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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Misconceptions of new NSPC law

The hysteria coming from the centre-left bubbled over noise of the never ending promises by the NDP for a moment this past month after the curfew legislation was brought into the public eye.

At first glance I can see why this law could seem extreme for a Western region to propose, but the point of this law is not to discriminate against youth or to state that all youth are criminals, as the left screams. Like a repeat forest fire, the left’s love affair with victimization spread across the pages of Halifax’s newspapers with abandon. The chance to label the Tories as liberty-hating fascists was swept up as usual, drowning out the simple, pragmatic words of Premier Rodney MacDonald. Mr. MacDonald explained that the point of this law is to hold parents accountable for their children, should they be 16 years of age or younger. In non-spun words, it doesn’t seem so scary – in fact, it amazes me that this is considered a foreign notion to many people in Nova Scotia.

It’s as simple as this: currently, if a person 16 years or younger commits a crime, and there are damages, the damages are paid for by taxpayers who have absolutely nothing to do with the situation. It’s apparently not enough that none of these hypothetical crimes will be on a permanent record, no matter how bad they are. The PC government wants not the taxpayers to pay for such damages, but the parents – legally, as the curfew age is quite a bit below age 18 – and most of all morally.

Now, it’s true that in this day and age it’s hard to keep an eye on one’s children 24/7. However, is it too hard to ask to, you know, be a parent? By this I don’t just mean housing, clothing, and feeding one’s child. I’m talking about putting an effort into raising a kid who won’t commit crimes in the first place. If that doesn’t work, parents can *gasp* punish their child non-violently, or simply be extremely disappointed, which worked enough for me.

Imagine you’re a 16 year old boy (or girl) again, and despite your good character, you’re feeling rebellious. As a child, unless raised correctly, you would have no idea who has to pay for, let’s say, a broken window that you smashed with a rock. Nor would you care at such a young age. Even if you did know, the thought that it’s not going to be you or your family paying for it doesn’t exactly help the situation. Now imagine that your parents have to pay for it – think you would still do it? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that parents would take the activities of their child more seriously with this law in place. Whether the parents pro-actively teach their child to respect property like they’re supposed to, or if punishments worsen, it’s a strong deterrent. It not only deters parents from letting their kids run around at 2:00 am, but it deters kids from committing petty crimes.

“Deterrent laws” as I call them are less about grabbing up money from offenders, and more about scaring those that would otherwise commit the supposed crime had the law not been in place. For the most part they do their job. A recent law that comes to mind that prohibits using a hand-held cell phone while driving. Until I realized the police rarely pull people over for this (shh, it’s our little secret!). I never used my cell phone while driving when the law was in place simply because I didn’t want a ticket. In turn, my risk of being in an accident arguably decreased, making me safer. The best part of deterrent laws is that they don’t require much cash from taxpayers, and yet they still do their job better than direct enforcement. I know plenty of people that only use a seat-belt because it’s the law, and the seat-belt law has been around a long time. Of course there are those that will do things whether it’s legal or not; it’s impossible to prevent all crime all the time. But when there are cheap, effective ways to lower crime, why not?

It’s sad that this needs to be emphasized by a law, but in a region where the majority of young city dwellers, many of which are students, cannot get enough of government hand-outs and freebies. Although this doesn’t surprise me, it’s bothering how selfish my own generation is when it comes to politics. Many only consider what they as individuals receive from the government for free (after all, full-time students don’t work a whole lot) before consideration for what’s best for the province. When there’s a lot of students in one relatively small area such as greater Halifax, it does make a difference in “public” opinion. You won’t find a NDP majority like in HRM in rural Nova Scotia, that’s for sure.

[Cross-posted at The Right Coast]

Posted by Dane Richard on June 4, 2009 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink


Raising children should be done by parents, not the state.

Posted by: Matt | 2009-06-04 10:39:38 PM

I thought that was a nice strong argument. I am interested to see what the libertarian side has to offer against it. I'm hoping someone can make a counterpoint with real life applications and not simply a slippery slope argument.

