Pierre Poièvre loves punchy phrases, so it’s no surprise that much of his response to the rise in car thefts revolves around the phrase “jail, not bail.” Conservative leaders say these three words are key to eliminating the “crime and disorder” that has been unleashed.
Lacking a crisp line of their own, the Liberals are trying to use Mr. Poièvre’s line against him. Essentially, all he has is a slogan, arguing that today’s problems require more than three-word answers.
“We’re convening this summit because Canadians need serious action,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the start of Thursday’s meeting of federal, provincial and municipal officials and representatives from the insurance and auto industries. . “A catchy slogan won’t stop car theft. His two-minute YouTube video won’t stop organized crime.”
The summit was, after all, an opportunity for the Liberals to show they were serious about this issue. But if it wants to counter Mr. Poièvre’s slogan, it needs to show its “serious action.”
To that end, Thursday’s events suggested how much it would cost to fully address the issue, including through criminal law reform.
There is at least bipartisan consensus on the need for urgency. For the past month, the Liberals and Conservatives have been competing to see who can be more vocal on the issue.
Conservative leaders blame the 2015 change of government for the problem.
“Since [Trudeau’s] “Since the government was elected in 2015, car thefts have increased by 34 per cent nationally,” Poilievre said this week.
This increase is indisputable. However, Poièvre’s calculations do not seem to take into account population growth. And his expression hides how much of a recent phenomenon population growth is.
car theft rate began to decline in 2004 It reached its lowest point in 2013, dropping from 550.6 to 206.7. It remained roughly flat for the next eight years. In 2015, the car theft rate was 220.7 per 100,000 people. In 2021, it was 218.2.
That number jumped to 271.4 in 2022. In 2023, that number could be even higher.
At least some of the increase in auto theft may be related to supply chain issues caused by the pandemic.Brian Gast, Vice President of Investigative Services equity associationhe told CBC. power and politics Organized crime has taken advantage of the lack of available vehicles this week.
Curiously, the spike in thefts coincided with a sudden surge in political attention to theft. The phrase “auto theft” appeared in the Congressional Record an average of 1.6 times per year between 2015 and 2022, and in 2023 he had 10 mentions. As of 2024, this phrase has already been said 66 times.
The Conservative Party is very comfortable fighting over who is tougher on crime. Poièvre’s response to the auto theft problem is reminiscent of Stephen Harper’s focus on law and order. The Poilievre government introduced a new mandatory minimum penalty for car theft for a third offense, making those convicted of car theft by indictment ineligible for house arrest and denying his confession. Street, people arrested for auto theft will receive “jail, not jail time.” Deposit. “
Such proposals would be easier to evaluate if the number of car thefts committed by people under house arrest or on bail was clear. (Mr. Poièvre’s office did not respond to questions this week about whether it had such data.)
Those proposing new mandatory minimum standards also need to answer effectiveness, deterrence, and constitutionality. Required minimal statements have the advantage of appearing responsive. It’s less clear whether it directly translates into a reduction in crime.
Nevertheless, there appears to be some agreement that punishment must be part of the solution.
Minister of Justice Arif Virani — who is this? Be familiar with the threat of car theft — scoffed at M. Poièvre’s suggestion this week. But at Thursday’s summit, the government also It was suggested that criminal law reform was coming soon. And Ontario’s police chief called for “more severe penalties.”
But completely solving this problem will require more than sentencing reform.
One Summit, Many Solutions Possible
Participants at Thursday’s summit presented a number of proposals. Add resources for local police. Additional resources from Canada Border Services Agency. We are also focusing on educating car owners. Improving information sharing between jurisdictions and authorities. Targeted interventions like the Ontario Organized Crime Towing and Auto Theft Team. Improving car safety standards (manufacturers seem to be less enthusiastic about this, perhaps fearing additional costs).
Governments are judged on actions rather than process, but Thursday’s summit was perhaps the most interesting and educational public debate on policy that Ottawa has hosted in years.
The Conservatives and Liberals, along with all informed experts, also agree on the need to do something about the ability of criminal organizations to export stolen vehicles through Canadian ports. Border officials who have focused primarily on what’s coming in will now need to take a closer look at what’s going out.
During the second of two press conferences on auto theft this week, Poilievre said the government should buy new scanners for Canada’s major ports so they can inspect more shipping containers. Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc was not impressed.
“Mr. Poièvre does not have a monopoly on the idea that there is technology that can assist the Canada Border Services Agency,” LeBlanc said Wednesday after announcing new funding for the CBSA. “We have been discussing this matter with CBSA officials for months.”
Insurance Commission of Canada Chair Celeste Power said Thursday that U.S. officials are citing “data analytics” and partnerships with other agencies as the best tools for disrupting criminal networks and exporting stolen cars. And there are even less interesting ideas.
“In Canada, export documents can be amended two days after the ship sets sail,” Power noted. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection requires vehicle exporters to submit all export documentation and vehicles 72 hours prior to export.”
An estimated 10 percent of stolen vehicles in the U.S. are exported, Power said. In Canada, that number is over 50% of his.
“Improve your paperwork!” Not much of a slogan. But if Canadian politicians are serious about combating auto theft, it should be part of the solution.