The biggest problem for opponents of Bill C-10, the federal government's omnibus tough-oncrime bill, is that criminals and prisoners have no political constituency. The sort of people who will get swept up in the mandatory minimum sentences contained in the bill are dismissed by most voters as street thugs, pedophiles and gang members.
Eugene Oscapella, a veteran legal-reform advocate, knows this. And so he is careful to make his pitch in terms that respectable, middle-class Canadians - the sort of people with kids in high school or college - will appreciate.
"I teach a criminology course at the University of Ottawa," he told a crowd at downtown Toronto's Church of the Redeemer on Tuesday night. "Eighty percent of my students [would be] criminals under [Bill C-10]. About 10-20% of them would be liable for a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for simply passing a tablet of ecstasy at a party."