If passed, many provisions included in Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, will be implemented by the provinces and territories. Further eligibility restrictions for conditional sentences, new mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related offences under two years in length, and changes to how we respond to youth in conflict with the law are just some of things the current federal government will take credit for without having to foot much of the bill.
When asked about their penal downloading in recent weeks, Conservative MPs and ministers have stated that the provinces and territories are on their side and willing to pay their part. Such sweeping statements are arguably based on a calculation that, even in cases where provincial-territorial governments do not share a similar penchant for ignoring evidence on penal policy matters and would rather not divert scarce tax dollars in times of economic uncertainty towards imprisonment, they will remain silent for fear of being labelled ‘soft on crime’. The ostrich, however, can only bury its head for so long before deciding it has had enough and decides to draw a line in the sand instead.