Withholding millions from crime prevention ‘telling, problematic’

Toronto criminal lawyer Roots Gadhia says news that the Harper government withheld millions of dollars destined for crime prevention — even when it highlighted those same programs as proof of its tough-on-crime stance — raises alarm bells and seems “typical of this administration’s tendency to make bold, audacious statements” designed to convey to the public an interest in addressing issues.

“But I suppose promises made aren’t necessarily promises kept,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Gadhia makes the comments in connection with a CBC story about how roughly $28 million in promised spending for the National Crime Prevention Strategy was permitted to lapse over the last three years. The national strategy has an annual budget of about $41 million and is designed to fund programs in the provinces to help youth and aboriginal people who are at high risk for committing crimes.

An internal government document obtained by the national broadcaster through the Access to Information Act points to how the amount of unspent money has tripled since 2012-13 to more than 30 per cent of the 2014-15 budget, which resulted in about $12 million returned to the treasury, says the article.

The CBC highlights how Conservative ministers made a series of announcements earlier this year promoting the government’s crime prevention efforts and specifically pointed to money spent under the National Crime Prevention Strategy. The Harper government has come under fire previously for other cases of lapsed funding, says the article.

Gadhia says in claiming to balance the budget this upcoming year, the Conservatives seem to have syphoned monies initially promised to assist certain groups and “lulled the public into a false sense of security that the government is accomplishing important goals for Canadians.

“However, their failure to fund important programs and initiatives is problematic and raises alarm bells,” she says.

Yet, Gadhia isn’t surprised to learn the government hasn’t followed through with its promised funding for programs such as the crime prevention strategy. She says “this government appears never to have been interested in preventing crime.

“Its mandate to incarcerate at higher rates is, rather, motivated by a business interest in creating super jails,” she says.

Gadhia says the Harper government is “continually contradicting its own election promises to garner public support for a false claim of protecting the economy and the safety of Canadians.”

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