug users. These conditions cause HIV and hepatitis C rates to rise inside the prison population and once released will spread into the community at large as people continue to use or unknowingly infect their sexual partners.

Bill C-10 will give people who might not have drug problems a drug policy problem. And that is a bad policy for everyone.

Mick Sweetman via rabble

3 Reasons to kill Bill C-10, from Winnipeg

Across the country, people are speaking out against the astronomical cost and false reasoning behind this cruel crime Bill, C-10. In this video, John Hutton from the John Howard Society of Manitoba gives 3 crucial reasons to stop Bill C-10 from becoming law:

Mr. Hutton, like almost all criminologists and front-line workers, argues for 3 key reasons to oppose Bill C-10 as part of their “Time Does Not Stop Crime” protest campaign:

1) 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;

2) 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.

3) 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.”


Check out www.johnhoward.mb.ca for more on Manitobans’ efforts to KILL THIS BILL!

Sign the AVAAZ petition and clink on How to Help to find out how to stop Bill C-10

It Could Get Worse – Don’t Let It!

MP Elizabeth May – Omnibus Crime Bill and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Green Party Leader and MP Elisabeth May speaks out against the Omnibus Crime Bill in the House of Commons.


What is It Could Get Worse?

It Could Get Worse is an awareness and action project that seeks to call attention to the dangerous, wasteful, and unnecessary Omnibus Crime Bill C10 being proposed this session by the Conservative Party under the delusion that it will make this country “safer”. In fact, the bill’s proposals involve creating a massively funded prison-building splurge, hiring excessive numbers of guards, and increasing sentences and prison times when ALL respected research has proven that these measures make for sicker, weaker, poorer and more miserable societies.

On Nov. 1st, Québec’s Justice Minister stated that the Québec Government would not pay into the fiscally irresponsible projects that would ensue from this draconian bill should it become law. Shortly after, Newfoundland and Ontario joined the countrywide chorus of voices that strongly oppose this brutal Bill.

We are urging Canadians, especially those who reside in Conservative-led ridings, to call or e-mail their Member of Parliament and tell them that this bill is unCanadian, outdated, and that its fiscal and social costs are too high; that it is based on bogus knee-jerk unresearched ideas, and that, more profoundly, Bill C10 is completely out of touch with criminological research and anti-oppressive learnings. Longer sentences, bigger prisons, and more punishable offenses is NOT the way to build a safer, stronger, more economically viable country!

The Toronto Star has an excellent summary of why we must oppose this delusional and punishment-obsessed bill.

Join us in supporting massive petition efforts by www.Leadnow.ca and AVAAZ to prevent this cruel bill from becoming a legislative reality. Then find out who your MP is, get their Ottawa phone number and official e-mail address and let them know how you feel.

Bill C10 – The Safe Streets and Communities Act?

Bill C-10 is titled The Safe Streets and Communities Act — an ironic name, considering that Canada already has some of the safest streets and communities in the world and a declining crime rate.
Trinda L. Ernst - Toronto Star

Bill C-10 is titled The Safe Streets and Communities Act — an ironic name, considering that Canada already has some of the safest streets and communities in the world and a declining crime rate. This bill will do nothing to improve that state of affairs but, through its overreach and overreaction to imaginary problems, Bill C-10 could easily make it worse. It could eventually create the very problems it’s supposed to solve.

Bill C-10 will require new prisons; mandate incarceration for minor, non-violent offences; justify poor treatment of inmates and make their reintegration into society more difficult. Texas and California, among other jurisdictions, have already started down this road before changing course, realizing it cost too much and made their justice system worse. Canada is poised to repeat their mistake.

The Canadian Bar Association, representing over 37,000 lawyers across the country, has identified 10 reasons why the passage of Bill C-10 will be a mistake and a setback for Canada:

The whole article was originally published by The Toronto Star and was written by Trinda L. Ernst who is the president of the Canadian Bar Association.