Recent crime statistics published by Statistics Canada have raised concerns about the impact of the federal government's justice policies on public safety in Canada.
According to the data, there has ben a notable surge in violent crime, leaving many Canadians traumatized and less safe in their communities. The data in Canada shows over the past eight years, murders are up 43%, violent crime has risen 39%, gang-related homicides are up 108% and violent gun crime has steadily increased every year since 2015, and is up 101%.
In fact, the crime rate increased in all four of B.C.’s major urban areas last year.
But the new federal justice minister and attorney general stated, “I think that empirically, it’s unlikely Canada is becoming less safe.”
Canadians are seeing random attacks on transit systems, the number of police officers murdered in the line of duty this year sadly keeps rising and repeat violent offenders who are out on bail in a revolving door justice system are not imaginary - they are facts.
In addition, the Violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) has risen significantly. The CSI measures and tracks both the prevalence and seriousness of crimes committed, providing a better understanding of the impact that crime has on individual community members and a community as a whole. The higher the number, the lower quality of life there is as public safety and community satisfaction diminish.
The CSI in Kelowna increased to its highest level since 2008.
Under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, the CSI decreased by 24.66%, while under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tenure, it has increased by 29.73%.
In an online survey this spring, Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies asked how the level of crime and violence in a respondent’s home community today compares to how it was before the pandemic began in early 2020. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they felt things are worse.
Respondents overwhelmingly called for better mental health supports and tougher penalties for those found guilty of committing violent offences.
We’ve now seen in the Statistics Canada crime statistics the perceptions of crime worsening match the facts in many categories.
As a reminder, my common-sense Private Members Bill, “End the Revolving Door Act”, was voted down a few months ago when not supported by NDP and Liberal MPs. It would have allowed for a mental health assessment and addiction treatment and recovery (services) for those serving sentences in federal penitentiaries, as recidivism is high.
Law enforcement across the country is speaking out about how the “catch-and-release” bail practices enacted by the current government’s Bill C-75 caused a spike in violent crime across the nation. That legislation allows for the release of violent repeat offenders from prison while they await trial, rather than keeping them incarcerated until their court proceedings are resolved.
The government has new legislation before parliament to reverse some of what they changed, but many feel it doesn’t go far enough.
Criminals are also being released from prison and returned to Canadian communities earlier thanks to Bill C-5, which Conservative MPs voted against. It eliminated statutory minimum sentences for several serious offences.
With gun violence on the rise, that has fuelled public apprehension about the effectiveness of the government's approach to tackling and preventing gun-related crimes.
It’s common sense that we need to ensure dangerous repeat offenders remain incarcerated while they await trial and mandatory prison sentences for serious offenses are re-established.
Law enforcement needs the federal legislative tools to help keep our communities safe and more focus needs to be on the victims of crime when developing our federal laws.
If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].
Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.