Our way of life is based on one law for all

By MPP Toby Barrett

While the Ontario government has focused on priorities like policing what kind of dog we can own or protecting the dandelions on our lawn – it has turned a blind eye to lawbreakers who take a free ride on the backs of law-abiding citizens.

This is wrong and is in need of change – change that restores the fundamental of one rule of law for all. Families that work hard and play by the rules need to know that the standard they live by is the one everyone is expected to live by.

Ontario is based on one law for everyone, no matter what our background or where we live. We are all equal citizens under the law. We expect courts and police officers to enforce rules we all agree to follow.

Because of Caledonia, the rules on illegal occupations need to be toughened and enforced. Whoever would have thought that honest hardworking people would have to show some kind of passport to get to and from their own home? When these families needed government – at a time when their homes, their possessions were being threatened – government failed to stand by its police. Government needs to support our frontline police officers in these difficult situations, and it is essential we expand the powers in the Trespass to Property Act.

There may be no better example of how authorities have dithered and ducked getting tough on crime than the growth of illegal tobacco.

This criminal trade is bad for our young people who can easily access illegal smokes. It’s detrimental to honest businesses that are robbed of revenue. And it’s bad for every Ontario family as government loses at least $500 million each year in tax revenue. Furthermore, the illegal tobacco trade is dangerous because human smuggling and illegal tobacco sales are controlled by organized crime that uses profits to fund the drug and weapons trades.

We need to increase enforcement, including at the US border, as well as increase police search and seizure authority related to tobacco. We must deal with unmarked tobacco produced on reserves, and give police the authority to get to the source – the manufacturers of illicit cigarettes.

Another issue I hear about locally is car theft and insurance fraud. It’s time to stop the organized crime schemes that drive up auto insurance rates. What some people seem to shrug off as little consequence is actually part of an epidemic that costs Ontario drivers $1.3 billion each year – money that could be keeping premiums under control. Ontario has the highest auto insurance rates in Canada largely because of a failure to address these schemes.

We must also end our society’s indifference to the rights of victims and deliver the support they need. A good start would be to remove the bureaucracy standing in the way of victims and justice. For example, earlier this year the Official Opposition exposed a $31 million surplus in the Victims’ Justice Fund that government was just sitting on while victims suffered in silence. Direct Victim’s Justice funds to victims, where it belongs, and improve the services they deserve.

We have government for a reason – in large part to protect and support citizens who work hard and play by the rules.