We’re all Conservative now

February 27th, 2009
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Now that the federal government has introduced its new anti-gang legislation, the opposition parties are attempting a novel flanking maneuver, painting themselves as tougher on crime than the Conservatives. That’s quite a task.

The 22-vote man, Ujjal Dosanjh, puffed himself up and declared “We are all tough on crime: Once the crime happens, we want the offenders punished and put away for a long time, particularly the dangerous offenders,” he said. Wow, that’s right up there with his leader’s pronouncement about the Liberal values of self-reliance and personal responsibility. Similarly Don Davies, the new NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway, held a mini-press conference today to assert that the NDP wanted the government to “move farther and faster” to deal with gang violence.

Clearly, somebody added red meat to the buffet at yesterday’s opposition caucus meetings. Or maybe the left-of-centre parties (with the Bloc conspicuous in its absence) finally realized that more law and order is what average Canadians want. So they have to stand up and go through the motions, trying to pretend they’re something that they’re not.

Mr. Dosanjh went further by stating that more resources should be devoted to policing and trying to keep youths out of gangs. All motherhood stuff there. It’s just too bad that the Libs and NDP have consistently favoured lax anti-crime policies, including shorter sentences.

As they’ve done before, the media trotted out the same old experts who insist that mandatory minimum sentences don’t work, i.e. don’t deter criminals. Usually, the opposition parrots these types, but this time they’re a little more careful. They accuse the Prime Minister of “playing politics” when he challenges them to get on board in fighting gangs.

They also let slip their skepticism about mandatory minimums. It would be nice if someone on their side would admit that punishment stands on its own merits, that victims’ families simply deserve justice. By pushing for a “comprehensive plan”, somehow punishment always slips down the priority list.

“Nobody ever obstructs justice bills, when Canadians demand that”, Mr. Dosanjh bald-facedly told reporters. Well, that would be news to anyone who’s watched the process in Ottawa over the last three years.

Let’s watch the opposition. They seem intent on depriving the government of this wedge issue. This is new territory for politicians who’ve consistently been sheepishly docile in the face of criminality. It remains to be seen when their ill-fitting wolf suits will split at the seams.

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By John Weissenberger