Brits are debating plans, backed by many governing Tories, to cut social benefits and evict families of rioters and looters from their homes. The debates will be spirited, with conservatives favouring harsh action and lefties urging no knee-jerk reactions, which actually means, forget the idea.
The debate is worth having in Canada. Not about minor offenders or first-timers but certainly it could be about those who establish a long pattern of anti-social and criminal behaviour. Perhaps the issue is moot since the courts would likely restrict government from withdrawing entitlements from even the most heinous characters. Hell, infamous Canadian child killer Clifford Olson was eligible to collect $1,100 a month in senior’s benefits and income supplements.
This weekend, I read stories about the welfare exclusion issue in British newspapers and early Monday, it appears to threaten David Cameron’s governing coalition.That would be a good outcome but political expediency will probably rule the day and, beyond huffing and puffing, nothing will be done.
However, I also read about Sunday’s gangland slaying of Jonathan Bacon. It struck me that a single family has cost fellow citizens countless millions in police, court and prison costs but are still due all the benefits that law abiding citizens expect.
Certainly when known gangsters need ambulances and show up at hospital with bullet wounds or need heart by-pass surgery, knee replacements or any other medical service, they receive the same attention as any other patient. Additionally, these people might buy extravagant automobiles to drive on community roadways, enjoy public boat ramps to launch fancy cigarette boats and use municipal services, ferries, airports and all the other benefits that productive communities provide.
Maybe withdrawing social benefits and privileges is worth considering if the targets are people who stand permanently on the side of lawlessness and anti-social behaviour. The sanction would be akin to, but more severe than, the Anti-Social Behaviour Orders used in Britain. ASBO’s are made against persons shown, on the balance of evidence, to have engaged in anti-social behaviour. The orders restrict public behaviour but have largely been used against juvenile delinquents for relatively minor offences Maybe more drastic ASBO’s should have a place in punishing the behaviour of Canada’s habitual felons and racketeers.