Is Canada soft on crime?

I love living in Canada. I was born here, raised here. Perhaps because of that, there are a lot of great things about Canada that I take for granted. Things like our criminal justice system.
I’ve heard people say that Canada needs to get tougher on crime. They say that our laws are soft on criminals. That ¬†it’s too easy for a good criminal defence lawyers to “get his client off.” There are too many loopholes. In other words, that the Canadian criminal justice system is flawed.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the system is perfect. Then again, I don’t know of any perfect system. There are things that I’d like to change. But for the most part, I believe we have a great criminal justice system.
What makes it great?
I say that the presumption of innocence makes our criminal justice system pretty great. What a concept! You’re innocent until you’re proven guilty! That’s not the case everywhere in the world, but it is the case in Canada (and the United States and other countries that have similar justice systems).
There’s more good stuff.
You’re guaranteed a fair trial. A trial where the evidence against you can be tested to see if is reliable. A trial where only properly obtained evidence is admitted against you. If the evidence was improperly obtained, it can be thrown out.
And it gets better!
There has to be enough admissible evidence (properly obtained evidence) to show that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”. What does that mean? It means that the judge or jury must be “sure” that you committed the crime. It’s not good enough if they suspect you did it, or think that maybe you did it. If they’re not sure, you must be found “not guilty”.
Now you may have heard some people say that this kind of system works great – to protect criminals. It’s true that in some cases guilty people “get off” because the prosecution can’t prove it’s case beyond a reasonable doubt.
That’s the price we pay for having a system that is designed to protect the innocent. And that’s what the system is designed to do. Protect the innocent.
We want to ensure that only the guilty are punished. We recognize that sometimes the system will work in a guilty persons favour. But we’d rather have it that way, than see innocent people punished for something they didn’t do.
And even in our system, a system with safeguards that are designed to protect an innocent person from wrongful ¬†convictions, sometimes we still get it wrong. We convict the innocent, and punish them for crimes that they didn’t commit. We fine them and jail them and they have their lives stolen from them by the system. It’s not until years later that we learn of their innocence, through new technology (DNA), or some other bit of information that shows us that we got the wrong guy.
I said that it’s a great system. I never said it was a perfect system.
Yet even with this imperfect system, a system that sometimes fails, people from around the world still want to call Canada, or a country like Canada, home.
People “flee” or “escape” from their homelands to come here. Right now it’s the Tamils. Tomorrow it will be someone else from somewhere else. From places where people are arbitrarily detained, or punished for holding an unpopular belief. Places that are less concerned with protecting the rights of the individual, innocent or not.
And that’s one of the reasons that people flee to Canada, not from it.
They come here not because we Canadians are soft on crime. But because we value the individual, and we respect individual rights.
I don’t believe that Canadians are soft on crime, but what do you think?
And remember, I never said that the Canadian justice system is perfect. There are things I’d change, but I’d like to hear your ideas. How would you change the criminal justice system to make it better?

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7 Responses to “Is Canada soft on crime?”

  1. Carol Crocker says:

    Having some experience with our justice system I appreciate that we have a system that does recognize the rights and responsibilities of all its citizens. I’m glad there is protection for the accused and the abused. I can understand why some people want to send the accused off to jail without due process especially when you know what the accused person actually did do. It was a learning experience for me. In my case, all I ever wanted was for him to be placed in a sexual abuse rehabilitation centre so he could learn about his harmful activities and stop them. I didn’t want him to do to others what he did to me. I didn’t see any use in him going to jail because he had been there before and started abusing me once he was released. I don’t see how jail reduces the recidivism. Unless our justice system fills these jails with social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and survivors of child sexual abuse to work with the perpetrators they won’t change. Isn’t it the goal to create a healthier country? I could write a book on my experience. Thank you. for listening.

  2. Mark says:

    I agree with you that it’s all about creating a healthier country. My view is that one of the ways to achieve this is to promote open dialogue surrounding criminal law.

    Criminal law is certainly a hot topic. Almost monthly I receive a flyer from a political party outlining their proposal to “get tough on crime”. This usually means more police, more jails and harsher sentences. Great vote getters, I’m sure. But it takes the focus away from prevention and rehabilitation and puts the emphasis on punishment. Don’t get me wrong. Punishment has its place. But if we can prevent crimes from taking place in the first place, we’d be further ahead.

    When someone does break the law, we want to hand out an appropriate punishment AND try to ensure that they don’t do it again. Unfortunately prevention and rehabilitation don’t hit the same emotional cord with most people as does retribution.

    We all want to live in a safe world. We also want to live as freely as possible.

