There's a new sheriff in town
Have you heard? There's a new sheriff in town.
Unfortunately, it's Barney Fife.
Last week the NDP slapped a star on Dave "Six Months" Chomiak and pushed him into a scrum to announce the government's new anti-gang strategy. Correction---the NDP's new, new, new, new, new, new, new, new anti-gang strategy.
The NDP's over-arching anti-gang strategy has been to attack them with news releases. Just skimming the surface of their own announcements of gang-fighting initiatives we find:
"A street gang containment initiative, started in 2000.
This initiative includes the international-award winning RCMP Gang Awareness Unit, Project Gang Proof's helpline, website and handbook, and intensive probation supervision through COHROU."
"A witness counter-intimidation response by police and Manitoba Justice, launched in 2003."
"A new three-member Manitoba Corrections Organized Crime Intelligence Unit. The integrated unit will specialize in collecting and analyzing information on organized crimes and gangs, gathered by Manitoba Corrections."
"Bolstering the Gang Prosecution Unit by adding one Crown prosecutor and one staff support person, bringing the size of the unit to 10 members. The unit, which previously was staffed by six Crown prosecutors and two support staff, has been able to attain 89 convictions or guilty pleas involving gang members since November 2003. "
" An integrated prosecutions, police and corrections offensive, a Canadian first that utilizes a highly- specialized prosecution unit and an integrated police task force to target organized crime.
"The integrated Criminal Organization and High Risk Offender Unit (COHROU) of Manitoba Justice includes a gang prosecution and probation team and an overall gang management strategy that addresses community and institutional needs."
"Attorney General Gord Mackintosh today announced new resources to fight organized crime by creating new initiatives to take on gangs and organized illegal activity, building on the success of existing tools and 54 new police officers funded in Budget 2005. March 2005"
"'Spotlight' Key New Plank In Youth Gang Reduction Strategy: Chomiak October 5, 2006"
How well has the NDP performed in fighting gangs? Take the ten second gang-fighting government test:
Are there less gangs? Yes. No.
Are the gangs less violent? Yes. No.
Are gangs drying up because they can't recruit new members? Yes. No.
After 10 years in power, the NDP have FAILED to stop the growth of gangs, to curb the violence associated with gangs, and to keep young children out of gangs.
So now we should believe that Sheriff Dave Chomiak, the man who ended hallway medicine in six months, will succeed, right?
Why has the NDP been such a bust despite its weekly anti-gang news release?
You don't have to look any further than the last time any government dismantled a major gang in Manitoba.
When the Filmon government arrested 33 members of the Manitoba Warriors and prepared to prosecute them in a newly built courthouse, the NDP attacked the attorney general for not being sensitive enough to the native gangmembers and their families.
Leading the attack was NDP MLA Eric Robinson, whose brother was among those charged----and eventually convicted.
"This trial won't better relations between aboriginal people and whites," Robinson said at the time. "If I joined four Indians outside we'd be called a gang."
"Did you have friends you hung around with in high school? Were you called a gang?" Robinson blustered.
The Winnipeg Sun said he "bristles at Justice Minister Vic Toews' law and order stance. "They have more of a jail-first-ask-questions-later approach," he said of Toews' regime. "It's one thing to be tough on crime, you're also responsible for what's happening on the street."
Once the NDP took power in 1999, Eric Robinson became a cabinet minister and the NDP introduced its own "holistic" approach to gangs, starting with hands-off aboriginal gangs.
The Manitoba Warriors regrouped. Other gangs sprang up. Street gangs, primarily native in appearance, spread throughout Winnipeg and into Indian reserves across the province until….
"The single biggest issue we face is the organized nature of crime and gangs," Chomiak said during a news conference last week following a Statistics Canada report which showed Winnipeg was still the murder capital, car theft capital, and violent crime leader in the country.
As a born-again crime-fighter, Chomiak scrapped that dumb old "holistic" talk. It was time for talkin' tough, like a real man.
"The disruption and the prosecution of gang offences is the key to the drug trade. It's the key to prostitution. It's the key to laundering money and it's the key to human trafficking."
"Most of them, you can't in the conventional sense of the word reform, but if you're in their face you can disrupt their activities."
Yeah, tell 'em "Six Months". In yo face, sucka.
Of course, the new, new, new, new, etc. anti-gang strategy won't be ready until September, well past the best summer months for gang killings. Why September?
Because that's when the Legislature gets back in session.
When the Legislature prorogued, Dave Chomiak was a mess.
The Opposition had been hammering away at the government for revelations that the NDP had fraudulently collected tens of thousands of dollars from the public purse by fraudulently claiming non-existent election expenses and getting reimbursed.
Chomiak, who was involved in the scheme up to his eyelids, looked like a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown as he tried to deflect questions about the scandal.
But come September, he will enter the Legislature a new man. Like Wyatt Earp cleaning up Dodge City.
He'll introduce the newest anti-gang legislation, accept the accolades of the press and public, and, above all, be untouchable if the churlish Opposition tries to raise the rebate fraud scandal again.