Many Albertans have felt the impact of rural crime, an issue that has been top of mind since I was elected.
My Conservative colleagues and I have been working tirelessly to ensure greater resources for law enforcement to do their jobs, tougher laws to deter those would-be criminals and reduce the number of recidivists on our streets.
This contrasts with the Liberals’ approach to public safety which is characterized by numerous miscues, poorly crafted and misguided legislation such as C-21 (gun buyback), C-22 (eliminating mandatory minimums), and C-71 (a backdoor gun registry passed by the Liberals in 2018).
MP Blaine Calkins recently introduced his Private Member’s Bill, C-289. This initiative, which I am proud to co-second, targets recidivism and provides rural crime with necessary distinction in the Criminal Code.
The bill, if passed, will create an aggravating factor for targeting a property or person that is vulnerable due to its remoteness from emergency medical or police services and expands the aggravating factor for home invasion to better apply to crime in rural areas.
This will be done in two ways; by expanding the applicable area for home invasion beyond just the “dwelling-house” to other buildings on the property such as a barn or a shop, and by expanding the criteria so that the possession of a weapon or imitation weapon would trigger the aggravating circumstances, even if violence or threat of violence was not used.
This means that shops, barns, or garages, which many rural Canadians spend great amounts of time in and keep extremely expensive equipment and other possessions in, would qualify in the same way as their home would.
Bill C-289 will also address repeat criminals and the “revolving door” of our legal system by ensuring that a sentencing judge considers the reason why an offender did not receive bail for the purposes of credit giving for time served while awaiting trial.
Over the last number of years, we have seen a troubling increase in rural crime. The police-reported crime rate and the crime severity index have increased every year between 2015 and 2019 (the most recent year that data is available. Police-reported crime increases in 2019).
Further, the crime severity index (CSI) and Violent Crime Severity Index (VCSI) are significantly higher in rural Canada than in urban areas.
This is evidence of a failed approach to rural crime and an absentee Public Safety Minister who refuses to admit there is a problem, even when given the opportunity to do so.
The crime problems we face here in east-central Alberta wreak havoc on law-abiding citizens and cause incredible amounts of distress, and Conservatives know this.
As a lifelong resident of Battle River-Crowfoot, I have seen the escalation in crime and know the impact it has had on our communities, which is why I will continue to fight for rural Canadians by supporting the passing of Bill C-289 into law.
We will continue to hold the Liberals accountable for their lack of action in combatting rural crime.
Damien Kurek, MP
Battle River – Crowfoot Constituency