Concerned about the fire in the kitchen? Don’t worry! We’re going to paint the front room pink!

Old bridge over the Miramichi River. Needs replacing!

Great! The nation’s economy is in a shambles. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are evaporating nationwide. Overnight, our Alberta budget’s gone from multi-billion-dollar surplus to billion-dollar deficit – which is a little like going from chicken salad to the other stuff that comes from chickens. And what does our federal Conservative minority government offer us? They’re going to get tough on crime!

There are words for this, and one of them’s “distraction.”

We’ve discussed this before. Crime’s a problem, but it’s not the problem our federal government would like to fool us into thinking it is.

Indeed, Canadian crime rates have been declining dramatically. Last summer, Statistics Canada reported that the national crime rate in Canada declined a significant 7 per cent in 2007. Crime was down in most provinces, including Alberta. Most serious violent offences – including homicides, attempted murders, sexual assaults and robberies – were down too.

Over the past 15 years, the country’s crime rate has dropped more than 25 per cent! Who knows why? Maybe because a lot of our active criminals are almost as old and tired as I am.

Moreover, most of the “solutions” being proposed by this government won’t work, and may make the situation worse. As in most things (except crazy stuff like unbridled free expression), however, our Conservatives follow the U.S. lead – packed jails, brutal penalties and all. And if a homegrown solution actually shows promise of working – a gun registry, say – oh, they’re going to get rid of that.

But as long as we’re getting mad about crime, I guess, we won’t be getting mad about all that other stuff. So never mind all those boring old crime-rate statistics!

So whatever the reality, our (minority) Conservative masters in Ottawa have decided that “getting tough on crime” – even if it is completely counterproductive – is what their political base demands.

They also recognize that their core political supporters are uncomfortable with the idea of spending our way out of a recession – even if that is the prescription recommended by most mainstream economists of the right and left alike.

Nevertheless, even given all this, the non sequitur that came out of the mouth St. Albert Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber last week was decidedly weird, if not outright bizarre.

I’m quoting from one of the local papers here: “Many Conservative supporters aren’t happy the federal government plans to run a deficit, Rathgeber said, including members of his own political board. ‘To compensate for that, the government has decided it’s going to move forward on its law and order agenda.’” (Emphasis added.)

Say what? Does Mr. Rathgeber, who is pretty obviously a fairly bright guy, think that St. Albert voters actually think like that? Or, more frighteningly still, do they?

Gee whiz, this is a bit like having your landlord tell you: “Because you’re so concerned about the fat fire blazing on the stovetop, I’m going to paint the front room pink!”

Uh, great. … I guess. D’ya think we could put the fire out anyway?

At times like these, I’m often prone to blame the journalist. I edited too many journalists’ stories over the years not to have faith that, given the opportunity, most reporters will get things spectacularly wrong. In this case, however, the young man who wrote the story is a serious fellow with a reputation for accuracy. And anyway, our Brent elaborated at such length that it could hardly be otherwise.

Actually, though, the more I think about this, I wonder if this isn’t an approach that has some merit. Maybe we can look forward to several interesting new initiatives from our “new” Conservative government along similar lines. (When did they stop calling themselves new?)

For example:

  • To discourage teens from smoking, we plan to ban the use of studded tires in Nunavut between March and September.
  • To make up for the decline of the B.C. salmon fishery, we’ll consider lowering the GST another half percentage point.
  • And since our base just isn’t happy about university biology teachers yakkety-yak-yakking about evolution all the time, we’re going to compensate them by building a new bridge over the Miramichi River!

Now that oughtta keep the Conservatives’ supporters quiet!

One Comment on "Concerned about the fire in the kitchen? Don’t worry! We’re going to paint the front room pink!"

  1. zeister says:

    For most of my 65 years I was a Liberal Party supporter. No more. It started with broken promises in the ‘Red Book’. Continued on with criminal activities but the final straw was the universal gun registry. Such registries have a history of failure as well as unsavoury historical conclusions. The process of promoting the registry is perhaps its most damning feature. Canadians were lied to about the results and the real costs now set about 2 billion dollars with NO demonstrable benefit. The Auditor General pointed out many of the problems of the registry and the Liberal government’s philosophy of gun control. Two facts that condemn the registry are one the attempts by the Liberals to hide the true cost of this programme and two their philosophy and practise of promoting the gun registry. It is clear from their record that eventual eradication of all privately owned firearms is a real possibility. The Liberals have refused to produce a cost/benefit analysis for the gun registry. This analysis is required by Treasury Board for all government programmes. The fact the Liberals refused to produce one says it all. The Liberal, NDP et al support for the universal gun registry has NOT been supported by science but rather by opinion based on a political agenda that depends on the innate fear or hatred of firearms shared by many urban Canadians and anti-gun propaganda. This has resulted in urban votes and the split between urban and rural Canadians.

    Another damning feature of the Liberal actions has to do with our culture and history. As a working government curator I was intimately involved with the presentation of our history to Canadians. I am disgusted by the revisionist version of our history now being promoted by the Liberal Party of Canada. Two points. We have an historic firearms culture in Canada that predates settlement. And secondly, Canadians do have an historic right to own personal firearms. A Liberal lawyer like Allan Rock is either ignorant of the facts or living in denial in support of a Liberal anti-gun agenda. Neither is acceptable in a politician. I suggest Canadians read Bill C-301 that has been tabled in Parliament as it addresses and corrects the main problems of the gun registry.

    One last concern has to do with individual or minority rights. It worries me that some political parties have chosen to attack minority rights in their race for power. It is even more troubling that they are willing to revise our history to suit their political agenda. Too harsh you say? Not so. Consider the facts of our history, their reactions to that history and then you judge. When a government starts taking away rights then all should be concerned. If they do it in the name of ‘public safety’ then that is even scarier as it has links to totalitarianism and the loss of individual rights. Supposedly good men supporting a bad policy does not make it right. Nor should we accept less than what our fathers bequeathed us.

    Yes, the mob has been howling for blood and harsher sentences. The problem is human but instead our attention was distracted with talk of bans and attacks on a law abiding minority. The mayor of Toronto has to deal with the problem of 80 odd urban gangs. He has failed to suppress the gangs or to correct the social conditions that breed them. Who is the greater threat to public safety, the mayor or the law abiding licensed and registered gun owner? We have ‘banned’ all types of crime. If you ban legal handguns then you must include other objects of mayhem, i.e. knives, bats, blunt objects, glass bottles, automobiles etc. You can see the logic here that bans historically have not worked so it is nothing more than political chicanery calling for a ban on legal handguns. Not to mention that such a ban is a direct attack on private property and individual rights.

    Historically, the greatest crimes have been committed in the name of public order and safety. Gun bans are just another step downwards.

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