Rural crime in Alberta has been spiking for years. While RCMP stats claim the increase is as low as 41% somehow, local stats just in my little area have vehicle thefts increasing as much as 300% and property crimes in general doubling in the last few years. This trend is evident across the entire province.
Below is my local report for just the last two days. It just doesn’t stop.
Jason Kenney and the UCP requested an emergency debate on rural crime in the legislature last November. The request was unfortunately shut down by the Notley government.
It came as no surprise to rural citizens when a situation arose which led to somebody getting shot.
Fortunately, nobody was killed when the situation unfolded on Eddie Maurice’s property in the very early hours of February 25th. A man was shot in the arm however and now Eddie Maurice is facing some very serious charges for the crime of standing up to protect his family.
Frustrated, infuriated and sympathetic citizens came out en-masse to show support for Eddie Maurice and his family last Friday when Maurice made his initial court appearance.
It speaks volumes when 200 people make time early on a cool Friday morning to come and stand outside of a rural courthouse.
Rural citizens are tired of being robbed and terrorized. They fear for the safety of their families and their property. They understand that things are escalating and that any one of us could have found ourselves in Eddie Maurice’s shoes if put into the same situation.
We understand that if this explosion of rural crime is not addressed soon, it is inevitable that a situation is going to arise where a person gets killed. Warnings from the RCMP against us defending ourselves and our property will mean little when we find intruders threatening our homes after dark when we know that the average police response time for an emergency is 40 minutes. We will take things into our own hands and deal with the legal fallout later.
The Maurice incident appears to have finally awoken the Notley government on the issue as $10 million was just dedicated to fighting rural crime.
The funding will bring 39 new officers, 40 civilian staff and 10 Crown prosecutors focused on rural crime.
I fear that the increased officers and prosecutors will be used to crack down on crime victims who act to protect their own property but lets hope for the best. The government realizes that there is a serious problem and the addition of more officers is a good start.
Now that Notley and the NDP have awoken on the issue, where is Jason Kenney and the UCP? Where is Andrew Scheer and the CPC?
The issue of rural crime has been burning hotly throughout Alberta yet the silence from our elected conservative officials has been nothing less than deathly.
While I understand and appreciate that MLAs and MPs should not speak directly to specific cases before the courts, there is no reason nor excuse as to why they cant speak to the broader issue of rural crime as a whole.
While hundreds of citizens gathered in Okotoks last Friday, Pat Stier and Wayne Anderson of the UCP were nowhere to be seen. John Barlow of the CPC was absent as well. Neither the legislature nor the parliament were sitting on that day. If 200 people gathered and fearing for their safety is not an issue for an MP or MLA to attend to personally, what the hell is?
Now is not the time for political cowardice. This issue is too damned important.
Yes, there are some sticky aspects to this issue that makes many politicians want to cover their political testes and hide. Firearm use is touchy and polarizing. Addiction issues make many politicians squirm. While the Maurice issue appears to have no racial element involved in it (thank FSM), a huge amount of rural crime is directly tied to the socioeconomic catastrophe that we call the reserve system. Few things make politicians shudder more than native issues.
Well too damn bad! Suck it up guys! You campaigned to take on the tough jobs, now one is in front of you and I want to see you address it!
Where are the highway signs advertising town hall meetings on the issue? Where are the emails? Where is the press release? Where is the policy paper? Where is anything on this damn it?
At times, rural voters can be taken for granted by conservative parties in Alberta. The UCP and CPC know that they essentially have all of our rural seats in the bag and they are acting carefully to avoid possibly offending urban voters. Again, that’s just too damn bad. Urban voters would like to protect their safety and property at times too. Find a way to address it for all of us. Its your job.
While elected UCP MLAs are still hiding under the cone of silence, I see that some of those who are seeking nominations are speaking up at least.
Christine Moore is seeking a UCP nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan lake and as can be seen, she is not being subtle on the issue.
Perhaps some of our incumbent MLAs need some nomination challenges based on this issue in order to get them to speak up. Few things wake up a politician faster than the risk of losing their job.
This issue is a literal life and death one. The next incident may end up with a much higher price than a criminal just finding himself with a hole in his arm. A criminal is going to end up dead soon (maybe some are already buried on the back 40). A homeowner may very well end up killed soon too.
Our elected officials need to get on this bus with this one. If they can’t get involved in an issue this acute, what the hell good are they indeed?