Crime and justice issues are always prominent in the news, but they are rarely central to the campaign. Justice is a subtle issue, and some simple solutions offer a myriad of problems.
Politicians are reluctant to step into this issue during the campaign because the issue of justice is complex and can explode. But criminal justice is a federal issue, and every party has a policy on it, without having to make a major election plan.
The Trudeau Liberal Party has not yet released a complete platform for this election, but it can be inferred that it still supports the judicial policy they were pursuing before the election was called. Bill C-22, introduced in February, would have overturned the mandatory minimum ruling provisions for more than 20 crimes. Mandatory minimum requirements were imposed by the Harper government, and the Liberal Party has long said it would overturn those laws. Bill C-22 is now dead, but if the Liberal Party is re-elected, it can be speculated that the Liberal Party will somehow be revived.
After Gabriel Wortman killed 22 people in Nova Scotia in April 2020, the Liberal Party vowed to crack down on ownership of firearms in Canada. With more than 1,500 types of firearms illegal, the Liberal Party has launched a controversial repurchase program. Bill C-21 has increased penalties for crimes such as smuggling guns and modifications to increase the ability of guns to round. It is safe to assume that the government has put up an ad praising their own gun control legislation shortly before the elections are called, and that the Liberal Party plans to continue limiting firearm rights in Canada.
The Outur Conservative Party has the most detailed judicial plan of all political parties. They have pledged to lift the ban on liberal guns and end the repurchase program. Their platform has a harsh sense of clear crime, seeking to broaden the definition of “dangerous criminal” and expand the scope of sex offender registration. They support a compulsory minimum ruling on violent crimes, and their platform covers everything from organized crime to missing person law. Justice is a policy area where the Conservative Party contrasts with the Liberal Party’s policy.
The NDP under the Jagmatesin administration has issued a short platform statement on “strengthening our judicial system.” Like the Liberal Party, the NDP wants to end a compulsory minimum ruling and increase judicial discretion. Now that cannabis possession has been legalized, they want the records to be erased for those convicted of minor cannabis possession. This statement reiterates “inequality” within the system, but does not elaborate on what it means. The NDP calls for stricter enforcement of legislation on businesses and perhaps white-collar crime.
Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party does not have a section of crime or justice within its platform. However, there is a detailed policy section on firearms. They want to abolish the entire firearms law and replace it with what they say will be a streamlined system. They maintain the licensing system, but after mandatory training and screening, make it a lifetime certification. They will lift the recent ban on some types of firearms and regulate firearms based on functionality rather than appearance. They require that future changes in firearms policy must be made through Congress, not through the Order in Council or RCMP.
The Greens haven’t released the platform yet. Leader Annamie Paul states that many of their policies are “substantially identical” to those previously proposed. In past policy statements, the Greens have spoken against anti-terrorism laws and compulsory minimum criminal law. They called for the establishment of a new “Independent Law Amendment Commission” with the authority to report on all “crime-stricken” amendments made by the Harper Conservative Party. They want increased parliamentary oversight of Canadian security services such as CSIS.
The only way justice issues tend to rise to the top during a campaign is when a terrible crime occurs during the campaign. In that case, policy statements tend to be responsive rather than aggressive. Political parties such as the Conservative Party, which has a comprehensive judicial policy built into the platform, can respond to solid proposals. Parties that shed light on the details of platform justice are at risk of appearing to be chasing the problem, but can potentially pivot and make policy proposals on the fly.
As the campaign progresses, we hope to release a more detailed platform on the key issues of crime and justice.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.