Megan Leslie Debates Omnibus Crime Bill

November 30th, 2011 - 2:43pm

 Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP): 

Madam Speaker, the government is not interested in evidence. If we look at Nova Scotia, my province, African Nova Scotians make up 4% of the population. They make up 8% of the poor population. That is double.

The Mi'kmaq, our first nations Canadians in Nova Scotia, make up 2% of the population, but they make up 4% of the poor population. Again, that is double.

When we go into the prisons in Nova Scotia, I can tell members who they will see there. It is our first nations citizens and African Nova Scotians. It is the people who come from poverty and who live in communities with so many social problems.

Instead of actually trying to address those social problems and prevent crime from happening, we are just locking people up. That is not the solution by any stretch of the imagination.

Time and time again we have experts who come in and say, “That is not the way to do it”. They are ignored because the government is not interested in evidence. It is just interested in a crime and punishment agenda.

 Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP): 

Madam Speaker, I completely agree with the member. This is about racialization and poverty. This is about criminalization of race.

I had the opportunity at home to visit a youth program for young people who were in conflict with the law. A number of youth that were in the room came from racialized communities.

There was a young man who said to me, “You know, growing up my uncle sold rock on the corner and my friends did and my dad did, and that is all I have ever known, so what will I do when I become an adult? That's what I did. I sold rock on the corner”. He said, “I didn't know that I could get a job, that I could build a resume, that I could apply. I didn't have the skills”.

He was in this program and he looked me in the eye and said, “If there were more programs like this for people like me when I needed them, I wouldn't have gone to jail because I would have gotten a legit job so that I could support my girlfriend and my daughter”. He said that. This is a young man who was in one of these programs who said, “I didn't know what to do other than sell drugs”.

It is not rocket science to figure out how to solve a problem like that.