Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ken Epp Award Nominee: Daryl Kramp

One of the lessons of the "crying wolf" fable -- besides the obvious one that lying is bad -- is that one needs to choose one's words carefully, otherwise one won't be taken seriously.

It's a lesson that Daryl Kramp, the Conservative MP for Prince-Edward-Hastings, needs to learn, judging from his question yesterday to the Minister of Justice:

Mr. Speaker, at the justice committee yesterday we heard senior police officials from across Canada pleading with the government to wake up to the realities that they are facing: the reality that innocent people are being shot, gangs and thugs are ruling the streets, witnesses are afraid to testify, drugs are rampant, parole and bail is just a revolving door these days and repeat offenders are commonplace.

When will the Minister of Justice listen to the police, listen to the victims and listen to Canadians and support the additional mandatory sentences that which the police are calling for?

While the man used to be a police officer himself, it's not an excuse for this kind of overstatement.

This is a classic mistake in speechmaking. Supposedly the device is used to emphasize a point, but in this case it engages counter-intuition. Mr. Kramp's description sounds more like Batman's Gotham than any Canadian city I've been in or read about, and that includes Vancouver's East End.

More to the point, by invoking images out of comic books and TV shows, there is an implication that the member has not done his homework and is therefore out of touch. Which is all the more reason why responsible people -- and for all his faults, Irwin Cotler is an responsible minister -- tune them out, even when their actual concerns are legitimate.

Daryl Kramp's silly use of rhetoric has actually hindered his effectiveness at addressing a problem. Hence, his nomination for the Ken Epp Award.