Conservatives not so tough on crime after all

The Conservatives talk a good game on crime and punishment, but are they really as ‘tough on crime’ as they claim? The overwhelming evidence of late says no.
This past week, while many Canadians are on vacation or otherwise not worried about what is happening in Ottawa, the Harper Conservatives’ loosened our corruption laws and reduced the penalty for firms convicted of bribery, corruption, or breach of trust.
The old rules for bidding on contracts awarded by the Ministry of Public Works and Government Services—the ministry responsible for nearly every aspect of federal spending from human resources to the construction of government buildings—were very straightforward.
If a company or its officers were found guilty of corruption, bribery, or breach of trust in Canada or abroad then it was banned for 10 years from bidding on federal government contracts.
In short, if you were convicted of corruption then you couldn’t gain access to our tax dollars for a very long time.
Now, I don’t know what happened in the numerous private meetings between Conservative officials and those businesses found guilty of corruption, but something caused them to loosen our laws.
Instead of a 10 year ban on being awarded a government contract, companies that are found guilty of bribery, corruption, or breach of trust must now wait just five years—and they must promise to not do it again.
We all want to see criminals behind bars, but I think it is clear that there is a double standard being applied by Conservatives.
You see, for Conservatives some forms of theft are “bad”—shoplifting, break-and-enter, and property theft to name a few.
On the other side of the Conservatives’ moral coin, violations of our election laws, breach of trust and corporate fraud are of no concern—at all.
Why is that?
If I had to guess, I would say that they want to take things easy on all of their friends. Here are just a few examples of high ranking and well connected Conservatives who have been found guilty or on trial for various forms of corruption, theft, and breach of trust;
•Arthur Porter—a former Conservative Party donor appointed by Stephen Harper as Chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee of Canada which reviews the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
In 2013 he was arrested in Panama on fraud charges, alleging he took part in a $22.5 million kick-back scheme related to the construction of McGill University Health Centre’s new $1.3 billion hospital.
•Michael Sona—a central figure in the Conservatives’ “Robocall Scandal,” he was charged with willfully preventing or endeavoring to prevent an elector from voting in an election (an offence under the Canada Elections Act) and found guilty in 2014.
It’s worth noting that Justice Hearn believed that Sona did not act alone and was likely working with other Conservatives in the commission of this crime.
•Dean Del Mastro—just last month this former Conservative MP, who Stephen Harper’s saw fit to appoint as his spokesperson and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, was convicted on three counts of breaking the Elections Act, including exceeding the election spending limit, exceeding his personal donation limit, and falsifying documents.
•Bruce Carson—a former aide and senior advisor to Prime Minister Harper was actually convicted of two counts of fraud in the 1980s and again in 1990—long before Mr. Harper decided to start taking his advice. To no one’s surprise, Carson was charged with influence peddling in 2012 by the RCMP.
In May 2014, Carson was further charged with three counts of prohibited lobbying and a single count of influence peddling. He is due in court in September.
And of course there is Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and eight other senators appointed by Mr. Harper who stand accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of your tax dollars, plus Harper’s former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright who tried to cover up these alleged crimes. And let’s not forget Brian Mulroney’s kickbacks, and well, you get the idea.
I believe all Canadians are equal before the eyes of the law.
Shoplifting from a supermarket, stealing from a neighbour’s yard, or bribing a government official for a contract you did not earn on merit are all wrong and examples of theft.
I think it’s time Canada finally had a government that knows right from wrong and upholds those values for all Canadians equally.
Canada’s New Democrats are ready to provide that moral leadership and the ethical government that we all deserve.