Actions speak louder than words
October 22, 2012
Actions speak louder than words. Every politician claims to be tough on crime and to put victims first. We see the truth when it comes to voting in the House of Commons.
David Wilks, a Conservative Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia, put forward Bill C-299 that ensures any stranger kidnapping a child 16 years of age or younger would get a mandatory sentence of at least five years.
He was spurred to do this as a result of the kidnapping of 3-year-old Kienan Hebert last year in Sparwood, B.C. Most kidnappings in Canada involve parents and relatives taking children due to a custodial dispute, but this new law would not apply to them. Wilks wants to ensure kidnapping by a stranger gets a serious sentence and keeps the dangerous offender away from society for at least five years in a federal penitentiary.
When Bill C-299 came to the House of Commons for third reading last Wednesday every New Democratic Party, Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and Green Party MP voted against it.
If you are represented by the New Democrats Libby Davies, Don Davies, Fin Donnelly, Peter Julian, Jasbir Sandhu or Jinny Sims or by Liberals Joyce Murray or Hedy Fry — your MP just voted against getting tough on child kidnapping. Call or email their office and let them know how you feel.
But why did they vote against it? They must have had a good reason.
The NDP and Liberals say they oppose mandatory sentences. They say it is much better for judges to be allowed full discretion on how long someone is sent to jail. Judges can take the facts of the case and the behaviour of the kidnapper into account and come up with a fair sentence.
This ignores the reality that in many cases criminals have escaped serious punishment due to light sentences.
Of course, these same MPs actually do support some limits on how judges can sentence. There are already maximum sentences in the criminal code.
It seems they are not really objecting to the principle of limits on how judges sentence criminals but on putting bad people in jail for long periods of time.
A question for MPs who voted against Bill C-299: why do they think it is OK to have maximum amounts of time a criminal can be sent to jail for, but not to set minimum sentences? Let’s hope other MPs follow David Wilks and are not afraid to be tough on crime.
Originally published in 24 Hours Vancouver.