Update & New Action: Thursday Dec 8, 2011
On Monday, Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative MPs voted for the cruel Crime Bill. That night, the NDP, Liberal, Bloc and Green MPs stood together against the bill, and many of them were wearing “Safer, not meaner” buttons in solidarity with our campaign.
Now, the struggle for Canadian justice moves to the Senate. The Senate’s job is to provide a “sober second thought.” Senators are appointed for life, and free to make their own choices. They can review the evidence, change the bill, and force another vote.
Every day, opposition grows as Canadians learn more about the Crime Bill, but Prime Minister Harper is putting enormous pressure on Senators to rubber-stamp the bill quickly so it can pass before Christmas. There is only one thing that can balance the scales: a massive public outcry from Canadians like you, right now.
Send an urgent message to the Senators that represent your province, asking them to rise above partisan politics, look at the evidence, and make Canada safer, not meaner.
Together, you are taking on the strongest force in Canadian politics: a newly elected government with a majority of seats working to pass a core plank of its election platform on a hot-button issue.
And, thanks to your messages to your representatives, your letters to the editor, your local actions, and your phone calls, we have helped shift the national conversation decisively against this bill in a way that no one thought possible just a few months ago.
Catherine Latimer, the Executive Director of the amazing John Howard Society of Canada, just wrote about this shift:
“Organizations like the John Howard Society, which have been lampooned for simply advocating for effective, just, and humane responses to the causes and consequences of crime, sense a change in the winds. More and more people have been persuaded by the evidence and are speaking up for a more effective, fairer, and less mean approach to achieving our shared objective of reducing crime than is proposed in Bill C-10.” 
Don’t let anyone tell you that this is over!
On Tuesday, Newfoundland’s Justice Minister spoke out firmly against the Crime Bill, saying it has not been properly studied, and the actual costs will be “astronomical”.  On Wednesday, Grand Chief Derik Nepinak of Manitoba’s Assembly of Chiefs, called a national press conference to say that the bill’s mandatory sentences would continue the legacy of residential schools, and must be opposed. Nepinak said that “instead of investing in jails we need to invest in healing.” 
The Manitoba Chiefs are calling on our Senate to provide the sober second thought that our country so desperately needs. Let’s join them.
This action is about checks and balances. Remember that every time you write, every time you speak out, you give people the courage to join you. You give people courage to speak truth to power. And we are so grateful to you, because to change the world, we must first change the conversation.
It's time to speak out, and ask your province’s Senators to rise above partisan politics, look at the evidence, and make Canada safer, not meaner.
Update: Friday Nov 25, 2011
Thank you so much to everyone who volunteered helping to deliver this petition to over 160 MPs constituency offices yesterday and today. The media coverage has been fantastic. Check out our media page for some of the highlights.
Across Canada, experts are speaking out against the massive, cruel Crime Bill that our Conservative government is rushing through Parliament.1 Even conservative Texans are warning Canada not to follow America’s failed path of mandatory sentences and massive prison expansion.2
Now, we need a huge public outcry to stop the bill, and make Canada safer, not meaner.
Experts agree that the Crime Bill would make Canada a more dangerous place by filling new prisons with people who should not be there. Instead, experience shows that we should focus on proven strategies to prevent crime, rehabilitate people and reintegrate them into society.1,3 The stakes are huge: if this bill passes we’ll be spending billions to trap people and create a permanent underclass of Canadians with little hope for a better life.4
The good news is that more and more Canadians are speaking out and public opinion is close to a decisive shift. We need to strengthen each other’s voices to show the Conservative government that they must choose a better path, or pay a serious political cost for a cruel Crime Bill that will make Canada a meaner and more dangerous place.
Mandatory sentences and prison expansion backfired in the United States, a country with only 5% of the global population and 25% of all the world’s prisoners. Today, state after state is in crisis and is repealing those laws.2
One conservative Texan, Judge John Creuzot of the Dallas County Court, has warned us, saying: “You will spend billions and billions and billions on locking people up. And there will come a point in time where the public says, ‘Enough!’ And you’ll wind up letting them out.”2
We all want to make Canada safer. Yes, there is a role for punishment that is proportionate to the crime and wisely chosen for the circumstance. However, in the vast majority of cases, rehabilitation is better than long jail sentences. Canada’s focus on prevention and rehabilitation has already brought crime rates to historic lows.3,5
Every billion dollars our federal government forces our provinces to spend on new prisons is a billion dollars that could have been spent preventing crimes by supporting programs for at-risk youth, drug and alcohol treatment programs, and strategies for mental health.
Send a message now that you want to stop this bill, and establish an independent commission of diverse citizens and experts to create a 21st century Canadian justice plan.
The Crime Bill represents a creeping erosion of Canada’s social fabric. We know that millions of Canadians believe that prevention and restorative justice - approaches that make sure the victim’s needs are met and the community is healed - should be the heart of Canadian justice.
This Crime Bill would move us in the wrong direction. Who benefits from one-size-fits-all punishments? Who benefits from massive prison expansion? Who benefits from throwing more of Canada’s youth, poor, and mentally ill in prison?
The Crime Bill would raise the cost of filing for a pardon from $150 to $600. Why? That money wont pay for new prisons, it will keep poor people from getting jobs.
It’s time we speak out together. Send your message now.