April 12, 2011
What is this obsession that Stephen Harper and the Tories have with crime? The way they keep hammering away at it, you’d think this was a major issue among Canadians.
The Globe and Mail posed the question last weekend in a think piece by Ian Brown. His conclusion was fuzzy, but it seems to come down to pandering to people’s fears. Crime rates have been falling for several years now. Criminologists are unanimous in agreeing that longer prison terms do nothing to prevent crime. And yet people still fear crime.
Or do they?
If you take a look at the unscientific poll at The Daily News website, you’ll find that crime — as an election issue — is dead last with only 3.5 per cent of votes. That’s out of a total of 536 votes as I write this. Even the environment, which is often considered to be a soft issue when times are tough, edges out crime with 3.9 per cent.
This leads me to conclude that the Conservatives are doing something worse than pandering. When you pander, you play to fears that already exist. What they are doing is trying to create fears. As our population ages, people are more easily scared. Young men who might be criminals seem more frightening.
So what’s worse than pandering? Fear-mongering. It really is disgraceful.