When Stockwell Day laughingly cited the "alarming" rise in unreported crimes as an excuse to spend $10-$13 billion dollars on new prisons, at a time when the government is preaching austerity and crime rates are dropping, he quickly became the subject of ridicule. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson made a valiant attempt to defend Stockwell today releasing details on said "alarming" statistics, telling the press that in 2004, a Statistics Canada survey found that 34 per cent of crime incidents were reported to police, down from 37 per cent in 1999.
Not really good enough to explain away the billions the Tories seem itching to spend and the Globe and Mail editorial page let them have it: This is alarming? A six-year-old uptick in unreported crimes – mostly minor thefts not considered sufficiently serious by Canadians to report, says StatsCan. And where are the other data points of concern? None have been cited.
StatsCan also found that 94 per cent of Canadians felt safe. Is Mr. Day alarmed on behalf of the frightened six per cent? And what do unreported crimes have to do with building more prisons anyway?
Canada's national newspaper is predisposed to tilt to the right a bit (the Canadian right - not that stuff we see daily from across the 49th parallel) and there they are hammering away at Mr. Day. In fact, it was a reporter from the Sun newspaper chain who sometimes appear to be an arm of the Tory party that openly mocked Stockwell at the original press conference telling him he wasn't making any sense.
So now that the Tories have played a good hand badly all summer long and the most recent EKOS poll suggests they're in a virtual statistical tie with the Grits, there is bound to be talk of a possible fall election. Add to that the latest economic numbers which show 139,000 full time jobs disappeared last month, the one thing the Tories could boast about without argument, and there's a good chance the opposition parties are going to start behaving like there's blood in the water - 'cause there is and it was all spilled willingly, unnecessarily, and in the cause of ideology over good policy.