Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 Federal Budget

I’m a bit late in blogging about this, since I’ve been trying to make sense of it – but here are some comments on the June 6 Federal Budget, with special attention to justice and public safety. (As an aside, if you want to see some hilariously bad photo editing, take a look at the cover of the Throne Speech.)

This budget was much the same as the one the Conservatives unsuccessfully tabled in May. They trotted it out again post-election and their majority passed it.

While you might expect me to be completely critical, I will say that the promised $20-million over the next two years for youth crime prevention programs could be a step in the right direction. Although this allocation is primarily targeted for youth at risk of gang involvement, hopefully it will support community-led initiatives that provide restorative, holistic responses to many at-risk youth.

The budget also allocates $26-million for victim services with an aim to “promote access to justice and participation by victims in the justice system.” Apparently there is some lack of clarity here, since the text of the budget says this $26-million is going to the Federal Victims’ Ombudsman, but the details of the budget show the funds to be distributed among other offices and departments. It would be good to see more support for victims, but I hope this is not just lip service, as some of the previous Conservatives initiatives seem to have been.

One of the reasons I didn’t write about the budget earlier was that I was trying to find out why there was nothing in the budget addressing the price tag on the crime omnibus bill that is expected to be tabled soon. This bill will be made up of 10 or more pieces of law and order legislation that weren’t passed during the previous session. The government has been very reluctant to come forward with the costs of all this ‘tough on crime’ legislation – indeed, their refusal to do so is what brought their last government down.

So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s not addressed in the budget. The costs will be revealed only after it’s too late to stop it.

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