Getting Tough on Crime

Last week, Public Safety Minister the Honourable Vic Toews, asked me, as our local Member of Parliament, to make the formal announcement that Correctional Service of Canada is investing in increased capacity within the Drumheller Institution and Bowden Institution, both federal penitentiaries.  This additional capacity is part of our Conservative Government's plan to help ensure that criminals serve sentences that reflect the severity of their crimes.
In my speech, I emphasized that our government takes very seriously our responsibility to build stronger, safer communities across Canada. That is why we are investing in the resources that members of the law enforcement community have been telling us they need to protect victims and make Canadian streets safer. For example, we have hired over 1,000 additional RCMP personnel as part of our efforts to combat crime.
We are also preventing crime by helping at-risk youth make smart choices and avoid getting involved with criminal activity.  Last year alone we funded 152 community based crime prevention programs in which nearly 10,000 at-risk youth participate.  Our goal is to steer vulnerable children and youth away from a life of crime.
Part of keeping our communities safe is keeping dangerous criminals behind bars until they have served their time – not releasing them into our streets automatically, and before they are ready.  Canadians are often shocked when they hear that some criminals are currently being released into our communities after serving as little as one-sixth of the sentence handed down by the courts.
The $15 million to increase inmate capacity within Drumheller Institution will help ensure that criminals serve sentences that reflect the severity of their crimes. This year, our government passed legislation that limits credit for time served in pre-sentence custody and we ended the practice which disproportionately reduced prison sentences for violent offenders. We understand there is a cost to keeping dangerous criminals behind bars, and we believe that is a cost worth paying.
As your Member of Parliament, I delivered my speech with all the confidence of my constituents who - over many years - have voiced their strong support for these kinds of measures. I thank you for standing up for your beliefs and making your views clear to me as your federal elected representative.  We disagree with those whose view it is that dangerous criminals should be released onto our streets early just to save money.  In 2003, the Department of Justice estimated that crime in Canada cost approximately $70 billion.  The pain and suffering of victims and their families is immeasurable.
It does cost money to deal with serious criminals.  But the overall cost to the safety and well being of individuals, families, communities and society in failing to do so costs so much more. Our government is willing to invest the resources necessary to help ensure dangerous criminals don't create new victims or terrorize previous ones. I am pleased that we are delivering on our 'get tough on crime' election promise.  We are committed to placing the interests of victims ahead of the interests of criminals.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail