Click here to view original web page at From self-defence laws to 911 access: How the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP would address rural crime
Ralph Goodale. – SaltWire Network File Here are key excerpts from the main report (which reflects the Liberal majority on the committee), the dissenting Conservative opinion, and the supplementary NDP opinion OTTAWA , Ont.— The House of Commons public safety committee has released a report into rural crime in […]
Here are key excerpts from the main report (which reflects the Liberal majority on the committee), the dissenting Conservative opinion, and the supplementary NDP opinion
OTTAWA , Ont.— The House of Commons public safety committee has released a report into rural crime in Canada , and — surprise, surprise — the major political parties couldn’t agree on a set of recommendations.
Here are key excerpts from the main report (which reflects the Liberal majority on the committee), the dissenting Conservative opinion, and the supplementary NDP opinion. The excerpts have been edited for brevity; the full report is on the committee’s website .
Main report (Liberal) recommendations
Witnesses explained to the Committee how rural residents are sometimes left on their own because of long police response times, which can be hours or even days in some cases … The Committee recognizes the feelings of helplessness of the witnesses, and their desire to take matters into their own hands. However, the Committee discourages this kind of intervention by citizens … While community watch groups and rural crime groups should be encouraged, they should not be an alternative to professionally trained police officers.
Witnesses also emphasized the importance of partnerships between police forces and community groups, who can be the eyes and ears of front-line officers. Moreover, the Committee heard that rural communities are generally very respectful of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) due to their long-term presence and responsibilities within the communities they serve.
Policing is primarily the responsibility of provincial governments …. However, the RCMP is contracted by several provinces, municipalities and First Nations and Inuit communities to provide policing services, including Alberta and Saskatchewan, the most represented provinces in the witnesses appearing before the Committee. The provinces and municipalities who enter into these policing arrangements with the RCMP establish the level of resources, budget and policing priorities of the contract police detachments in consultation with the RCMP.
Therefore, the Committee strongly encourages provinces and territories to increase investments in policing and innovative solutions, including emergency response and dispatch centres. In addition, the Committee believes that every Canadian should have equal access to policing, victim services and programs, and that the RCMP should consider ways to partner with other policing agencies and make greater use of the auxiliary and reserve programs in rural areas.
In conclusion, the Committee believes that effective crime reduction measures should have at least four components: adequate police resources, partnerships with the community, robust victim support and a justice system that inspires public confidence.
(The Liberal) report is an insult to all Canadians, especially victims of crime in these rural areas who are asking for help from their government. To add insult to injury, each of the Liberal members who participated in the study represents an urban riding.
The evidence presented showed critical gaps that are clearly within the mandate and scope of the federal government:
- A lack of police resources in RCMP detachments leading to response times delayed by hours – sometimes days
- Ambiguity in the Criminal Code surrounding property rights and self-defence
- The absence of Emergency dispatch (9-1-1) in rural and remote areas
- Significant financial hardships, mental and physical health challenges and lack of services for victims of physical and sexual violence.
The Liberal report is silent on these issues.
Testimony provided to the Committee noted that criminals preying on rural Canadians are coming primarily from urban areas. Criminals understand that police response times in rural areas can be slow, neighbours can be miles away, and rural regions are easy prey. Repeat offenders should face serious consequences for their actions, have access to addiction counselling, and demonstrate that they have reformed before rejoining society. Canadians deserve to live in safe communities and not be re-victimized by these criminals.
Communities have started to respond by forming their own rural crime watches and conducting volunteer patrols in absence of a police presence. Some rural victims, who took steps to defend themselves and their property, faced more serious police response and prosecutions than the criminals who attacked them. As noted in the Committee, numerous court decisions have called for Ottawa to clarify self-defence laws.
The government could act now to reduce crime rates in rural areas. It could act to prevent repeat offenders from returning to victimize a community again and again. It could improve bail release and custody conditions, and it could increase the use of electronic monitoring. These policies would put the focus back on the criminals, not on victims.
The Liberals could act to clarify self-defence laws, raised since 1995 by the Courts as being inadequate. They could commit to providing support for police and prosecutors on charges against individuals who defend themselves and their families.
The New Democratic Party believes that this report is incomplete because it does not take into account all the rural issues highlighted by the testimonies.
Rural specifics related to the RCMP
The first RCMP assignments disseminate new recruits to rural areas across Canada. Although the committee has been informed of a transition period and training to familiarize recruits with their new environment, it is clear that they have an incomplete understanding of the territory and the specifics of the regions where they are posted.
Assistant commissioner Byron Boucher stated that rural assignments were filled by young recruits and only for short periods of time. In addition, RCMP recruits receive no specific training to prepare for life in rural areas or for remoteness and isolation. New recruits should not be assigned to rural areas unless they are familiar with the environment.
The current report does not address the situation of Indigenous people in the police force. MP Georgina Jolibois suggested revising the RCMP requirements and adapting them culturally to support the recruitment of natives. According to her testimony, the Indigenous application process for the RCMP is too long and tedious.
Peacekeeping program in remote communities
The positive experience of Pelican Narrows community succeeded in implementing a peacekeeping program. Through this program, trained individuals who are not police officers, oversee surveillance activities and can respond to emergencies. These agents, follow a six-week community-funded training program and make their community safer.
Awareness raising and suicide prevention in rural areas
In rural areas, the majority of those killed by firearms are suicides and almost exclusively men. Due to the focus on crime instead of mental health in the discussions surrounding gun control, we struggled to reduce the death by guns and prevent them. In Canada, 80% of firearm deaths are suicides.
We know that plans and strategies can save lives…Motion M-174 of NDP MP Charlie Angus asks for the formation of a national action plan to prevent suicide. Canada is the only G7 country that does not have such a plan.
Support for victims
The current report does not sufficiently address the situation of women victims of sexual or marital violence in rural and remote areas…Because of the closeness of individual in rural areas, they fear being confronted by family members or friends of their abuser in the reporting process of that abuse. In addition, they face a lack of resources and a “culture of acceptance and normalization”.
Access to 911 service
The government should play a role in collaboration with provincial and territorial partners to ensure universal access to 911 emergency service everywhere in Canada in the two official languages.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019