    Let’s keep putting our opinions and beliefs out there. Through an open dialogue and discussion, I believe we can create and maintain a healthy criminal justice system.

  3. Evan M. says:

    Let me say this much before I rant: I am a Canadian citizen, born and raised in Canada, by all Canadian parents. I have no prejudises, and no baises. I am just purely acting upon not only what the media chooses to show, but what they don’t show too.

    I agree that the “innocent upon proven guilty” law is helpful in SOME situations. On the other hand, I think that we all agree there are some cases where you can get a good gauge on innocence just from what the story is. For example, if I hear that an immigrant who had been in our country for a total of 12 hours has been accused of robbery, I think we can all sense that there is some prejudice here. As well, I think that if we hear that a convicted multiple rapist, who was released because of good behavior, is on trial for the kidnapping of a small child, I think that pleading “Not Guilty” isn’t going to help.

    There was one case in Calgary (my home city) where a man WAS in fact, a multiple rapist, and was put in trial, convicted and sent to jail for “life”. I’ll get back to the “life” comment later, but for now, lets focus on the guy. He was sent to jail, and within 36 months, was released upon good behavior. Now, first of all, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS GUY DOING OUT ANYWAY?!?! After that, he proceded to go, within a week of his arrest, to a crowded shopping mall, and, upon seeing a 5-year-old girl standing alone, had the ol’ sick feeling again. He walked over to the girl, said “Come with me, I’m a police officer” (A direct Stephen King line) and picked the girl up, and started to walk away. When the girl started to cry, he told her that he would arrest her if she didn’t shut up. Then, he took her to his car, wher (miraculously) he DIDN’T rape her, but instead proceded to drive away from the mall. About 3-4 hours later, he was pulled over BY A COP, who took out his license, DIDN’T NOTICE that the was a previously CONVICTED RAPIST, didn’t care that was a small girl, CRYING in the seat next to him, and LET HIM DRIVE AWAY!!! When the guy WAS caught, he was convicted, and again, RELEASED (There is something wrong here), and when he went to a neighborhood to find a house, HIS NAME WASN’T RELEASED!!! WHY!!!!

    Another case, even more well known, involved an act of justice so horrific that it makes me wonder if the Americans are onto something with the Death Penelty (get to that later). This guy, Daniel Tschetter, was a 50-year-old cement driver who (is this sounding familiar yet?) proceded to DRIVE DRUNK, from his WORK PLACE, in a WORK VEHICLE, SIGNED OUT, and drove to the intersection of MacLeod Trail and 194 Avenue Southwest, where, he proceded to T-Bone a car stopped at a red light, and continued to drive as if nothing happened.
    In the Meantime, several things happened at once:
    1) The person driving behind the driver, who had already called the “How’s My Driving?” number on the back of the cement truck, and was talking to the operator when the operator said he screamed “‘oh my God!’ He has just gone through a red light and he has just hit a car, T-boned a car. Call 911. I have to hang up.”
    2) The car who the cement mixer hit, was wedged UNDER THE TRUCK, thrown 300 METERS down the highway, and smacked by the truck AS IT CONTINUED THROUGH!

    Now, I know you guys are thinking “Well, he was drunk. That’s and excuse to get him off, right?” NO. Not at all. After Daniel realized what he had done, he stopped, and at this point was sober enough to see the sirens, hear the cops telling him to pull over, and, quick as a cat, pulled over, and tossed the bottles he has been drinking into the back of the mixer, destroying the evidence.

    Don’t you guys DARE say “Oh, he was scared he was going to be convicted.” NO SHIT!!! SO WHAT?!!? YOU THINK THAT MAKES IT ALRIGHT?! NO!!!

    When the cops caught up, they told him to provide a breath sample. He refused. They took him down to the station, and booked him. When he was put on trial, he pleaded NOT GUILTY. When he was convicted, the judge gave the sentance of 10 YEARS!!! THAT’S IT?!?! And here’s the best part: HE WAS OUT IN TWO YEARS!!!

    Back on the streets, ready to terrorize again. Don’t say, “Well, he can’t drive without a license, which was taken away.” WRONG. He can drive, just not leaglly. If you are the kind of guy who can run over and kill a family of 5, including 2 parents and 3 CHILDREN!! You have no moral conscience.

    This man should have been in for life.

    Now, I want you to understand a few things about Canada’s justice system.

    1) “For Life” doesn’t mean the same thing in the States that they call “For Life.” In Canada, “For Life” means 25 years. That’s 25 years to get bitter, mean, toughned by jail, plot more crimes, make friends of the wrong sort on the inside and outside, and then get out even more angry and bitter, and twice as willing to get back at the world that put him in jail. People don’t learn how to become better people in jail. They just become worse. In the States, “For Life” means that they don’t let you out until they see your body rotting on the jail floor. I believe that this should be the case in Canada.

