Resisting to Penal Populism By Which Means? Discursive Strategies to Barrier Conservative’s Criminal Law Reform in Canada

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:40
Oral Presentation
Mariana RAUPP, Université Laval, Canada
Several observers of criminal law have diagnosed the phenomenon of "punitive turn" or "penal populism" in contemporary western societies (Garland, 2001; Pratt, 2002) including Canada (Dumont, 1998; Doob et Webster, 2006; O’Malley, 2006; Landreville, 2007; Doob, 2012). This communication aims to discuss how opposition parties in Canada (NPD, Liberal, Green and Bloc Québécois) positioned themselves when facing conservative party’s criminal law reform (2006-2015). From a case study of parliament debates of two criminal law project (Bill S-6: “Serious time for the most serious crime act” and Bill C-9: “conditional sentence of imprisonment”), we analyze the vocabulary of motives (Wright Mills, 1940) mobilized by the actors of political system and identifies the divergences and convergences from the strategies of different parties. We argue that despite their political differences, in terms of criminal law, their different discursive strategies rejoin. They immunize their main argument about social reintegration and its values to counter a punitive criminal law. Without a qualitatively different cognitive resource, they reinforce conservative arguments besides formally being an opposition to their criminal law projects. By doing so, this paper aims to contribute to understanding punishment transformation and persistence from a penal policy perspective.