Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Reaping what we sow

David Frum (former speechwriter to President Bush) is a native Canadian. In light of the recent elections in Canada, his article from several weeks ago is an interesting eye-opener.

After a spate of murders shocked our neighbor to the north, liberal prime minister Paul Martin blamed the United States for "exporting" guns and criminal elements to Canada. But, Frum shows that it's Canada with the crime problem.

But those 78 Toronto homicides in 2005 represent a 28% increase over the 61 homicides recorded in Toronto in 1995. Meanwhile, the three U.S. cities cited by the Star each achieved dramatic decreases over the past decade: Chicago down 46% from 823, Washington down 46% from 365, Baltimore down 17% from 322.

More broadly: Canada's overall crime rate is now 50% higher than the crime rate in the United States. Read that again slowly -- it seems incredible, but it's true. It's true too that you are now more likely to be mugged in Toronto than in New York City.

It seemed during the Canadian campaign that there was a smugness among liberal politicians that America is a big, bad cesspool of gunslingers that is threatening their peaceful way of life. Perhaps the Canadian government should have done more to protect its citizens instead of engaging in demagoguery and pandering rhetoric. As Frum points out...

The overwhelming majority of Americans, however, live in places that are becoming steadily safer. Since the early 1990s, crime rates have dropped in 48 of the 50 states and 80% of American cities. Over that same period, crime rates have risen in six of the 10 Canadian provinces and in seven of Canada's 10 biggest cities.

America did have a huge crime problem - and today's problems are nothing to scoff at. However, after crime took off in the 1960's and exploded in the 1980's politicians of all stripes began to realize that criminals had to be dealt with on way or another. The message has not yet reached Canada according to Frum.

Over a decade of successful crime-fighting in the U.S., criminologists and police departments have learned some important lessons.

Bluntly: prison works. Criminals do not commit crimes while they are held in prison. Yet a Canadian criminal is 80% less likely to go to jail than his American counterpart.

Putting police on the streets works. Yet Canada employs 25% fewer police officers per capita than the United States. Enforcing laws against vagrancy, prostitution and drug dealing works. Yet Canada is either decriminalizing or tolerating all three.

Here's is Frum's assessment of Canada's crime situation. (Remember, Canada has a gun ban!)

It is not guns from across the border that threaten Canadians. It is the weak and cynical policies of home-grown politicians, and especially the Chretien/Martin Liberals. The $2-billion wasted on the gun registry could have paid for more cops, more prisons, more of everything that would protect the lives and security of Canadians.

Now that Stephen Harper has led the conservatives to victory, let's see if he is able to help Canadians really fight crime.

Canada National Post: Reaping What We Sow, by David Frum


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