Harper Government inspired by the state’s crime policies
Illustration by Tina Wallace
(Editor’s note: The original print version of the article contained editorial revisions that were not consistent with facts on which this piece of satire was based and were neither written nor intended by the author.)
A clause changing our country’s name to the Dominion of California has been passed by the House of Commons after it was included as part of a Nov. 25 omnibus bill.
Prime Minister Stevie Harper justified the controversial legislation in an exclusive interview with the Tomato.
“We admire the direction California has taken with its world-renowned tough-on-crime policies,” said Harper. “We wanted to express our appreciation for California’s ground-breaking legislation, and signal our willingness to do whatever it takes to put more Canadians behind bars for longer periods of time.”
Bob Lawbla, a professor of domestic affairs at the University of Ottawa, is one of many critics who have attacked the name change as just another piece of legislation the Conservative government has been able to bury in omnibus bills.
“You’d be amazed at the stuff they’re putting in these massive bills,” said Lawbla. “You can’t expect politicians to actually read through the full bills either. Taxpayers don’t elect MPs to read.”
According to Justice Minister Peter O’Kay, the name change is mainly a way to garner votes.
“Despite our majority status,” he said. “Only about one-third of Canadians voted for us.”
After studying polls that suggest fear of crime is an excellent political and rhetorical tool for garnering votes, the Conservative government sought out the most repressive crime legislation among democratic countries and came up with the state of California as a model.
“Since hockey is our national sport, it made more sense for us to implement mandatory minimum sentences,” said O’Kay. “A mandatory minimum sentence is a lot like getting a major penalty.”
Mandatory minimum sentences, which require those convicted of a crime to be imprisoned for a minimum length of time, are intended to deter offenders and reduce judges’ discretion.
Despite the unforgiving nature of California’s three-strikes legislation, which requires that a third felony conviction be given a life sentence regardless of the severity of the offences, two-thirds of California’s prisoners reoffend.
In fact, California’s prison system is so overcrowded that it has drawn criticism from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and has been ordered by the state’s Attorney General to find ways to release and/or reduce the number of prisoners.
“Given our antipathy toward evidence-based research, we weren’t deterred by the fact that Californians are calling the three-strikes legislation a great big stupid expensive mistake,” said O’Kay. “Despite the fact that mandatory minimum sentences have been found to violate charter rights and fail to deter criminal activity, we believe this approach is representative of Canadian values.”