Letters to the Editor

MP should have met with constituents

To the editor:

I am writing this letter in response to the Dec. 23 article: Conservative MP Stands Behind ‘Tough on Crime’ Bill.

I helped organize the community meeting regarding the omnibus crime bill (MP Avoids Crime Bill Public Forum, Dec. 22 Capital News) on which the (Dec. 23) article is based.

While I think it is fantastic that Mr. Cannan has said something regarding the bill, I do not feel he responded to his constituent’s concerns. Mr. Cannan was invited to the town meeting and decided to not attend. If he wished to respond to his critics he should have done so at this public meeting as all of the other political parties of the Okanagan did. Instead he has chosen to ‘respond’ through the media and does not at all address the concerns his constituents brought forward.

It was recognized that there are many positive aspects of the bill. However, it was clear that those in attendance at the meeting had concerns about various aspects as well. A UBC doctoral student who spoke at the meeting correctly explained that although it seems intuitive that mandatory minimum prison sentences would result in a modification of public behaviour, empirical data indicate otherwise. Our laws should reflect this and not take prison sentencing discretion away from our judges.

Another concern was that the debate which took place in Ottawa on the omnibus crime bill was limited to five minutes per section. This did not allow the bill to be properly scrutinized by Parliament. While parts of the bill had been debated prior to the federal election, none had ever gained full approval and therefore needed to be scrutinized again to ensure that passing the bill would not cause harm to our communities.

Citizens from a variety of different social and special interest groups including victim’s groups, academics, civil liberties experts and others have warned the current government about excessive costs and negative unintended consequences of the omnibus crime bill. Even republicans from Texas are warning Canadians that mandatory minimums are ineffective and costly. This comes while both Texas and highly indebted California are repealing their own mandatory minimums recognizing that they have been a complete social and economic failure.

I hope next time there is a public meeting on this controversial issue, or any other, that Mr. Cannan will attend so his constituents will better understand his reasoning for taking a position that so many of them disagree with.

Gilbert Hobart,

Kelowna

 

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