Crime is down– We need more jails!
Canada is a safe country. A nice country. A country full of people who love maple syrup, apologizing, and moose. A country where murders are rare and breaking news is a debate about the mandatory long-form census that dominates the front pages for months. So why, then, is our right-wing nutsack of a Prime Minister about to launch an obscenely expensive war on crime?
Crime rates are dropping in Canada and have been for decades. The number of crimes reported to police is down 17% in the last ten years. The Crime Severity index is down 22% since 1999. And those out-of-control youth? Steady declines in the amount and severity of youth crime since 2001.
But those kind of numbers are not going to let our fear-mongering leader shell out billions of dollars in contracts for (probably) privately-run prisons. So Treasury Board president Stockwell brought up the issue of unreported crime. He couldn’t quite point to the source of his information, but he’s pretty sure that unreported crime is like, way up.
[Let me take a minute here and point out to my *ahem* international readers that Stockwell Day is Canada’s George W. Bush. He once showed up at an election campaign press conference on a jet ski wearing a wet suit and talked about how politicians should spend more time on vacation. He went on record that he does not believe in evolution. He has said that Canadian universities were the victims of an Asian invasion and that we should stop allowing Asians to come here to study. He proposed a form of direct democracy that would force the country to hold a referendum on any petition that could garner the support of a mere 3% of the population. Which prompted comedian Rick Mercer to launch a highly successful petition to force Stockwell Day to change his name to Doris Day.]
So Doris Stockwell Day is pretty sure that unreported crime is up. And he does have some numbers to back that up. Census data shows that in 1999, 37% of crimes were reported to the police and in 2004 that number plummeted to– wait for it– 34%. The same census shows that Canadians feel safer from crime overall since 1999 and are more satisfied with their personal safety. But a 4% increase in unreported crime over more than a decade seems to be jaw-dropping.
And then there’s the issue of the data itself. Doris’ Stockwell’s government is poised to gut the mandatory long-form census that gives policy makers vital, accurate information on which to base decisions, because 3 people have complained that it’s intrusive. In the same prison-spree press conference, he questioned the value of the census in the first place, since data more than a year old is “untenable in today’s information age”.
Unless, of course, it’s data from 2004 showing a slight increase in unreported crime that his government can use to whip up fear and hang on to its pathetic mandate. That data is, like, totally tenable in the information age.
For the shere hypocrisy alone, the Apocalypse deserves a point.
The Apocalypse: 15.5