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Tue Aug 20, 2013, 07:11 AM

Out of Sync


Harper government’s tough-on-crime laws are outdated: Editorial
Published on Mon Aug 19 2013

For 40 years, the United States conducted an unremitting, staggeringly expensive war on drugs.

For at least 30 of those years, Washington sent a succession of “drug czars” to Ottawa to press the Canadian government to get tough on dealers, traffickers and addicts.


It took the Prime Minister six years to get his controversial crime legislation through Parliament, but he finally succeeded last year. The centrepiece of his law-and-order agenda was a series of mandatory minimum sentences, many for drug crimes. They ranged from a jail term of six months for growing six or more marijuana plants to three years behind bars for operating a methamphetamine lab in a residential neighbourhood.

But now, with Canadian courts and prisons ramping up for more trials, more incarceration and longer sentences, the U.S. has changed direction. It is de-escalating its war on drugs, shelving mandatory minimums and allowing judges to divert non-violent offenders into drug treatment and job training programs.

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