HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Harper Tough On Drug Crime
Pubdate: Sun, 04 Dec 2005
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Michelle Macafee, Canadian Press


Wants Longer Minimum Sentences

Conservative Leader is hugged by an enthusiastic young supporter 
Delenn Giraud, seven-years-old, as he attends a Conservative rally 
during a campaign stop in Victoria yesterday. (Fred Chartrand, CP)

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper set out his policy on crime and 
punishment yesterday while Prime Minister Paul Martin took a break 
from the election campaign.

For the fourth consecutive day, Harper rolled out a key plank in his 
platform, this time the drug-control section of his criminal justice 
agenda, with promises of mandatory prison sentences, stiffer fines 
and an end to conditional sentences.

"I want to talk about the values of a peaceful, orderly and safe 
society, and a problem none of the other parties seem to care about 
- -- the problem of crime and the threat it poses to our families and 
our communities," Harper said at a rec centre in Burnaby, B.C.

Among the Tory promises:

- - Minimum sentences of at least two years for trafficking, exporting, 
importing or producing heroin, cocaine or crystal meth or more than 3 
kilos of marijuana or hashish.

- - Eliminating conditional sentences, or house arrest, for all 
indictable drug offences.

- - A commitment not to reintroduce legislation to decriminalize marijuana.

- - Make it harder to get the chemicals needed to make crystal meth, 
such as ephedrine and cold remedies. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have 
adopted such a strategy.

Several studies have shown minimum mandatory sentences add an 
enormous cost burden to the corrections system without offering any 
clear deterrent.

But Harper said he wants to see concrete justice ideas that work. "I 
think common sense is that if you're serious about enforcing the law, 
you provide real penalties," he said. "And the evidence I've seen 
suggests that what works are penalties that are fairly certain, not 
penalties that will not in fact be imposed."

NDP Leader Jack Layton said his party is alone in offering a balanced 
approach to drug crime.

"We've got to get to the root causes of crime -- despair, poverty, 
addiction -- in our communities," Layton said in Vancouver. "That 
means we've got to put an equal emphasis on the prevention of crime 
in the first place, as we put on dealing with the results of crime at 
the end of the day."

Layton said the NDP will come out with its own criminal justice platform soon.
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