Statement by FCM President challenging party leaders to support front-line solutions for safer streets in national debates



    OTTAWA, Sept. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - The following is a statement from FCM
President Jean Perrault, Mayor of Sherbrooke, Que.:

    
    "On the eve of the first national debate, FCM is issuing a challenge to
    all party leaders: Tell Canadians you're ready to back up your crime and
    punishment platforms with concrete commitments to the front-line policing
    and prevention programs needed for safer streets in our cities and
    communities.

    In an election short on defining issues, crime and safety stand apart
    from the rest. Few issues matter more to voters than the security of
    their families and communities. Not surprisingly, federal party leaders
    have all raised this issue on the campaign trail.

    While crime rates are down in communities across the country, too many
    Canadians continue to experience violence and insecurity in the places
    they call home. While targeted announcements have grabbed headlines, so
    far the federal campaign has produced no comprehensive vision for safer
    communities or a strategy for crime prevention, enforcement and
    punishment.

    Overwhelmingly, the party platforms focus on limited measures aimed at
    hot-button issues, such as street gangs or youth crime. Federal leaders
    have been quick to serve up legislative solutions to combat crime, but
    this only feeds a decades-long trend of more legislative talk and too
    little front-line action. Meanwhile, federal policing responsibilities
    continue to be offloaded to local authorities.

    Canada's policing system has shifted an inordinate burden onto local
    forces without a matching transfer of resources. Over the last 20 years,
    municipal policing expenditures grew five per cent a year-close to the
    6.5 per cent for health care costs. Today municipalities pay 57 per cent
    of policing costs, yet they continue to receive just eight cents of every
    tax dollar collected. Meanwhile, federal policing duties-for issues like
    cyber crime, port security and border patrol-continue to be offloaded to
    local authorities.

    This week's national debates will give party leaders one more opportunity
    to tell Canadians how they'll fix this broken system and implement real
    and comprehensive solutions to make our cities and communities safer.

    As they prepare to address the country, we are calling on all party
    leaders to answer four key questions:

    1. What will you do to guarantee sustained funding for front-line
       policing? While welcome, the Police Officers Recruitment Fund will
       expire in five years, leaving cities and communities without the money
       to keep new officers on the street. Crime won't disappear in five
       years-sustained federal investments are required.

    2. Will you commit to a national policing strategy that stops the
       offloading of federal police duties and ensures that local police have
       adequate resources to meet their responsibilities?

    3. What will you do to ensure that the RCMP has sufficient resources to
       perform federal policing duties over the long term? When the federal
       police force is incapable of carrying out federal policing duties,
       local forces inevitably end up assuming additional responsibilities.

    4. What will you do to stop crime before it happens? Front-line
       experience shows that crime prevention programs are a cost-effective
       way to reduce criminal behaviour. In addition to criminal law, local
       police need the support of social, recreational and youth programs to
       fight the root causes of crime.

    On Friday, I will be in Edmonton with Mayor Stephen Mandel and Mayor
    Lloyd Bertschi, President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities
    Association, to unveil a post-debate Crime and Safety Report Card that
    measures how effectively each party platform would turn campaign promises
    into front-line results.

    As they prepare to address Canadians this week, party leaders must be
    ready to explain how their words will translate into safer streets, safer
    communities, and safer cities. They must explain how their proposals will
    get to the root of the problem and they must explain how their proposals
    will give the men and women of our police forces the tools they need to
    do their jobs."
    

    Additional background information on crime, public safety and local
policing, is available at www.fcm.ca.




For further information:

For further information: Maurice Gingues, (613) 907-6395,
mgingues@fcm.ca

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Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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FEDERAL ELECTION 2008

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