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Violent Crime, Gang members, financial compensation

Bad guys' families get compensation

By Arthur Weinreb, Associate Editor,
Monday, July 3, 2006

The Toronto Star revealed last week that several families of gang members and other criminals who are dying with some regularity on the streets of Toronto and elsewhere in the province are receiving compensation on a regular basis. It hardly needs to be said that this money is coming from hard working taxpayers through the prolific spending provincial government.

The Star gave examples of those who have won awards under Ontario's Compensation for Victims of Crime Act. One was the family of a 17-year-old youth who had 14 criminal convictions at the time of his demise. The family was awarded funeral expenses. As was pointed out in the Star article, there are already provisions in place to provide funerals for the indigent but as is typical of modern society, why have one bureaucracy to deal with the issue when you can have two.

Under s. 17 of the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act, compensation can be refused if the victim or his or her family are uncooperative with law enforcement and the tribunal can take the "victim's" conduct into account when adjudicating on an award. Nevertheless some families of bad guys who are members of violent criminal gangs are receiving public funds.

It is a travesty that anyone receives public money on behalf of a "victim" who was a gang member or involved in a serious criminal lifestyle at the time of their demise. There should be an absolute bar in receiving any government compensation for these criminals and their families.

Although Ontarians might not know it, the way Premier Dalton McGuinty spends their money, our resources are limited. Funds that are allocated to victims should be given to those who, at the time of their injury or death, were contributing members of society and worthy of being compensated after being injured or killed as a result of a criminal act. To pay a gang member or his family after he becomes the loser in a gun battle is totally absurd.

We live in an age where awarding criminal conduct should hardly be surprising. There are those that feel that everyone, with the exception of a few well-heeled white males, is a victim and deserves government compensation. There seems nothing wrong with doling out taxpayers' money to a drug-dealing, gun-toting gang member whose primary role in life was that of a hardened criminal.

Society is way past the point where we will ever hold parents in any way responsible for the actions of their offspring. This is consistent with the view that the state has replaced parents in the bringing up of children. The best example of this is the national daycare program that was the centerpiece of the federal Liberals during their losing campaign last winter. Only the government knows what's best for children; not parents. Parents aren't responsible enough to raise their kids. And now, not only do we find that the parents aren't responsible; we compensate them for the death of their children when the criminal conduct of these kids leads to their demise. It's one thing to not hold parents civilly or criminally responsible for the actions of their children when they become violent gang members; it's quite another to provide these same parents with public compensation.

Making payments to the families of dead gang members and other career criminals is unfair to those who are completely innocent and become victims of violent crime. And the payments add to the notion that there is no individual responsibility; it's all society's fault that criminals turn out the way they do.

The law needs to be changed to make membership in a gang or serious criminality a bar to receiving any money under the Compensation of Victims of Crime Act.