Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Chilliwack Times Nov 29, 2011)


So let me get this straight


 By John Martin


It's Monday morning and I'm a bit confused.

It has become the norm to shun and ostracize people who smoke. They are to be sneered at, vilified and generally held in contempt.

Meanwhile, we are supposed to respond to heroin, cocaine and other addicts with support and compassion.

So let me get this straight.

Cigarette smokers are supposed to go and huddle and shiver in the rain if they need their nicotine. But apparently we now have a Supreme Court ordered duty to supply intravenous drug users with government funded, climate controlled injection facilities?

Lawyers, academics, activists and most of the country's journalists are going ballistic over the federal government's new crime legislation.

They're aghast that the revised laws will crack down on repeat offenders, order mandatory sentences and generally play hardball with criminals.

Meanwhile, there is near unanimous praise for tougher drinking and driving rules that punish people who haven't even gone over the legal limit.

So let me get this straight.

Punishment doesn't work against drug dealers and thieves. But it works against people who have had a few drinks and get into their car?

There is a fiscal crisis in the administration of justice. We don't have enough judges, sheriffs or prosecutors to run the courts in an efficient manner. Consequently, charges are being thrown out and cases are being dismissed on account of the backlog.

Meanwhile we have the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that prosecutes comedians, journalists and others who may have hurt some hyper-sensitive soul's feelings.

So let me get this straight.

We have to let drug dealers walk away due to lack of resources but we can come down with the full weight of the human rights legislation against anyone who dares exercise politically incorrect free speech?

We have strict enforcement of laws that require motorists to be equipped with chains or snow tires as soon as they drive past a particular point during winter. Road conditions are hazardous and we don't want to take any chances. There are fines and other consequences for non-compliance.

Meanwhile, police routinely release warning advisories that a dangerous offender or sexual predator has moved into a neighbourhood.

So let me get this straight.

We can't take a chance on someone with summer tires heading up the Fraser Canyon for a drive but we're willing to play the odds with violent criminals and sex offenders who are deemed high risk?

During the height of the Mad Cow scare several years ago, there was a telling parable that made the Internet rounds. There were thousands; possible tens of thousands, of bogus refugee claimants who had disappeared and authorities had no idea where they were or if they were even still in the country.

Meanwhile, Agriculture authorities were able to track the source of the beef infection to a single Canadian born cow that somehow ended up in Yakima.

At some point in the very near future, we're going to have to reevaluate our priorities.

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


Prime Time Crime

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