Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Harper's billion dollar crime agenda: More out of control spending

Ottawa – With the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirming today that just one of the Harper government’s crime bills will cost a fortune more than what the government claimed – and that provinces will have to pay for it – Liberals are calling for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to immediately provide his department’s estimates to Parliament so Canadians can see the truth.
“What else can we expect in the Conservative culture of deceit but a lack of cooperation and disclosure,” said Liberal Public Safety Critic Mark Holland. “The Conservatives talk about ‘truth in sentencing’ – well, how about some truth in accountability?”
“Instead of leaving Parliament in the dark, the government should have been up front with Canadians about the costs – and not just for this one bill, but their entire tough-on-crime agenda.  They need to come clean on the total cost – including to the provinces – and where they propose to get the money from.
“The costs cannot be dumped on taxpayers and the provinces.  The Conservatives must sit down with the provinces and territories to address their very legitimate concerns about how these initiatives are going to be funded,” said Mr. Holland.
Bill C-25, the Truth in Sentencing Act, will cost $10-13 billion over five years, costing the federal government more than $1 billion a year to implement and maintain, plus an estimated $5-8 billion cost to the provinces over 5 years.  The Conservatives initially claimed the bill would cost a mere $90 million, but later revised that figure under pressure to $2 billion over 5 years.
“$90 million is only a fraction of the total cost, which could be as high as $2 billion annually,” said Mr. Holland. “The remainder of the bill for this government’s U.S.-style super-prison system will have to be picked up by the provinces and territories. And, as the PBO report points out, the government has no plans to supply transfer payments to assist them.”
Other highlights of the report include:
• The Harper government’s refusal to disclose their costing for this legislation, and their continued insistence that it is a ‘cabinet confidence,’ forced Parliament to vote on the bill blindly;
• There remain serious questions about what the government has set aside in the fiscal framework, whether or not the funds allocated will be sufficient, and if they even conducted a proper costing of this bill.
“If this is the cost of just one of their crime bills, I can’t even begin to imagine how much the 13 bills currently on the legislative agenda will cost taxpayers,” concluded Holland.

Justine Villeneuve
Office of Mark Holland, M.P.

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