Harper Hasn't Been Tough Enough
Ever since Stephen Harper and his team of Conservatives took over the government, they’ve consistently applied tough on crime policies in Canada. Their critics do what their critics have been doing since 2006: whine and complain about the policies that favour victims instead of perpetrators. They claim punishing criminals doesn’t work and cite “science” to back them up. They claim the crime rate has been dropping for years, so consequently we shouldn’t worry about it, I guess. They claim that tough on crime policies are expensive for taxpayers, as though expenses have ever been an issue for public spending on things they personally agree with. Overall, there seems to be a näive sense that crime is done by sympathetic Charles Dickens, hard-done-by types that just haven’t had a fair shake in this horrible country and who deserve both our pity and adulation.
Luckily, for Canada, most people don’t fall into this category and instead have reasonable views that demand accountability, justice and long term solutions. Unfortunately, our bleeding heart legal system routinely fails mainstream society in this regard. Light sentences for hideous crimes are the norm in Canada. I stress the word hideous, because most of us understand that we don’t want the first time offender who was caught with some joints getting an over-the-top sentence. Canada isn’t, nor should it be, in the business of crushing people who make relatively minor mistakes...mostly in their youth.
The crime problem most Canadians despise are the hideous acts. These are the criminal outliers that usually aren’t sentenced harshly enough. This puts people at risk and causes horrific damage, not only to their victims but to Canadian society at large.
I used to work in broadcast media and here are four examples that I remember during my time in the news.
In 2007, I remember sulking around the back alley of a lower-middle class neighbourhood trying to get videotape of the scene of a crime. Calgary cops tend to tape off huge swaths of space when crimes occur in order to preserve a scene. It makes it easier to control everything and keep nosy journalists like myself from getting too much info.
Why was I angling around in a back alley?
Matt McKay was a 17-year-old kid who was slowly getting over the untimely death of his Mom and decided to attend a party. He was hanging out at a garage party with some young people one night, when suddenly, a 20 year old dude showed up high on coke and drunk out of his mind. A minor argument ensued and he picked up a pick axe and slammed it into Matt’s head.
It was a big story at the time. We went to the high school Matt attended and were told to fuck off by plenty of students, but little by little the story unfolded. Not much of a story, though. Just some coked up idiot flying into a rage and murdering a kid.
Two years later he was sentenced to 10 years minus time served, which works out to 8 and a half years.
Of course we followed up with the devastated family, and the diplomatic defence attorney talking about how it was the right sentence. Nevertheless, the message was loud and clear. Murder a kid with a pick axe and you forfeit a couple of election cycles worth of time. Matt McKay’s killer will be walking down the street next to you by the time he’s 30.
Matt McKay will still be dead.
Here’s a case that had me videotaping garbage cans and lingering around yellow taped neighbourhoods. In 2006, Chad Largy went out drinking with his buddy at Cowboys. Apparently they left and hung out at the buddy’s place. Chad was angry that his buddy wouldn’t call a couple of girls they met at the bar and an argument ensued. A knife was produced and Chad was stabbed to death...and then dismembered...and then spread throughout the city. A bottle picker found his arm and the police figured things out from there.
Now granted, Chad pulled the knife first, (or so his buddy claimed...hard to argue when your side of the story is the only one there is) and the murder wasn’t pre-meditated. A normal person would ask...why not call the police and explain it was self-defence? What normal person decides to dismember the body and throw it around town?
The judge seemed to think it was no big deal. A sentence of 10 years minus time served...so 8 years. Remember, this took place in 2006 and he was sentenced in 2007. By this time next year you could be sitting on the bus next to a dude who murdered and chopped up a human being and garbaged him around town.
This story didn’t get much play outside of Calgary, but I remember it vividly.
In 2007, an alcoholic with ten driving infractions since 1989 was speeding down the street in south Calgary behind the wheel of a cement truck. Unfortunately, for Chris Gautreau, 41, his 33-year-old girlfriend, Melaina Hovdebo, his two daughters, Alexia, 9, and Kiarra, 6, and Hovdebo’s 16-month-old son, Zachary Morrison, the cement truck didn’t stop at the red light. They were all instantly killed when the cement truck hit them. The driver then tried to cover up the alcohol, claiming to police that he accidentally tried to take a swig of water, but then realized it was vodka. (Similar to the old, "I drank AFTER the accident to calm my nerves," defense.)
