From @alexhimelfarb on Harper’s omnibus crime bill / #C10 #cdnpoli

This legislation is transformative as it puts punishment and prison at the centre of our criminal justice system.

This has never been the Canadian approach; our balanced justice policies have always focused on safety and justice – and the best evidence of what works.  Such a change  in direction should never happen without a vigorous debate – a good fight.

That’s all the more important because as we have seen in the U.S., this punitive approach leads to more of the same. It feeds our fears and, when we see that we are no more safe, rather than reverse course we opt for even more imprisonment, even tougher sentences.  This beast, the more you feed it the hungrier it gets.

In the U.S., state after state is trying to reverse course but that is no easy task once you have built and filled all those prisons, once you have created a permanent underclass on the one hand and gated communities on the other.  We do not want to go that way.

A comment on Alex Himelfarb’s blog, which should be required reading for students of public policy and anyone concerned about the direction we’re taking on crime and punishment.

Nasty, stupid, counterproductive, divisive, cynical, and very, very dangerous. But then we already knew that.

Harper’s been quite open about his intent to rewrite Canada’s entire narrative. It’s baffling and more than a little disheartening to watch the way we let him get away with it. Here we are, faced with what amounts to an existential threat to the kind of country we are, and we can’t even muster the energy for even the most minimal civic engagement?

It can’t be just the lingering after-effects of tear gas, truncheons and pepper spray. And it’s been clear since last May that the battle’s going to have to be fought through extraparliamentary channels.

And that’s where I start looking for plans that go beyond the hill-by-hill, street-by-street model. While we’re doing that, this bunch is effectively reshaping the very ground on which we’re standing. I’m all for fighting the good fight for the right reasons, but it seems to be that we’ve been doing that — and without much success. If anyone’s got any ideas about how to counter this guy, not just tactically but strategically, I’m all ears.

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