MEDICINE HAT, AB — A Conservative Member of Parliament has put forward a private member’s bill to amend the Criminal Code of Canada in regards to sentencing perpetrators of rural crime.
Blaine Calkins, the MP for Red Deer-Lacombe, tabled Bill C-458, a private member’s bill, on Saturday. The bill calls for an amendment of the Criminal Code to add add ‘evidence that an offence was directed at a property or person vulnerable due to their remoteness from emergency services’ as a factor judges can consider when sentencing suspects.
“I’m tabling this bill now because the public safety committee didn’t offer any real solutions in their two-page report on the study of rural crime. I find this to be an appalling lack of sensitivity, and victims in rural areas deserve better,” Calkins said to RD News Now on Saturday,
Calkins led the Rural Crime Task Force, which was formed in 2017, and also included Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner MP Glen Motz.
Motz is supportive of Calkins’ private members bill.
“As a legal system in this country, we need to take crime seriously,” Motz said over the phone from Ottawa on Monday. “It’s victimizing Canadians, and I think anything we can do to hold criminals (accountable) for their actions is a step in the right direction to make and improve public safety.”
Motz has made rural crime a priority during his time in office, and says he is disappointed with the lack of attention and focus on this issue from the Liberal government.
According to Statistics Canada, the police-reported crime rate in rural Alberta was 10,964 per 100,000 people in 2017. The rate for urban areas was 7,920 per 100,000 people.
“This Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau has failed to tackle to rapid growth of rural crime in Alberta and across the country,” he said. “It is growing at a faster pace than crime in urban areas...the problem is even more acute in the prairie provinces, where rural crime was 30 to 40 per cent higher than in urban areas. It is a serious issue.”
Calkins indicated on Saturday if the bill does not pass before the start of the summer recess, he will table it following the fall election.
-With files from RD News Now
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