One of the challenges of being a Member of Parliament on the governing side of the house is trying to communicate accurate information to taxpayers on issues of importance. With the advent of social media, misinformation and inaccurate claims can be distributed extremely quickly and very efficiently. Often, this misinformation is circulated and promoted by interest groups for partisan or self-serving reasons, in particular from many organizations that depend upon public donations as a primary source of revenue.
As an example, I am certain that many citizens have heard claims that government efforts to crackdown on criminals and put the interests of victims first would cost Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars in both capital spending and annual operating costs to build new prisons. Here is the reality. When you keep career criminals in jail longer, where they cannot re-offend, the result is that new criminals are not being created; rather, you are preventing existing criminals from re-offending. This actually helps reduce the crime rate, and most importantly, by slowing down the “revolving” doors of justice, fewer crimes are being committed, and this results in fewer victims from those crimes. As one law enforcement officer noted recently, playing “catch and release” with chronic offenders is not an efficient use of resources nor does it reduce crime.
While the crime bill received a tremendous amount of scrutiny in the House and at committee, we heard from a wide variety of groups who shared their opinions with us, with some suggesting that already implemented efforts (such as removing the previous 2 for 1 credit for time served by those in remand) to crack down on crime would result in the creation of thousands of new criminals, the reality is that these claims have been proven untrue. In actuality, there has not been a federal jail built since 2006, and our government has no intention of building a single new prison. In fact, most recently, our government announced the closure of two aging federal institutions. Keeping career criminals in jail longer does not result in the creation of more criminals; it results in fewer crimes and, most importantly, keeps our communities safer.
Another recent claim that you may have heard is that our government is trying to “silence” or “muzzle” special interest groups with new provisions contained in Budget 2012. Canadian law has long restricted the generous tax advantages provided to legitimate charitable organizations that provide charitable services. However, charitable activities do not include the use of taxpayers’ generosity for self-serving political purposes, and Budget 2012 promotes greater transparency to separate legitimate charitable activities from those of a political nature. Special interest organizations are welcome to continue advocating on behalf of interest groups; however, these activities will no longer be subsidized by Canadian taxpayers. For legitimate charitable organizations, these changes will not require charitable activities to be performed any differently. These changes will ensure that more integrity and transparency will be created for taxpayers in order to ensure that charitable organizations are not adversely impacted by special interest groups.
We have seen a lot of changes in Okanagan-Coquihalla with our on-air media personalities, starting with the retirement of 41-year radio veteran Al Clarke in Merritt. Also there has been a change of direction with several South Okanagan-Similkameen radio personalities being let go. I was amazed with how many local events that they would attend to help promote and better our communities.