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Every day from February 21st -28th, I am going to write about a different crime issue that has an impact in our community. We’re calling this initiative Crime Week.  I know that people in Brant are concerned about their safety and issues of justice and so am I.  We are pushing for solutions to crime that are not just tough, but tough and effective.

In this article, I want to talk about the devastating and real impact of white-collar crime.  In the Conservatives “tough on crime” agenda very expensive white-collar crime issues do not get the kind of attention they deserve.

For many years, experts around the world have shared the opinion that Canada is a haven for white-collar criminals. In 2007 two former members of the RCMP’s Integrated Market Enforcement Teams, elite teams of investigators assigned with cracking down on white collar crimes in Canada, told Canadian Business that the Canadian justice system is losing the war this form of criminal activity1. In the three and a half years since then, not a lot has changed.  Where is the action?  This issue directly effects market confidence and jobs.

 The New Democrats understand that white-collar criminals need to face appropriate sentences, especially those who have defrauded Canadians of their hard-earned money. People who steal your money, sometimes from hundreds of people at the same time, shouldn’t be allowed to walk out of jail with a slap on the wrist.

We’re angry when it happens to a mugger or a car-jacker and should be just as angry when it happens to a crooked banker or shady investor.

Bill C-59 was expected to be part of the solution that would create tougher parole rules against white-collar criminals, however bad politics got in the way of positive legislation for Canadians. The Bill, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accelerated parole review) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, was presented by the Minister of Public Safety and passed in to law on February 16th of this year. The New Democrats had fought for provisions in this bill that would have seen more effective parole regulations by eliminating the 1/6th rule for white collar offenders. Instead, the Bloc joined the Conservatives is forcing the Bill through to 3rd reading, which caused a failure of justice in hearing about the effects on other types of criminals affected by the 1/6th rule, which included those deemed ‘guilty by association’. If the Bill was such a rush to push through, why was the Bill killed when government was prorogued in 2009?

In fact the Conservative Government had quashed many of their own crime bills from their wasteful, costly and undemocratic prorogations.  I remember visiting Parliament to work for Brant riding during prorogation and talking with many New Democrat MP’s and staffers who were so upset and angry with the Harper government who proclaimed loudly and at every opportunity to be tough on crime but destroyed their own bills crime bills in such an undemocratic way.

New Democrats believe that we need to change the way we deal with white-collar criminals. We need to toughen the judgements handed down on these offenders.  No Club-Meds for white-collar criminals in Canada.  When we see the soft judgements and wrist slapping handed down to these offenders it’s no wonder why we continue to see an increase in scams and frauds across our community. We need to strengthen our laws and not have a two-tier justice system.

In conjunction with strengthening our prosecution system for white collar crimes, we also must continue to look for, and invest in, successful prevention programs that educate people on the impacts of white collar crimes, protect people (especially seniors) from being scammed and teaches everyone in our community how to avoid falling victim to fraudulent actions of others.

We need to work together to continue to pressure the government to strengthen the severity of judgements against white collar criminals.  In the same way we don’t want to see a two-tiered health system we must do away with a two-tierd justice system.  Fraud, scams and theft are wrong whatever collar you wear.

Laferriere with MP Paul Dewar working for Brant Riding during the controversial prorogation in Februrary of 2010Laferriere speaking out against Prorogation at a Rally in January 2010 

1 http://www.canadianbusiness.com/managing/strategy/article.jsp?content=20070918_19904_19904

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