Someday, historians will cite what Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said this week as the Harper Government's Mission Statement. Nicholson declared that, "We're not governing on the basis of the latest statistics. We're governing on the basis of what's right to better protect victims and law abiding citizens."
Never mind what statistics tell us -- that crime has been falling for decades. The government is convinced that crime is going up -- and, even though governments in Britian and the United States are backing away from the remedies they propose, the Harperites insist that their omnibus crime legislation is necessary -- regardless of the cost. Strange behaviour for a government whose advertised expertise is about controlling costs.
This kind of behaviour is not an aberration. As Jeffrey Simpson writes in today's Globe and Mail:
The Harper government has this weird contempt for solid evidence. It pops up from time to time when, in the face of expert evidence, the government just barrels ahead in another direction. Recall the government’s abolition of the long-form census, a move opposed by statisticians and groups that rely on the most accurate statistics possible. Recall the government’s insistence after the 2008 recession had begun that no recession was under way. Recall in the matter of criminal justice the parade of judicial spokesmen, lawyers, criminologists and prison experts urging, even imploring, the government to cease and desist.
How does one explain this complete contempt for facts, something -- which Gerry Caplan wrote last week -- makes Stephen Harper "inscrutable?" There really is no mystery. First and foremost, the Harper Conservatives see themselves as righteous. Deep down they are convinced that God is on their side. And that is why they are truly dangerous.
Much harm is done by those who are convinced that their mission is to do God's work.