Abused as Tory props [victims of crime]

TheStar.com – opinion/editorials
Published On Wed Apr 27 2011.

According to the Conservative party platform “every victim matters.” Whether it’s victims of natural disaster, Communism, Holocaust, human trafficking, terrorism or crime – there are 40 references in all—they must be better recognized and supported.

But what does that really mean for people who have had their lives torn apart by a criminal incident? Not much, argues Canada’s first (and now former) ombudsman for victims of crime. “They use the word ‘victim’ a lot but it’s done to support or justify the get-tough-on-crime agenda, which really doesn’t do a whole lot for most victims of crime,” Steve Sullivan told the Star’s Diana Zlomislic.

Indeed, the Conservative tough-on-crime agenda does not do much for reducing crime either. All we need to do is look to our American neighbours to see that locking up more people for longer periods of time in harsher conditions doesn’t reduce crime or make people safer. It just costs taxpayers billions of dollars in ongoing prison costs – money that could be better spent on social programs, education, job creation or, really, just about anything else.

When the Conservative government created the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime four years ago, it said the watchdog would promote access to programs, explore systemic issues and make sure Ottawa met its commitments to victims.

None of that can happen if the justice minister keeps the office’s annual reports under wraps. Sullivan says he filed his 2008 and 2009 reports before his three-year term ended last April but they have yet to be made public by the government.

And what does it say that the highlight of office’s work is getting the Conservative government to invest $5 million to fund centres for children who have been victims of abuse at a time when it was happily committing taxpayers to spending billions of dollars to house more inmates in ever more prison cells?

It suggests the Conservatives are more interested in using victims as props in their ongoing drive to impose expensive and unnecessary anti-crime bills on Canadians than helping those victims through better services and programs.

“We believe that the justice and corrections system must put victims and public safety first,” states the Conservative platform. Too bad the policies in it don’t do either.

Canadians, and victims of crime in particular, deserve better.

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/980762–abused-as-tory-props >

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