Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

Election 2015: The Green approach to crime reduction

Green party leader Elizabeth May talks with Black Press about crime issues in Surrey

  • Thu Oct 8th, 2015 6:00am
  • News

This federal election, candidates and voters alike are saying crime is the most important issue facing Surrey and Delta.

The Surrey-North Delta Leader reached out to the leaders of each political party to find out what they will do about the ongoing problem.

So far, only Green party leader Elizabeth May returned calls.

This is what she said:

Q. What are you going to do to bolster RCMP officer recruitment?

Elizabeth May (Green party)

“As a British Columbian and a Canadian, I would want to revisit our contracts with the RCMP… and see if value for money we wouldn’t be better having a local police force.

The RCMP do great work in other provinces, but our whole policing is dependent on RCMP and there have been criticisms in the past, and the fact that it’s taking so long to get officers raises those issues for me again.”

Q. How will you address the ongoing issues of mental health and addiction, which uses an immense amount of police officer time?

Elizabeth May

“A lot of people who aren’t equipped to deal with mental health issues end up being front-line (in dealing with them), because we’ve let our mental health capacity erode significantly.

Smart on crime would be, let’s ensure that we have a robust mental health system where there are there are points of access treatment for mental health and addictions that prevent crime.

It looks like a lot more money (is needed) from the federal government for mental health and addiction programs.”

Q. How will you toughen laws, ensuring courts mete out meaningful sentences?

The answer should be within the constraints of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so courts won’t be overturning laws, such as mandatory minimum sentences.

Elizabeth May

“I voted against most of the Conservative so-called tough-on-crime laws, because it was clear they were going to violate the Charter, they were going to be struck down eventually, and it’s going to waste an enormous amount of public resources fighting things in court.

It’s been proven in jurisdictions like the U.S. and Texas that this approach (mandatory minimum sentences) doesn’t work. It actually decreases public safety and security.

It’s not helpful to have a great slogan that doesn’t address crime.

We virtually never go after a family member who said, ‘okay, I will swear the surety for my nephew or whatever, that they will show up. All of these promises of financial responsibility are never pursued.

It would certainly reduce the number of family members prepared to offer bail, if they knew that they were maybe going to lose their house if their relative didn’t show up.

We also should recognize that a judge should have the discretion to figure out in each circumstance, what punishment fits the crime.

Q. Surrey’s former mayor and Conservative candidate for Surrey-White Rock, Dianne Watts, has previously asked the federal government to increase its contribution to RCMP costs above its current 10 per cent, especially given we share a huge border with the U.S., requiring federal policing.

How much would you be willing to increase the policing funding contribution above its current 10 per cent?

Elizabeth May

“The Canadian Border Service Agency has also seen increased demands on their time that are perhaps less germane to the public’s safety and security. When RCMP officers get pulled off their normal duties, in a community like Surrey, that has a real life concern on a daily basis about crime, then you really need to have (an increase in federal contribution). I would say at least 10 per cent (more), but that’s all I could say without really having studied the numbers to see what’s needed.”

Q. How will you address gangs and guns?

Elizabeth May

“If you ask any RCMP officer in any community, chances are they  know who the criminal elements are. We need to give them the tools to create the reasonable grounds (for arrest and charge) to create the case.

Again, forensic accounting, going through tax records, figuring out what kinds of crimes can be proven quickly and easily to justify pre-emptive arrest. You don’t have to wait until you see someone doing a drug deal on the street if you can prove that they are living off the avails of crime and not paying tax on it.

On guns, we really need to have our borders toughened up on gun smuggling. We really need to have a concerted effort in conjunction with U.S. officials to stop the flow of smuggled illegal handguns into Canada.”

Q. What else would you do to reduce crime in this country, particularly Surrey?

Elizabeth May

I would legalize cannabis. We know from world health organizations that on public health, there is no stronger case for prohibiting cannabis that there is for cigarettes and alcohol. None of them are good substances to consume.

The prohibition of cannabis fuels organized crime, and that’s what we don’t want to be doing.

(Marijuana grow operations) are particularly dangerous in residential neighbourhoods. They bring a very dangerous element into suburban cul-de-sacs.

The best way to shut down a lot of organized crime in Canada is to legalize cannabis, then regulate it and tax it.”