Lilley

Scandals fade, policy matters

By Brian Lilley

Parliament Hill is seen behind the Eternal Flame in Ottawa.(QMI Agency files)

Parliament Hill is seen behind the Eternal Flame in Ottawa.(QMI Agency files)

We have another flare-up in the ongoing Senate expense scandal — more e-mails, more claims on who knew what and when.

That is the stuff of scandal. It is salacious, people eat it up, but it isn’t policy and often policy, unlike scandal, can harm lives.

This week, Justin Trudeau announced his call to do away with mandatory minimum sentences includes those aimed at child molesters.

Mandatory minimums are about keeping people off the streets.

Justin Trudeau doesn’t believe in that, he believes in experts.

Earlier this week, the Liberal leader was asked a straightforward question about his plans to get rid of mandatory minimums.

QUESTION: Would you rule out repealing mandatory minimums for sexual crimes against children?

TRUDEAU: No, I wouldn’t rule out repealing mandatory minimums for anyone. I’m looking at opening ... listening to evidence, listening to experts, trusting the judiciary.

The judiciary? We have mandatory minimum sentences because the public, and their elected officials, felt judges were not handing down tough enough sentences. Trudeau’s own father passed several of them.

In fact, as Sun Media columnist Lorne Gunter has pointed out, the Liberals under Trudeau Sr. and Jean Chretien passed 38 mandatory minimums, the Harper government has passed 28.

Trudeau also wants to leave these decisions up to experts. You want to know what experts think? You won’t like it.

In February 2011, I covered the hearings into Bill C-54, the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act that raised several mandatory minimums for sexual offences against children from 45 days to one year.

Expert witnesses, including Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem from the University of Montreal, declared pedophilia was a sexual orientation like homosexuality or heterosexuality. Van Gijseghem wasn’t done there. He went so far as to say that possessing child pornography should not be an offence.

“ I am equally uncomfortable with the idea of having the possession of pornographic material included as a sexual offence,” Van Gijseghem said.

When Trudeau says listen to the experts, this is what he means, these are the types of people who are called before Parliament, before the courts to be experts.

Or how about Ed McIsaac of the John Howard Society who went before the same committee and said this: “The protection of society is best served through the timely, supportive reintegration of offenders back into our communities. Mandatory minimum sentences do not facilitate that process.” Whatever the “experts” might say, I put victims above criminals and believe the protection of society is best served by keeping perverts who would harm our children off the streets.

Trudeau Jr. is not alone in musing about getting rid of mandatory minimums. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said we need those kinds of sentences for repeat drunk drivers, but asked specifically about child molesters he said, “Sit down, look at the legislation, look at the evidence. ” Mandatory minimums for drunk drivers, yes. For child molesters, maybe.

Does any of this trouble you? Because it troubles me. Some might say Trudeau Jr. and Mulcair are just campaigning, just politicking, but I don’t see the point of politicking on an issue as serious as this.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — policy matters. We can talk about scandal until we are blue in the face, there will always be another one.

The policies these politicians implement in between their scandals have real-world implications and in this case, the safety of our children is what we are talking about.

 


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