    IF YOU HAVE DONE SOMETHING SO TERRIBLE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SENTENCED TO JAIL FOR LIFE, YOU STAY IN THERE FOR LIFE.

    2) YCJA. The bane of the adult existance. I am a youth, and I still believe that if you are a teenager, you should have the same rights as an adult, and nothing more. Now, that is a bit broad. They don’t put 3-year-olds in jail for murdering there brother (and yes, there was a case.) But, if you are at least 12, you have enough brains to know right from wrong. If you don’t then you deserve to be in jail, and kept out of society.

    IF YOU ARE 12 AND OLDER, YOU SHOULDN’T GET OFF WITH A SLAP ON THE WRIST AND A TALKING. IF YOU MURDER, RAPE, COMMIT ARSON, AND ALL BUT ANY PETTY CRIME, YOU GET TREATED AS AN ADULT WHO COMMITED THE CRIME, AND YOU DON’T GET OUT OF IT.

    TEENAGERS WHO MURDER AND RAPE, AND COMMIT ARSON SHOULD HAVE THEY’RE NAME RELEASED! I WANT TO KNOW WHO THEY ARE, SO I CAN AVOID THEM.

    3) I DO NOT agree with the death penelty. I believe this for a couple of reasons:
    a) If you are a criminal, even the worst criminal, you always have the Right to Life. God/Budda/a deity/creation/ect. gave you this Right, and no one, NO ONE should have the right to take it away.
    b) Killing a murderer is redundant. “An eye for an eye only make the world blind.”
    c) I am a moral person, and I couldn’t live with that kind of taxpayers-money spent on something like that.
    d) This is the most strong reason of all: DEATH IS AN ESCAPE FOR THESE PEOPLE. THEY KNOW THAT IN JAIL, THEY WILL SUFFER. THEY WILL BE MADE TO RETHINK THEIR ACTIONS. THEY WILL BE MADE TO REPENT.

    THEY DON’T WANT THIS.

    THEY WANT TO DIE, TO ESCAPE THIS ETERNAL PAIN.

    Thank you for reading my reasons why the Canadian Justice System is Flawed.

  4. sandra says:

    I was about to be convicted of a criminal case in Maine and was about a few days to the court case when a friend introduced to someone who he thought could help me out..I never believed in magic or miracles until this happened..Hours to the court verdict,something happened and my case was withdrawn for no apparent or legal reasons…I don’t no how or what happened but I was never convicted..he made it happen..everything changed for me..if you do need a change like I did,because we all need some at some point in our lives,this is is address: [email protected]

  5. Mark says:

    Most likely there was a legal reason that the case was dropped. For instance, maybe the prosecutor learned that an essential witness was unavailable or unreliable. There are cases that are dropped for reasons that the prosecutor doesn’t want to make public. I’m not saying that’s what happened in your case. It’s just a likely scenario. Most people would go for the tried and true method of contacting a criminal lawyer, but if magic or miracles worked for you in this case … congratulations.

  6. Dale says:

    The question “Is Canada soft on crime?”

    My short answer yes. If you are a victim of serious crime in Canada (I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse), than you would totally know what I’m talking about. In Canada it’s the real “shits” to be a victim of crime because it’s ALL about the criminal and “their” rehabilitation, basicly very little thought is there for the victim. The punishment given is “only” thinking about the “criminal” not the “victim”. It took 16 years to get to court, after I went forward about the phedophile that raped me over 200 times when I was a child. It’s in it’s 17th year now, and he is out on “bail” awaiting the results of his appeal. Everyone knows he’s guilty (he even admitted it in court), yet HE is out on bail, and I’m still serving the life sentence of suffering as a victim of child sexual abuse. If I didn’t have children to think about I would leave Canada in a second (I was born here and am a 10th generation). Canada “sucks” when it comes to being a victim of crime, although it’s a great place if you are a criminal. Who would want to live in a place that welcomes (is soft on) criminals (besides criminals)?

  7. Singh says:

    Canada is too soft on criminals like intruders, child abuse and first degree murders. First degree murders execution is the answer not a free life after few years. You can not protect your property here, intruders can sue you if you harm them (what a shit, this makes me sick). Immigration law is a joke here. Criminals in some useless country can buy a boat with few of their useless criminals friends and can come to this country and can get immigration easily by filing refugee claim (what a joke). Gangsters are out in few years. Murderers are spending vacations in jails on taxpayers money (execute those useless we don’t need those). Loop holes and stupid laws ……list goes on….. a Canadian citizens\tax payers are sick of these laws.

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