Letters: Don’t pass the buck on crime

Leadership can only come from those we elect, writer says. If they are not up to the job then we need new leaders.

Re: Co-operative effort on crime needed (Chilliwack Progress letters, May 11.)

When our MP, Mark Strahl replies to an issue it is important to do so with candor and with full adherence to the facts.

While I applaud his recent reply to Alayna Wiess’ open letter to him May 6, I take issue with several of his statements.

First, he states that he supported and voted for 30 measures aimed at strengthening our justice system which called for mandatory sentences designed to keep criminals off the street. These provisions were contained in Bill C10 which formed a part of the 2012 Omnibus Bill and there were few amendments to this bill called the “Safe Streets and Communities Act” as it was passed into law.

At the time it was argued to the government, that minimum mandatory jail sentences for non-violent crimes took away the discretionary powers of judges and could pose serious problems under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In fact, judges in B.C. and subsequently the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that mandatory minimums do just that.

While it may be disappointing to Mr. Strahl that these laws were, as he says “struck down,” he should be advising that this is the law of the land and accept the ruling.

He goes on to say that P.M. Trudeau said that he opposes mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes, and this is not true. Trudeau is on record that the Liberal approach to criminal justice is to protect the public safety while respecting our enshrined rights. He has said that mandatory sentences are appropriate in some conditions and there is a mountain of precedence that the judiciary can look to when passing sentences while still remaining true to the Charter. Having said this, I believe Mr. Strahl to be incorrect and self-serving rather that informative to the letter writer.

He speaks of his willingness to work with the community to help solve some of Chilliwack’s current crime problems. He acknowledges that policing is costly and he says he is going to talk to the RCMP detachment to update himself on the situation.

Where has he been these past years when our drug and street crime has become so acute?

I asked the RCMP about our difficulties and they confirmed that they needed more “boots on the ground.”

Perhaps Mr. Strahl could persuade the Mayor and Council of Chilliwack to move away from their ultra low tax policy. With the huge influx of folks moving here because of low property prices, a larger tax base would provide the City with funds for a new policy of crime prevention and give these new arrivals a safer community.

Then, as politicians often do, he ends with the tired old platitude that Chilliwack is a “great place to live and work and raise a family.”

If there were not acute crime problems in Mayor Gaetz’s “little town,” then why was Alayna Weiss prompted to write a plea for help?

It is time for change in Chilliwack. It is time for leadership and resolve.

Leadership can only come from those we elect. If they are not up to the job then we need new leaders. Alayna and others just like her are looking for answers, not slogans or misinformation.

There should be no passing the buck in Chilliwack.

Wayne Underhill,

Chilliwack