The rural crime wave in Alberta is real, and it’s much worse than the government cares to admit. Since 2011, crime rates in some rural communities have jumped by more than 250 per cent. Recently, Maclean’s magazine revealed that 12 of the top 50 most dangerous places in Canada are located in Alberta. Red Deer County, one of the most beautiful rural areas that I have the privilege of representing, ranks as number five in the list.
For several years, far too many victims have suffered in silence. On Nov. 27, our Official Opposition gave these victims a platform, and they had plenty to say. We introduced a group of more than 100 people at the Legislature, including municipal representatives, and local crime watch organizations. More importantly, the group included dozens of victims who are fed up with the government’s turn-a-blind-eye approach to rural crime.
While the NDP prefers to treat rising crime rates as some sort of sociological phenomena, the truth is that every theft and every assault leaves a victim to deal with intensely personal repercussions. This is why we must force the government to face the true cost of its inaction.
For example, MLA Nathan Cooper introduced one of his constituents, Lorraine Richards, who has suffered through seven break-ins. He also spoke about the local grocery store in Carbon, which was robbed twice in a 48-hour period, including an attack where the door was ripped off its frame by a truck and brazenly dragged down the street.
MLA Angela Pitt spoke about double-figure increases in property crimes in Balzac, forcing local shop owners to sleep in their stores overnight out of fear for their livelihoods.
MLA Dave Schneider spoke about one of his constituents who had his truck, tools, and equipment stolen one week, only to have the criminals come back to try to steal his son’s truck the following week.
MLA Ron Orr spoke about the Citizens on Patrol meeting in Rimbey that drew more than 230 people, where we heard from a lady whose fenced, locked compound was broken into four times in four months.
MLA Don MacIntyre spoke about a personal friend who was attacked in his home by five assailants, and beaten with a baseball bat. He also relayed the shock and sadness of a constituent who returned to find her home ransacked and the urn containing her mother’s ashes stolen.
These are just a few examples of the violent crimes that have left so many people and communities feeling violated and vulnerable. It seems we all know someone who has been victimized. This is why I personally requested that the government support an emergency debate on this issue, in full view of so many victims of crime, on Nov. 27. My request was denied.
Our Official Opposition stands ready to tackle the rural crime wave head-on, with dozens of concrete, common sense solutions, however I fear no real progress will be made until the government come to grips with current situation.
Step one is admitting you have a problem, and the NDP isn’t admitting anything.
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