Blame Tory policies for rising crime rate – News/Letters to the Editor
November 17, 2010.    Dave Lundy, OPSEU regional vice-president

I read with interest your front page news story with the headline “Runciman defends mailouts.”

Apparently the mailouts were another in a long list of attempts by the Conservatives to portray themselves as tough on crime. I love how right-wing Tories walk around with their chests puffed up, exclaiming for any and all: “Hey, we’re tough on crime.”

“We are tougher on crime than anyone else,” they say. Or “we invented boot camps for Ontario’s youth.” Their philosophy is “lock’em up.” Build more jails and follow the U.S. example.

Well, first you have to create the criminals, and boy, the Tories have done and continue to do a great job at that. First here in Ontario under Harris, now federally, they ravaged the social safety net. Look at unfunded children’s mental health care, reduced funding to classrooms and elimination of after-school programs for youth.

The Conservatives drastically cut welfare payments to families and single parents. They removed classroom support staff. They launched a legislative attack on unions to roll back union density and make Ontario’s workforce more “flexible,” they said.

The result was an explosion of temporary private manpower agencies and dead-end jobs. Over 500,000 Ontario families lost the benefits and pensions that they worked so hard to achieve. Then they changed the labour laws to ensure that it would be virtually impossible to qualify for overtime pay outside of a unionized worksite.

They also passed laws to contain unionization drives so workers could not unionize to recover lost wages and benefits, so families took on two, three even four jobs to make ends meet. This, of course, put added pressure on families and many of them disintegrated.

Some were forced to look for social housing, but the Tories anticipated that, and totally eliminated provincial funding for social housing, creating a crisis that communities across Ontario are struggling to deal with to this day.

Of course, the children were the hardest hit. How have we grown used to the idea of children and families living on the streets, and surviving through eating at the now institutionalized local food bank?

The minimum wage was left to languish to the point that even working full-time, a person could not support a family. Funding for higher education was hacked away to the point where our young people are now faced with a choice of obtaining higher education only through mortgaging their future decades of potential earnings.

But that just makes them more “flexible” as employees, right Bob, Steve and Gord? No French-style student demonstrations here.

The fundamental factor behind most crime and criminal behaviour is poverty. The Tories have done a fantastic job of creating and spreading that around. Under their irresponsible fiscal and social leadership, the gap between rich and poor exploded and continues to grow. Yet services remain underfunded.

Current Liberal policies are virtually indistinguishable from old Tory ones. Look out. The Children’s Aid Societies across the province are next on the chopping block.

Government priorities remain upside down. Children are left to languish while services are chopped to fund unsustainable, irresponsible tax cuts to profitable corporations -the ones that continue to cut jobs and ship profits out of the province.

Are the Tories tough on crime? Absolutely not! They are only tough on the criminals their policies created. I have not heard either MPP Steve Clark or MP Gord Brown or even Senator Runicman once publicly call for the removal of the convicted criminal Conrad Black from the Order of Canada list.

Dave Lundy, OPSEU regional vice-president, Merrickville

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