Pubdate: Fri, 25 Sep 2015
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2015 The StarPhoenix
Page: A7


Crime and security issues are proving to be some of the most divisive 
in this election.

Should police be granted expanded powers to stop terrorists, or 
should privacy be paramount? Should we legalize pot? What about 
Canada's record on missing and murdered aboriginal women?

Here are four things you should know about crime and security to help 
you decide how to cast your ballot.

Bill C-51

The Conservatives' controversial bill has become a lightning rod, 
dividing the Canadian public. It proposes to expand police and spy 
powers in an effort to protect Canada from potential terrorist 
threats. Critics like Tom Mulcair's NDP say the bill tramples on 
Charter protections, gives spies and police too much power, and 
constitutes an invasion of privacy.

The bill has proved more troublesome for the Liberals.

"The Liberal support of that was surprising and I think was a 
misjudgment by the party," said Charles Smith, a political science 
professor at St. Thomas More College.

In the intervening months, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has said he 
would amend the bill and make sure there is proper oversight to put 
an end to any potential abuse of power stemming from the new law. 
Still, Smith said, support of the bill could hurt the Liberals on 
election night. Missing and murdered indigenous women

According the RCMP, at least 1,200 indigenous women have been 
murdered or have gone missing in Canada since 1980.

Activists, First Nations leaders and provincial premiers have called 
on Stephen Harper's Conservatives to launch a full-scale inquiry, but 
the ruling party has refused.

Both Trudeau and Mulcair have promised an inquiry, which they say is 
necessary. Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill says the social 
conditions that lead to so many aboriginal women going missing or 
being killed need to be addressed and action is needed, he said.

Marijuana legalization

Trudeau is in favour of all-out legalization of marijuana. Mulcair is 
in favour of decriminalizing the drug so that police quit throwing 
people in jail for simple possession. Harper wants to keep pot 
illegal, but, according to the National Post, may be open to making 
simple marijuana possession a ticketable offence instead of a criminal charge.

Still, if either the NDP or the Liberals gain power, Canada could see 
one of the largest changes to drug laws in decades. Liberals haven't 
hammered out their plan in detail, but they are promising provisions 
that would prevent minors from obtaining the drug. They also say it 
could be a significant source of tax revenue if the drug is regulated.

Tough on crime laws

With the promise of harsher penalties for criminals, the tough on 
crime mantra is the bread and butter of the Conservative re-election 
platform. Harper has tried to introduce mandatory minimum jail 
sentences for certain crimes and has introduced a 'life means life' 
law that dictates people given a life sentence should serve a life 
sentence without parole.

Smith says even with the mountains of evidence that harsher prison 
sentences do nothing to stop criminals or make Canada safer, crime 
and punishment is still an issue that pulls at the heartstrings of 
Canadian voters.

Smith said it can be difficult for the NDP and the Liberals to 
explain their more "nuanced" positions that generally favour 
rehabilitation over punishment.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom