saint ben’s member Steve Bell recently alerted us to a post on his blog, which contains the text of a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding the pending Omnibus Bill C-10. We’d invite you to read the text of his letter here, or for more information to take a look at Steve’s original post. Some may wonder if this is a classic case of the church getting mixed up in politics, but we prefer to think of it as a good example of how a person of faith might bring his faith and ethics to bear on an issue currently under consideration by the body politic.
Dear Mr. Harper,
I am deeply concerned about Omnibus Bill C-10. It is my wife’s research (as a social-work student at Booth University College in Winnipeg) that has refocused my attention to the bill. The more I followed her work, the more concerned I have become.
Firstly, I believe there are some good things in the bill – let me be clear about that. But there are also some alarmingly retrogressive policies that will undoubtably be a black stain on your leadership for decades to come if passed as is. For the love of God and your fellow Canadians, please slow the process of this bill down. Break-up the omnibus to its components and consider each individually and carefully.
Honestly… in the last election I was prepared, for the first time in my life, to vote Conservative. I tend to be a bit left leaning myself, but thought that at this particular juncture perhaps a conservative economic approach trumped other concerns. Also, I live in Conservative MP Joy Smith’s riding and have deeply appreciated her noble fight against human trafficking. But in the end I could not, by extension, sign my name to a bill that blanketly criminalizes the ill and the desperate when other measures are proven to be cheaper, more effective and more humane.
I have no need to demonize those who have different opinions than me. But please tell me… who is being served by taking away the power of judges to discern individual cases and sentence accordingly? Who is being served by harsh punitive measures for crimes that are rooted in addictions and poverty when prevention and restorative measures are proven to be far more effective? Who is being served by costly measures that disrupt family and community economies instead of promoting personal responsibility and community well-being? We need a much more sophisticated and nuanced response to crime and public safety than what this bill will produce.
Frankly, I’m a little surprised that you, who shares the same Christian faith I embrace, propose to rule out discernment and mercy from the justice system. A broad-scope survey of Biblical history shows a slow but progressive movement away from a merciless justice which favours retribution to restoration.
Know also, my convictions come from lifelong experience of the Canadian Penitentiary system. My father was a protestant chaplain who served roughly 30 years in federal prisons in Drumheller, Stony Mountain, Edmonton and, toward the end of his career, as regional Chaplain of the Maritime Provinces. Dad is a thoughtful man who tends toward a more conservative ideology, but finds himself utterly bewildered and alienated from ideologies that do not honour or respect the long hard work of practitioners in the field, expert research or verifiable fact.
Mr. Harper, please reconsider. I don’t believe you have the majority of Canadians’ support for this. You certainly do not have the support of experts in the field. Again, this administration will be well remembered for a costly mistake in judgement in support of structures that will have to be dismantled at great expense to the individuals, families and communities that make up our nation.
Meanwhile, I do sincerely pray for your health and the well being of your beloved. I wish you every good success in the office with which you have been charged and I thank you for carrying the weighty burden the office demands.