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Dan A. Novick

Ontario Grits catch breath after ‘smokes for votes’

The Ontario Liberals’ operational vice-president Nikki Holland resigned 1 October in the last week of campaigning before Thursday’s provincial election. This came in the wake of the release of an audio recording of Holland admitting that she once bribed homeless voters with cigarettes, reportedly from a 16 July training session.As expected, reaction from the comments was harsh, especially from PC leader Tim Hudak.“One of Dalton McGuinty’s top campaign officials was boasting about trading smokes for votes, about giving out cartons of cigarettes in exchange for votes. And that’s in violation of the law,” Hudak said.Holland’s exact words in the audio recording, according to the Toronto Sun, are as follows: “I have done crazy things, like […] and if anyone repeats this I’ll deny it [until] the cows come home […] I have gone to a shelter in the riding of St Paul’s with a carton of smokes and said, ‘I’ll give you them after you vote.’ I have done that […] but they were already smokers.”While Holland acknowledged she made the comments, she asserted in an email to the Toronto Sun that they were a joke, describing her comments as a “stupid mistake.” McGuinty called her comments “completely unacceptable,” but did not ask for his operational vice-president to step down.Hudak criticized McGuinty for not asking Holland to resign. “If this happened in my campaign, that person would be out the door.”In advance of the 6 October Ontario provincial election, the latest popular opinion poll from Angus-Reid, released on 1 October, shows Hudak neck-and-neck with the provincial Grits. The Tories are now at 34%, the Liberals at 33%, the NDP at 26%, and the Greens at 6%.How the popular vote will translate into seats remains to be seen. In an amalgam of recent polls from Nanos Research, Environics, Léger Marketing, and… Read More

Texas conservatives: Canada’s crime plan ineffective

Even conservatives in Texas, known as one of the most hawkish states on crime, say that the Conservative Party of Canada’s crime plan will not be effective. Says Representative Jerry Madden, a Republican who heads the Texas House Committee on Corrections, “It’s a very expensive thing to build new prisons and, if you build ’em, I guarantee you they will come. But if you don’t build ’em, they will come up with very creative things to do that keep the community safe.” These remarks are in accordance with the findings of Washington, D.C. experts who criticized the Harper government’s crime package, Bill C-10.The omnibus bill is a collaboration of nine crime bills that did not pass when the Conservative Party possessed only a minority government. It imposes mandatory minimum sentences for a range of offences. When passed, Bill C-10 will stipulate tougher penalties for drug offences, doubling sentences for the production of illegal drugs, including marijuana.Also imposed are tougher penalties for sexual offences against children, an end to conditional sentences (house arrest) for new offences, the elimination or delay in eligibility for pardons, tougher sentences for violent and repeat young offenders, more participation for victims of crime in parole decisions, and new powers for victims of terrorist acts to sue the perpetrators.According to Statistics Canada, the national crime rate has been decreasing for the past 20 years and has reached its lowest level since 1973. Total crime, representing nearly 2.1 million violations of the Criminal Code, fell 5% in 2009 from 2010. The Crime Severity Index also dropped 6% from 2009 to 2010.Deterrence as a model for justice has drawn criticism for its ineffectiveness in practice. For example, in 2004 Texas had 5% of its adult residents in jail, on parole, or on probation, which was the highest global incarceration… Read More