Municipal politics is not the place to change criminal law

Municipal politics is not the place to change criminal law

There are other avenues available to change our criminal laws.


The mayor and council proposed a six-point action plan to address crime. The sentiment is laudable, but half of the proposals are ultra vires, or beyond the jurisdiction of a municipality. In making such proposals, and some not for the first time, our municipal government displays a lack of understanding of some basic, and fundamental, features of our constitutional democracy.

Our mayor laments that criminals are caught and then released, whether on bail or after serving their sentence. He wants the “courts to be more responsible” and “to step up to the plate and help.”

Canadian judges and Crown Counsel swear oaths to uphold the law. Our criminal law prescribes, statutorily or in our common law, the rules and principles around bail and sentencing. So when judges and Crown Counsel make decisions about release and sentencing, they must do so in accordance with their sworn duty.

READ MORE: It’s a real crime

What the mayor disagrees with then, are the laws regarding bail and sentence.

Of course there are avenues available to him to attempt to change our criminal laws. Municipal politics is not one of them.

If mayor and council wish to use politics to change criminal laws, they should have run in a different election, for a different office.

The mayor says professionals do not want to move to Williams Lake because of crime. You know what else lacks allure? Municipal tax dollars being wasted by a mayor and council who attempt, futilely and repeatedly, to effect change by offending some of the most basic tenets of the constitution.

I hope our municipal government starts to focus on ways to prevent and reduce crime that are within their mandate and jurisdiction. Despite what has been said in the past, they have not done, within their jurisdiction, all they can do.

Sonja Vernon-Wood

Williams Lake

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