I'm generally a libertarian, but this article gave me some naughty statist feelings.


should the state not take in a 10 year old who is wandering the streets at night without supervision? After all raising children should be done by the parents, not the state.

what if the child was 11? 12? 16?

parents should raise their kids. but I think staying out late at night is kind of like driving a car. sure some young kids could do it without every messing up, but they are still kids, so we set an age limit.

Both are discrimination laws, but it is discrimination that every will face and everyone will outgrow. (I'm just trying to head off a potential discrimination argument. Although I am aware that your argument did not even touch on that.)

Posted by: 아레스 | 2009-06-04 10:55:26 PM

Who invited this totalitarian to blog here?

First, it was Publius who went from being a right-wing partisan to an Objectivist shrill (which is bad because anyone who claims that liberty is only valuable for selfishness, especially based on the philosophical unsophistication of Ayn Rand, is bound to turn anyway those not already libertarian off and perhaps some that are.) Now, this? What gives?

Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2009-06-05 3:58:59 AM

Matt - You're absolutely right about the discrimination argument. I'm embarrassed I forgot about that when writing this! As a former libertarian (that's right, Robert), I can understand why this would seem weird to support. In an ideal world I too would not want any government intervention into our lives, but the sad fact that many parents lack self-responsibility for their children is what brings about this law; not the Tories wanting to be the big bad monster.

Of course, that makes me a totalitarian, right Mr. Seymour?

Posted by: Dane Richard | 2009-06-05 6:27:52 AM

When I was between 12 and 15 I liked to get up just as the sun was about to rise sometimes and go for a walk. It was something I did more often when I was camping or a at the family cottage, but especially in the summer it was something I sometimes did in the city.

The proposed law would allow police to pick up kids on the streets any time before 6:00am and fine their parents. Sunrise in Halifax today was at 5:30am. The proposed law is totalitarian.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-06-05 10:16:48 AM

This law only has a support base because of the crappy parenting job that is being done in Canada! We are raising our kids without a sense of right and wrong. We are buying into the politically correct concept that everything is relative and moral codes are outdated. I am shocked by the number of parents that don't restrain their kids. Drop the Doctor Spock garbage! If the kid does something wrong then punish him! If its real bad then be ready to smack the little weasel! We suffer from parents that don't want to get involved. Also, we suffer from parents that don't want to discipline because that would ruin the child's self esteem. Even worse, we had judges rule that spanking can only be allowed on kids ages 3-12. What about a troublesome obnoxious teenager? Tough love is sometimes required in the raising of children! If the parents don't do it, then who will? Do we need to reinstate corporal punishment in the schools? It seems to me that MacDonald's step is a middle of the road solution. Come on, did you know that in America there is no upper age limit on spanking children? Also, corporal punishment is allowed in public schools in 21 American state and 48 states allow it in private schools(Iowa and NJ are exceptions). Wake up Canada! We are producing a generation with a lot of white trash in it!

Posted by: Ted | 2009-06-05 3:32:55 PM

Finally someone who understand my underlying point of the original article! (Ted).

I never said I fully support the notion of a curfew. Like I said, in an ideal world there would be no such thing. The whole point of the article was not to say that children should be under a curfew, but to defend the lost notion of parents being responsible for their children. As Ted pointed out, the supposed Canadian concept of Political Correctness whereby parents intervene in the shaping of their child in the name of free development. In reality, if they`re not doing it, the rest of the world is. My, it`s such a toss up: public schooling and the media raising my child or myself! Maybe it`s because one requires effort and morals - something that`s not as praised as it once was.

Posted by: Dane Richard | 2009-06-05 11:10:23 PM

Need to correct this part:


As Ted pointed out, the supposed Canadian concept of Political Correctness whereby parents purposely fail to intervene in the shaping of their child, in the name of ``free development``.


Posted by: Dane Richard | 2009-06-05 11:12:24 PM

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