by Stephen Dafoe
Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer released the third and last part of his party’s plan for A Safer Canada Monday.
Scheer’s third act is titled Equipping Police to Protect and includes six new policy measures the conservatives say will provide police with the resources they need to keep our communities safe.
“The men and women of our police forces work incredibly hard to keep us safe,” Scheer said in a media release. “We owe them a debt of gratitude for what they do – but more importantly, we owe them the resources they need to do their jobs.”
Scheer and the party cite recent data that shows Canada’s murder rate is at an almost decade-long high in Canada and that gang-related murders have been increasing over the past three years.
A recent CBC article indicated that while violent crime as a whole was down in Canada, gang-related violence was as violent as it ever was. According to the article, three-quarters of gang-related homicides involve guns, compared with only 20 per cent in non-gang-related homicides.
Scheer’s Equipping Police to Protect plan includes six policies.
One of the policies is to add new funding to fight gangs whereby the Conservatives would cost-share new anti-gang law enforcement initiatives with provinces and territories.
The Conservatives would also create a Police Infrastructure Grant program for the more than 70 municipal policing agencies in Canada. Scheer says his government would create a grant for those agencies who have less buying power than the RCMP to buy new equipment.
The Conservatives also want better information sharing to solve gun crimes and see the fact that Canadian police agencies operate under a patchwork of rules and procedures when it comes to tracking information on guns used in crime resulting in gaps in sharing information and intelligence that could help to solve crimes. Scheer says his plan would make sure information on weapons found at crime scenes is handed to the right authorities.
Scheer’s party are also calling for stronger background checks for gun licences, citing a recent audit of firearms licensing that shows lengthy delays both in issuing licences to law-abiding gun owners and in investigating risks to the public. Scheer says the Conservatives would ensure that the Canadian Firearms Program has what it needs to conduct rigorous and effective background checks.
Keeping young people from joining gangs is the Conservatives fifth policy in the plan. Earlier parts of the Conservative plan spoke to jailing gang members, but Scheer says the Conservatives want to stop youth from joining gangs in the first place.
Scheer says the party will increase the funds available for the Youth Gang Prevention Fund, which the Conservatives established in 2006, by 25 per cent. The monies are used to provide counselling, skills development, and other prevenatative programs.
Making prison time meaningful is the last of the plan’s policies. Scheer says there are no accountability measures on the $60 million spent annually on jobs and skills training for prisoners. The Conservatives say they would conduct an audit of all correctional services programs to “make sure inmates are ready to rejoin society upon their release.”