Most Canadians Believe Justice System Too Lenient on Repeat Offenders

— Poll also reveals Canadians show tremendous support for a “three strikes” rule —
— Results released in advance of CTV broadcast of Mayerthorpe this Sunday —

Canadians across the country overwhelmingly believe that the country’s justice system is too lenient on repeat offenders, a new poll released today by CTV and The Strategic Counsel reveals. As the third anniversary of the Mayerthorpe tragedy approaches, the issues surrounding the horrible event continue to engage the nation. The poll indicates that nationally, three in four people surveyed (75 per cent) agree that the Canadian justice system is too lenient on repeat offenders, with 50 per cent saying the justice system is “much too lenient.” Only five per cent felt that felt it was “not at all lenient.” Canadians also strongly indicated they want to see major changes with respect to how violent offenders are dealt with in this country. An extraordinary 72 per cent of respondents support adopting a hard-line “three strikes and you’re out” rule, similar to that practiced in the United States, in which a person found guilty of three violent crimes receives mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Only 21 per cent opposed such a policy.

The poll indicates that Canadians speak with a unified voice about the issue among age, gender and regions:

Q. Is the Canadian justice system too lenient when it comes to its treatment of repeat offenders or individuals with multiple criminal convictions?

76% of women and 73% of men said yes.
78% aged 30-49, 77% aged 50+ and 62% aged 18-29 said yes.
Among regions, the strongest response came from residents of Alberta, where the Mayerthorpe tragedy occurred, with a whopping 83% responding that the Canadian justice system is too lenient on repeat offenders. Agreeing were respondents in Atlantic Canada and Manitoba/Saskatchewan (80%), Ontario (77%), British Columbia (74%) and Quebec (64%).

Q. Should Canada adopt a “three strikes” rule, similar to that seen in the United States, in which an individual convicted of three violent felonies receives mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole?

74% of women and 71% of men said yes.
75% aged 30-49, 71% aged 50+ and 69% aged 18-29 said yes.
Among regions, the strongest response came yet again from Alberta, with 80% of respondents saying they were in support of such a rule. Support for the proposal was also received by respondents from Atlantic Canada (79%), Quebec (78%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (75%), British Columbia (67%) and Ontario (66%).

“These findings provide a crystal clear perspective that Canadians want tough measures taken against criminals, particularly repeat offenders,” said Tim Woolstencroft, Managing Partner, The Strategic Counsel.

“It’s time for the Liberal senate to pass the crime bill that has been in front of them for quite some time,” said Keith and Colleen Myrol, parents of slain RCMP officer Brock Myrol. “Are they playing politics? Yes. Are they being of service to Canadian families? Definitely not. This bill has merit. It’s not the be all and end all, but it’s a very good place to start.”

CTV commissioned the poll to gauge current attitudes of Canadians towards repeat offenders in the community and the effectiveness of the Canadian justice system. The results of the poll are released in advance of the premiere of the CTV Original Movie Mayerthorpe, airing Sunday, February 10 at 9 p.m. ET (check CTV.ca for local listings). The movie is a testament to the strength and dedication of the families of four slain RCMP officers who lost their lives at the hands of heavily-armed, habitual criminal James Roszko, who ambushed them on his farm near Mayerthorpe, AB. Valuable input from family members during the process helped set the tone for the movie to be as accurate as possible, both historically and emotionally.

“After viewing Mayerthorpe, we feel that this movie definitely shows the failings of the justice system, not only for the average Canadian citizen, but in such a way as to undermine the efforts of our police,” said the Myrols. “We sincerely hope that it gets Canada talking and helps to get Ottawa moving to make the changes necessary to solve this problem.”

Mayerthorpe is a chilling dramatization of the events leading up to March 3, 2005, when RCMP officers Anthony Gordon, 28, Leo Johnston, 32, Brock Myrol, 29 and Peter Schiemann, 29 were murdered by James Rozko. The horrifying event was the RCMP’s greatest loss of life in a single day and left an entire country asking “why”? As the three-year anniversary of the tragedy nears, the question still remains.

“Mayerthorpe is both a poignant tribute to the RCMP officers who died that day as well as a complex portrait of a national tragedy. It will generate many questions that deserve to be answered,” said Susanne Boyce, President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc.

CTV / The Strategic Counsel Poll Information
A CTV/ The Strategic Counsel Poll was conducted from January 31 to February 4, 2008. The findings are based on interviews conducted by telephone among a weighted national sample of 1000 adult Canadians 18 years of age or older. A sample of 1,000 yields a margin or error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. Note: Due to rounding, proportions may not total to exactly 100 per cent.

The survey asked two separate questions related to repeat offenders and the Canadian justice system. The first statement posed was “Is the Canadian justice system much too lenient, somewhat lenient, not very lenient, or not at all lenient when it comes to its treatment of repeat offenders or individuals with multiple criminal convictions?”

The response was, much too lenient (50 per cent), somewhat lenient (25 per cent), not very lenient (12 per cent), or not at all lenient (five per cent).

The second statement was “Should Canada adopt a “three strikes” rule, similar to that seen in the United States, in which an individual convicted of three violent felonies receives mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole?” The response was strongly support (44 per cent), somewhat support (28 per cent), somewhat oppose (10 per cent), or strongly oppose (11 per cent).

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