Not a good start.
They say you only get once chance to make a first impression.
If so, then Arif Virani – the new federal justice minister – has already blown it.
Virani – as new ministers tend to do – is making the rounds on the media circuit, to boost his profile and get Canadians used to seeing him in his new role.
But Virani has chosen an odd way to get started:
Denying the crime statistics compiled by his own government.
In an interview with Reuters, Virani said that Canadians are not “empirically” less safe from crime:
“I think that empirically it’s unlikely” Canada is becoming less safe, Virani told Reuters in an interview on Monday. “But I think there’s a sense coming out of the pandemic that people’s safety is more in jeopardy.”
Here’s how the Cambridge Dictionary defines “empirically”:
“in a way that is based on what is experienced or seen rather than on theory:”
For example, if someone designed a new kind of parachute and you were asked to be an early user, would you prefer to see it empirically proven to work, or would you be fine being told that it ‘theoretically’ works?
I’m guessing it’s likely the former.
So, it’s quite odd that Virani is chosing to claim that crime is not ’empirically’ increasing, because he has things completely backwards.
Virani is advancing his own politically-convenient theory that crime isn’t increasing, but he has no empirical evidence to back up his claims. By contrast, the empirical evidence shows crime is rising.
Here’s what Statistics Canada – a government agency – says:
“Police-reported crime in Canada, as measured by the Crime Severity Index (CSI), increased for the second consecutive year, up 4% in 2022. The Violent CSI rose in 2022, reaching its highest point since 2007. The Non-violent CSI also increased in 2022 but remained lower than before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The consecutive increases recorded in the overall CSI may indicate a return to the upward trend in crime observed before the start of the pandemic. The first year of the pandemic was marked by a decline in the overall volume and severity of police-reported crime, notably while lockdown restrictions were first implemented, driven by less non-violent crime. Before this drop, the CSI had been rising for five consecutive years beginning in 2015 (+19% over five years).
The Violent CSI rose 5% in 2022, following a 6% increase the previous year. Compared with 2021, the increase in the Violent CSI in 2022 included higher rates of robbery (+15%), extortion (+39%), homicide (+8%) and level 1 sexual assault (+3%).”
Here are some charts from Statistics Canada:
The homicide rate is at the highest level since 1992:
“Police reported 874 homicides in 2022, 78 more than the year before. The homicide rate increased 8% from 2.08 homicides per 100,000 population in 2021 to 2.25 homicides per 100,000 population in 2022. This was the highest rate since 1992.”
Empirically, crime has risen under the Liberal government. Violent crime is rising significantly, and the murder rate is at a three-decade high.
That is not an opinion or a ‘theory’. It is a fact.
For the new Justice Minister to deny statistics compiled by an agency of his own government is deeply concerning. It signals that Virani is already putting short-term political gain above addressing real issues. And, it shows that he is willing to completely ignore reality if reality doesn’t tell the story he wants told.
That kind of mindset is ill-suited to addressing Canada’s surging crime rate, because solving any issue first requires acknowledging that the issue exists.
At a time when this country needs competent leadership, I wish I could say the justice system is in good hands under Minister Virani. Unfortunately, the empirical evidence says otherwise.
Photo – YouTube