(This column was published in the North Shore News on Dec. 6, 2000)


Liberals dodge hard line on law and order

By Leo Knight

ONE of the puzzling things to emerge from the election was the inability of the various parties to nail down the prime minister on law and order issues.  


I find this interesting largely because the federal Liberals are extremely vulnerable on these issues. Look for a moment at the riding of Justice Minister Anne McLellan in Edmonton West.  


On the weekend, just days after the election when voters returned McLellan to the Commons, Edmonton police issued a public advisory on a sex offender who had just been released back into the community. The 63-year-old man had served two-thirds of his sentence when he was released a year ago on mandatory supervision parole.  


Within 24 hours he was found in breach of his parole by Edmonton police and returned to prison to serve the rest of his sentence. No surprise there. What does surprise is that the man has more than 90 convictions in his storied criminal career. Yes, you read that right. Ninety.  


So now he is out again and released into the minister's own riding, and the police have issued a public warning about the man. Edmonton police say the chances the man will re-offend are 100 per cent.  


I wonder how the father of the girl who will be the next sexual assault victim of this man will feel about his MP then.  


The system is powerless to protect the public from a predator like this. Why? Because your federal government will not address the issue.  


But it's not just the adult system that is broken in cases like this. There is a 15-year-old boy in the Mount Seymour area of North Vancouver who is a virtual one-man crime wave.  


In the past two years, he has been arrested numerous times and convicted nine times of criminal offences ranging from theft to possession of stolen property to break and enter. Each time he is convicted he is put on yet another period of probation and more conditions set.  


In June of this year he was arrested for breaching his court-imposed conditions and was then given more conditions, which he will breach again. His mother then sent him off out of province to live with his grandparents. Within a week their residence had been broken into.  


A short time later he was arrested for possession for the purposes of trafficking. The court released him on some more conditions.  


The interesting thing here is that in the time the boy was away, the property crime stats in the Mount Seymour area went way down while the numbers in the neighbourhood his grandparents live in went way up. You don't suppose there is a connection, do you?  


For those of you who haven't had your car broken into or your house ransacked in the past few months, I suppose I should tell you this kid is now back in his North Vancouver home. Still, I might add, being guided by those same court-imposed conditions.  


There may be those of you who think I am being too harsh when I say this, but it is reality. Some people are beyond hope. There is nothing the system can do to change that. Nothing.  


Let's be realistic here. Don't you think that at some point prior to the 90th conviction someone should say, "Hey, lock that sucker up and throw away the key." And what about our little friend in Seymour? He's already got nine convictions, many more arrests and God knows how many offences he never got caught committing. At his current pace, he should reach the 90th conviction before he's 25 or 26.  


A police officer said to me the other day, "Three strikes and you're out might be a bit harsh, but what about 10 strikes and you're out. That doesn't seem unreasonable does it?"  


Not to me. But, judging from the way the Liberals dodged the issue in the election campaign, it does to them.  





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