Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight week of Sept. 27, 2004)

Campbell Keeps One

  By John Martin

As evidence of the extent to which Gordon Campbell acknowledges his huge majority will likely be trimmed by some thirty or so seats in the next election, that is; if he even retains power, it looks like the Liberals are actually going to make good on a promise or two.

They backtracked on reducing welfare rolls, trimming the civil service, privatizing the liquor stores and just about everything else they campaigned on.  In almost every fight they buckled under and gave in to a big labour eager to hold the province and everyone in it economic hostage. But it seems the government is about to deliver on their commitment to helping municipalities and cities fight crime.

Campbell delivered the good news to civic leaders during the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention in Kelowna this past week.  The better part of $90 million dollars will be directed to local crime fighting initiatives and municipalities also learned the province will hand over 100% of all traffic fine revenue; much of which will be converted into safer street strategies.

Naturally the NDP and other small thinkers are throwing their usual hissy fit.  To these guys, safer streets means giving aggressive panhandlers cell phones. 

But civic politicians, local police forces and community groups should soon be in a better position to finance initiatives aimed at enhancing public safety, increasing local crime prevention strategies and addressing some of the incivilities that typically morph into serious public order issues.

The left love the sight of panhandlers littering the sidewalk.  They relish the opportunity to showcase what are typically small time criminals and addicts, as victims of repressive social policies.  Only by taking more money from people who work for a living and giving it to drug abusers, layabouts, artists that don’t like to get up before lunchtime and anyone else who figures that whining and complaining is their calling in life, can social justice be achieved. 

So they say.

Rather than fund training and resources for local crime prevention programs, they simply want to legalize drugs and raise taxes.  For the left, criminality is merely a lifestyle that should be tolerated and legitimized at every turn. 

Illegal occupation of private or public property?  No problem. Just give the keys and title to the squatters.

Addicts demanding spare change from frightened tourists?  Simple.  Give them drugs and money.

Residents too scared to go for a walk in their own neighbourhood?  Easy. Tell them to pack up and leave.  The druggies were there first. 

For the left, it is an outrageous and unforgivable insult to even raise the issue of citizen’s rights.  Offenders’ rights, panhandlers’ rights and drug users’ rights; these are the rights they recognize and champion. 

I recently attended a presentation by noted Criminologist James Q. Wilson, whose ideas are credited with cleaning up much of New York and Times Square.  He is an advocate of a highly visible police presence and public policies that make it abundantly clear that loitering, drug use, vandalism, etc. will not be tolerated on the streets.

Someone in the audience rudely shouted, “What about the rights of drug users?”

Wilson responded, “Frankly, I’m more concerned about the rights of law-abiding citizens to come and go as they choose without fear.”

While there was some applause, myself included, many in the room gasped in horror and one woman, a university teacher of course, yelled, “How dare you!”

How dare you, indeed.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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