ANALYSIS: Poilievre in Campaign Mode With Detailed Tough-on-Crime Policy Proposals

ANALYSIS: Poilievre in Campaign Mode With Detailed Tough-on-Crime Policy Proposals
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks to reporters next to the Port of Montreal on Feb. 6, 2024. (Noé Chartier/The Epoch Times)
Noé Chartier

The next federal election may not happen until late 2025, but with the Tories’ commanding lead in the polls, their policy proposals are being given the increasing weight of campaign promises.

The latest promises revolve around the issue of rising crime, with Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre proposing measures to combat extortion and car theft.

Major media outlets—some of which have drawn criticism from Mr. Poilievre over perceived bias—suggested in their coverage that the Tory leader is “driving the conversation” on the issue. Mr. Poilievre is also in the driver’s seat when it comes to voters’ intentions, with polls projecting a solid Conservative majority if an election was held today.

Mr. Poilievre held two press conferences in key areas of the criminal activity before the Liberal government hosted its multi-stakeholder summit to discuss the increasing trend in vehicle theft on Feb. 8.

He was in Brampton, Ont., on Feb. 5, which had a record year for car thefts in 2023. The next day, Mr. Poilievre spoke next to the Port of Montreal, from where many of the stolen vehicles are shipped overseas.

During both events, Mr. Poilievre free-styled his usual talking points about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau increasing the cost of housing and criminality, but he also read from prepared notes on his policies, something he rarely does.

In Brampton, Mr. Poilievre talked about increasing mandatory prison time from six months to three years for a third offence of car theft. He also wants to remove eligibility for house arrest if an individual is convicted of car theft by way of indictment.

As for his slogan of “jail not bail,” he said he would repeal the Liberal government’s “catch-and-release” rules that came by way of Bill C-75 which became law in 2019.

In Montreal, the Conservative leader proposed measures to increase port security, including the specific purchase of 24 X-ray scanners for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). He also said 75 border agents would be hired to secure federal ports.
The detailed proposals, made presumably a year-and-a-half away from an election, seemingly clash with the Liberal government’s portrayal of Mr. Poilievre as a man of slogans and not solutions.

‘Stop the Revolving Door’

After his morning press conference in Montreal, Mr. Poilievre made his way back to Ottawa to attend question period in the House of Commons where he pressed Mr. Trudeau on rising crime and increased bureaucracy.

“[The prime minister] has caused the bureaucracy to explode, but border services are inspecting only 1 percent of containers,” Mr. Poilievre said.

“Will he follow my common-sense plan to reduce the bureaucracy and the consultants and add officers and container scanners?”

Mr. Trudeau responded that his government gave Ontario $121 million to fight organized crime and car theft whereas Mr. Poilievre is “constantly proposing cuts.” Ottawa made an announcement for the funding on Jan. 31, but the dollars had been initially earmarked in 2017.
On Feb. 7, Ottawa also announced an investment of $28 million in the CBSA to improve its capabilities to stop the shipments of stolen cars.

The Liberal government, however, has yet to discuss in detail concerns surrounding what critics describe as a permissive environment for car thieves.

Representatives from other levels of government, police, and the industry all spoke at the Feb. 8 Ottawa summit on vehicle theft about crime raking in big profits while penalties are minimal for perpetrators.

“We want to stop the revolving door of people coming back out on our streets and doing it again. We want to have them locked up, we want to have them in jail,” said Ontario Solicitor General Michael Kerzner.

Minister of Justice Arif Virani was non-committal at the summit about increasing penalties for car thieves, but said his government would look into it.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc told CBC’s The House on Feb. 10 that his government took “careful notes” from the meeting to come up with what steps they would be taking next to tackle the issue. He said the government is working to increase police resources to deal with the issue, and it is also in discussion with auto manufacturers to increase anti-theft provisions for new cars.

LeBlanc also said that they’re open to bringing in stiffer penalties.

“We’re open to strengthening the Criminal Code,” he said, but added, “that’s not going to be an immediate solution. We’re focused on what we can do right away.”


The Conservatives also seized on another recent development to blame Liberal polices for spiralling crime while making their own concrete proposals.

Peel Regional Police in Ontario said Feb. 7 it was investigating 29 cases of extortion, with 24 charges having been laid to date. All the targeted businesses are owned by South Asians and some were fired upon while unoccupied, reported CBC News.

Mr. Poilievre remarked Feb. 9 that the Liberals repealed the mandatory minimum sentencing for extortion with a weapon with the passage of Bill C-5 in 2021. The government presented the measure as means to reduce the proportion of indigenous and black people in prisons.

The Tory leader said his plan would establish a mandatory minimum sentence of three years for criminals convicted of extortion. A year in jail would be added if a firearm was used, and two years if there are links to organized crime. He also proposed adding arson as an aggravating factor in the crime of extortion.

Along with making proposals to combat extortion and car theft, the Conservatives also introduced two private member’s bills this week to amend the Criminal Code and increase penalties.

Tory Deputy Leader Tim Uppal introduced Bill C-381, the Protection Against Extortion Act, and MP Randy Hoback tabled Bill C-379 to address motor vehicle theft.