He was sentenced to 8 years minus time served...so 5 and half years. Roughly one year per person killed. He’s now a free man and working full time again.
In 2005, we followed the story of Albert Muckle. This story stuck with me because of the severity of the crime. I remember the reporter covering the story giving us details that were not released to the public. I also remember trying to edit footage of Muckle after he was arrested. He was in the back of a police cruiser with his middle fingers in the air and a maniacal look on his heavily tattooed face.
Muckle was a drifter from Ontario with a long list of criminal arrests. He was arrested starting at the age of 11 for theft and it escalated from there. He went to jail in 1999 for stabbing a cab driver. When in jail he incited a riot. Four years later the parole board thought he was high risk for violently re-offending...so they paroled him to a healing lodge that he consequently walked away from. Making his way to BC, he stole and enforced for drug dealers. He beat a man with an empty glass bottle and then kicked him until the “walls were red”, but felt it was justified because he was protecting his girlfriend’s honour. Eventually he found his way to Banff and was coming down off meth when he met Julianne Courneya.
Julianne was in Banff making some summer money. Six weeks pregnant, she was young and pretty and näive. She finished her shift at the bar and that’s when she experienced Muckle’s wrath.
He beat her and robbed her and left her lying unconscious. After thinking about what he had done, he returned to the now unconscious Julianne and raped her...and then strangled her with her purse strap and left her for dead. A passerby eventually found her and she was raced to the hospital.
Nine years later, she’s still in a comatose state, afflicted by random seizures.
If we had a “tough on crime” policy in place back in 2005, then maybe this serial offender wouldn’t have been in Banff that night.
“Too many Canadians are still victims of crime. Despite years of unceasing effort, there remain many areas requiring determined action in our criminal justice system. When it comes to keeping our streets and communities safe, we will not rest for there is much more to be done.”
- Stephen Harper
These were four major cases I remember covering during my broadcast days in Calgary, but there were many others that took place across the country during this time.
Karla Homolka was released from prison after serving 12 years for kidnapping a couple of young girls and serving them to her husband to be raped and murdered. Also? She drugged her own sister so her husband could have an easy rape, after which she died choking on her own vomit.
#1. Vote for politicians who care about justice.
Our elected officials make the laws in this country and our courts (are supposed to) implement them. If we elect officials to Parliament or Legislature that have a dedication to law and order, then that ideology will set the agenda. This is why the “hug-a-thug” crowd despise Harper so much. They know he is in charge of a party that will enact an agenda contrary to leftist interests. Unfortunately, Canada has been ruled by leftist minded politicians for so long that implementing change is like trying to turn around an ocean liner. Nevertheless, the catalyst for change comes from our elected representatives and the more they care about justice, the less hideous court rulings we’ll eventually see.
#2. Lobby groups.
Financially supporting groups that are working in accordance with your views is important. There are a lot of organizations that are doing advocacy work in regards to justice policy. Here is a link to a bunch of organizations related to crime and victim’s rights. Here’s another link showing ways to lobby the government yourself. Taking direct action like this works. Leftists devote careers to working on the other side of the issue, so conservatives need to be dedicated too.
#3. Take the law into your own hands.
No, I don’t mean you should be The Punisher or The Equalizer or any other “er” type of cowboy vigilante. What I mean is, take action when you see it. Don’t be afraid to get involved. The case of Kitty Genovese is a classic one. Multiple witnesses heard her getting assaulted and they did nothing to help her. Although the case has been embellished as an example of diffusion of responsibility, it resonates nevertheless because we recognize the truth behind the claim. People often fail to act for the wrong reasons. Not out of malice or apathy, but out of fear of embarrassment or mindless group think. It creates the bystander effect.
I say get over it.
If opportunity knocks and you can prevent a crime...do it. Don’t shirk responsibility if you can help it. Intervene if you can or call the police if needed. The best way to prevent a liberal judge from giving a criminal a slap on the wrist is to prevent the crime from happening in the first place.