There are a couple of things that I typically don’t blog about. Politics is one of those things.
Well, today I’m making an exception.
Tomorrow is election day in Nova Scotia. There’s been much ado about voter fatigue in the past year or so. It’s been argued that low voter turnout in the last federal and municipal elections can be attributed to this sense of electoral ennui. To be totally upfront I’ve only once, in my entire adult life, not voted.
I can’t say I’m the most educated voter that I know. Like most Canadians, I’m feeling a sense of apathy and I don’t necessarily believe in all the promises that are made because they seem so easily broken. But there’s one point that’s been sticking in my craw during this current provincial campaign: the Conservative party’s solution to youth crime.
Mostly because it’s not a solution at all.
In a press release, they proposed to set a curfew and fine parents of youth who are out too late. In principle, I absolutely agree that kids under the age of 15 shouldn’t be out after 1 a.m. In fact, most parents I know agree. But most parents I know belong to the middle- to upper-income, nuclear family demographic. These are the parents who mostly take a fairly active role in the lives of their kids, go on family outings, have dinner together, enrol their little ones in extra-curricular activities, and enforce a bedtime to some extent.
On the other side of the coin, the kids who are out at 1 a.m. are the ones who don’t have the things many of us take for granted. Some parents are single, others are having to work multiple jobs just to pay the bills for the basic necessities. I believe these are the parents that this fine is aimed at.
I’m not saying all parents in the middle- to upper-income nuclear family take the time to ensure their kids aren’t getting into trouble. Nor are single or lower-income parents the cause of youth crime. What I am saying is that a curfew is not going to solve the problem.
Besides the fact that state imposed curfews should set off alarm bells about Big Brother and police rule, and that it very likely wouldn’t stand up in court, this policy does nothing to put my mind at ease. If anything, should it actually be put in place, it’s only going to criminalize the already marginalized and further isolate them from the rest of society.
To me, a solution means attacking the root of the problem. And the problem here isn’t actually that there are kids out past 1 a.m. It’s much deeper rooted than that surface issue. The real problem is that we don’t have social programs in place to assist these parents and to work with at-risk youth in order to keep them off the streets at all hours.
You can call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want. But the fact of the matter is that eventually these kids are going to grow up. If we as a society don’t nip the problem of youth crime in the bud now by helping to address the real issue at hand we’re just as culpable of doing a disservice to our future citizens.
I’m not writing this post to sway your vote. But discussion of the issues is a very important part of the political process. One that I think has been missing and therefore contributing the voter fatigue across the nation. Instead of blindly casting our ballots to the most winsome personality or simply because we’ve always voted one way or just going by gut instinct rather than reading through the party platforms (or worse yet not voting at all), maybe this is the year to talk it out amongst friends or family…or with random East Coast bloggers.
We now return to regularly scheduled blogging.