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Rural Crime Watch Presentation to the Alberta Legislature

Rural residents want to see solutions - more effective policing, a stronger justice system, better cooperation between provincial, federal, and county governments.As most of us are aware, on November 27th 2017, 100 or more of concerned citizens made a trip to the Edmonton Legislature in support of doing something about the rampant property crime in our area and central Alberta. The following is a summary of what transpired and also some links to the media coverage resulting from our visit. We encourage everyone to keep the letters to your MLA and Ministers coming.
    Fred Grono, Raven CWS

News Coverage & Resources

Hello Crime Watch members. I thought I would bring you all up to speed on our session at the Alberta Legislature on November 27. There were 100+ of rural constituents from the counties of Red Deer, Lacombe, Mountain View, Kneehill and Lakeland that went to see what our NDP government is going to do about this epidemic of crime in the rural areas.

The first bit of information that we received when we got to the legislature was that the Minister of Justice went on her maternity leave that morning. She was not even there to face us; the Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt is now acting Minister of Justice and was in charge of answering the questions that the Opposition posed to them.

After we were seated in the gallery of the legislature, we were all introduced by the various MLAs of the Official Opposition. After about 15 of us had been introduced, the Opposition was asked by the Speaker of the House if we were all going to be introduced, all 100+ plus of us. The Opposition's comment was, not by one person in particular but that everyone would be introduced. I felt from the tone of voice from the Speaker of the House, he was already done with the subject of rural crime. We had only just begun the question period.

When question period first started it was stated that this crime issue was a federal problem. The Opposition's comment back was: then the Notley government should be pushing the federal government on our behalf. They did a lot of passing the buck while we were there. One of their standard replies was that Jason Kenny was responsible for a lot of it. Many of the MLAs got up to talk about the rural crime epidemic and kept hammering at the NDP to see what their reply was. They wouldn't acknowledge that there is a problem and kept stressing that they only want safe and caring communities. Not once was it ever stated how we are going to get the safe and caring communities when we certainly don't live in them now.

Jason Nixon asked almost immediately if there would be an emergency debate about the epidemic of rural crime. This was then brought up again towards the last of question period. It then went to the Speaker of the House as to whether it would be debated. The NDP government would not support the asking of having this debate. They were against it from the beginning. Brian Mason stood up to give us the NDP reasons why the debate should not be allowed to happen — some reasons dated back a ways and some were not even relevant to our situation. One of the reasons that got me was that they felt that because the Opposition was only asking for it now it can't be that bad. The NDP felt that our problems with crime have only just started, not years or months ago, and that this wasn't enough time frame or a serious enough issue to warrant an emergency debate. They felt that all of the things that we are going through aren't serious enough for them to worry about.

The Speaker of the House wouldn't rule for an emergency debate because the issue didn't constitute an emergency and that Jason Nixon didn't give an example of how violent or serious these crimes are. This came about even though more than one MLA expressed that people are having guns held to their heads and that rural citizens are terrified even in their own homes. Despite all of this, the NDP and the Speaker of the House didn't believe that rural crime is a problem and that our safety isn't paramount to warrant an emergency debate.

The Acting Minister of Justice had prearranged a small meeting with a few of the representatives who attended on Monday. Also in attendance were the Asst. Deputy Minister and Asst. Deputy Commissioner; both are retired RCMP officers. In that meeting the Minister was informed about changes that need to be made to start to fix the broken justice system. He was told face to face about the fears people are facing, the anger we are feeling, and how fed up we are with the fact that nothing is being done. After hearing us out, the Minister himself requested a follow-up meeting before the end of the year. This is at least a step in the right direction.

Did we get anything changed on Monday? No.

Is it a step in the right direction? Absolutely.

Up until now nothing has been done. People in the cities don't know and don't understand what we are going through and it is time that our voices are heard.

Monday wasn't the end of our journey. We are going to be pushing our Federal MPs to take what is happening in rural Canada to the Parliament Building.

We need your support. Keep writing letters. Contact your local news sources and tell your story. Make noise. We need to be heard. We need our governments to listen to us because right now they don't believe there is a problem with crime in the rural areas.

We can't stress enough about keeping your personal information private. Criminals are going to start to target those whose information that they have been able to get their hands on. Twitter and facebook are great ways for them to get your information. One minister read a facebook post that these criminals are reading the info that is being put out there. If you don't want your personal information out there you shouldn't have to put it out there but we should be able to have our stories printed. When you are presenting your stories insist that your names are not used but your stories are still getting out.

It was a very enlightening experience. I know for me, I will once again send off my experience to all of the NDP MLAs and the Premier and the federal government. I will ask once again that you all do this also, because after what we heard on the 27th, it is apparent that our governing body does not believe that there is a problem with crime in the rural areas and are not willing to push the federal government to have a serious look at our justice system.

© Olds Rural Crime Watch Website