For context, we will here reprint MP Murphy’s letter with due credit given to the Times & Transcript, published Tuesday, April 17, 2007:
Liberals support crime bills
To The Editor:
It is with great interest that I read the letters to the editor on April 13 from Mr. David Barnett and Mr. Jason Innes about justice issues and the need for tougher sentences. I believe it is essential to separate fact from fiction in this important debate for our society.
I, too, was concerned by the conditional sentence given recently to Peter Howe, who was responsible for the death of a 23-year-old young man while driving under the influence of alcohol. That is why I fully agree with the Crown’s appeal of the judge’s decision in this case.
I find the concept of judging our entire judicial system on one, single decision very biased and unfair. While the sentence handed out to Mr. Howe may be considered too lenient for the severity of the crime committed, let’s also recall other recent decisions, such as Judge Sylvio Savoie’s decision to give a sentence of five years in jail to a repeated drunk driver when the Crown asked for only four. I have personally met with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and support lowering the legal alcohol limit to .05.
I believe it is important to correct some information stated by Mr. Barnett and Mr. Innes in their letters published in the Times & Transcript. Contrary to what was stated, both my colleague Dominic LeBlanc and I voted on June 16, 2006, in support of Bill C-9, just as all Liberal Members of Parliament did. As of today, I still fully support the amended version of C-9, which calls for the end of conditional sentencing for over 250 serious offences. I also support harsher sentences as stated in Bills C-23 (Age of Consent), C-32 (Criminal Procedure) and a number of other Justice bills.
Furthermore, our party repeatedly offered to better protect Canadians by fast-tracking six justice bills. Each time we presented these offers, they were quickly rejected by the Conservative government. The Liberal Party was ready to support Bill C-9 (Conditional Sentencing); C-18 (DNA Identification); C-19 (Street Racing); C-22 (Age of Consent); C-23 (Criminal Procedure); and C-26 (Pay Day Loans). In fact, had the Harper government passed C-9, the decision in the Howe case would not have been permitted to happen.
Although some might be tempted to think that this “tough on crime” agenda is something new in the House of Commons, this is far from the truth. In fact, of these six important justice bills the Liberal Party offered to support and ensure swift passage, five of these bills originated with the previous Liberal government: C-9, C-18, C-19, C-23 and C-26. Just last month, we renewed our offer to fast-track these bills and were also ready to support C-35 (Reverse Onus in Bail Hearings).
Our Liberal Justice Critic, the Honourable Marlene Jennings, even introduced the Modernization of Investigative Techniques Act (MITA) to make it easier for law enforcement to intercept communications and prevent terrorist attacks from being planned.
I believe that to better fight crime and, more importantly, to prevent crime before people are harmed, we need to increase funding and resources to rehabilitation and training programs, and to invest in early childhood education. The Liberal Party has also committed to hiring more police officers to protect our streets.
Let’s face it: the recent Conservative attacks aimed at portraying the Liberal Party of Canada as being soft on crime have nothing to do with creating a fairer, stronger judicial system. The Conservative Party’s only goal is to pursue a partisan agenda and its own electoral interests.
It is time that the Conservative government reveal its true agenda, which is to control judges and put an end to judicial independence, the cornerstone of our society. The first blow was to end the funding of the Law Commission of Canada. The next step was to change the constitution of the Judicial Advisory Committees in order to control who gets nominated to the bench.
The integrity of our entire judicial system shouldn’t be judged on one decision but on the totality of its decisions. Justice is not a partisan tool and should ever be used as part of a political agenda.