Stephen Harper's Conservatives have prided themselves on being a party that is tough on crime, pushing for certain minimum sentences and announcing plans to build new prisons in order to convey that image. However, they are now coming into conflict with their partners in the war against crime, the police. If this isn't a signal of being soft on crime, then what is?
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) approved a resolution at its meeting earlier today that asserted the importance of the long form to police work. It reads that “ police agencies throughout Canada depend on reliable, comprehensive demographic statistical information provided by Statistics Canada to establish policing priorities and to determine policing services for their communities" and that “the long form census used by Statistics Canada is the basic tool for gathering the necessary statistical information while protecting the confidentiality of such information.”
In other words, the Harper government, by rendering the long form census impotent, are crippling the efforts of the police to reduce and stop crime. The police will no longer possess this crucial information, a tool they used to stop the crime Harper claims to want to stop also.
Perhaps more indicative is the further stance the CACP adopted on the long gun registry. They unanimously adopted a resolution calling on police leaders and officers to explain to the public and politicians the value and importance of the long gun registry.
Police across the country consult the database 11000 times per day. It is according to Chief Blair, the head of the CACP, "a tool that we need, that we use every day. And if you take it away from us, you are diminishing our capacity to keep our communities safe.”
Harper maintained today that "Canadians have been very clear they want us to spend our time and our money focusing on the criminal misuse of firearms and not going after law abiding duck hunters and farmers." The CACP, who should know about this area after all, are telling him loud and clear that if he wants to focus on public safety, he should not abolish the long gun registry. The two aren't irreconcilable. After all, the police are not putting duck hunters and farmers in prison.
Maybe Harper should listen to his partners in the war on crime. Maybe he should listen to those who actually are tough on crime, rather than to those that are blinded by ideology.
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