By Angela Pitt, Airdrie MLA and Wildrose Shadow Justice Minister
The downturn in Alberta’s economy has been linked to the increase in crime across the province and every area is feeling the impact.
It’s why Wildrose announced the launch of the Alberta Crime Task Force this week to tour the province and get feedback from Albertans on how to fix the problem.
The Task Force will be touring across the province to hear directly about how crime is impacting your community.
According to the most recent Crime Severity Index from Statistics Canada, Alberta saw a shocking 18 per cent increase in reported crimes in 2015, including a 12 per cent increase in violent crimes.
According to Calgary Police, person crimes are up 7.6 per cent and property crimes are up 4.8 percent since 2015.
Grande Prairie was recently rated the most dangerous city in Canada by StatsCanada, with both Red Deer and Edmonton well above the national average.
In Amisk, Alberta, a town with a population of 200, a local bank was robbed for the second time in over a year. And in Airdrie, where I live, the local CIBC and many other local businesses were recently robbed.
The Alberta Crown Attorneys’ Association President James Pickard recently said in the past two months criminal charges against 200 people have been stayed, including 18 accused of drunk driving.
Albertans have seen recent headlines of those accused of violent crimes, drunk driving and assault have their trials stayed as crime is rising in their community and across the province.
A new protocol issued from the NDP government encourages Alberta prosecutors to triage resources away from serious violent crimes.
The document cites “fiscal constraints” and “increased demands on the justice system” as reasons for the new protocol.
The head of the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service said that triage is “absolutely not to soften prosecution standards for serious and violent crime.”
This is an emergency that is making Alberta’s streets less safe. For those accused of criminal charges, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
This is not how Alberta’s justice system is supposed to work. Families are frustrated about the rising tide of crime in Alberta and NDP policies are making a bad situation worse.
Wildrose has pushed for policies in the past to increase monitoring of violent offenders and for stricter enforcement of conditions of release. We’ve pushed for tougher sentencing on the trafficking and production of dangerous opioids like fentanyl. And recently, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean pushed private members’ legislation to increase accountability in our courts and justice system that the NDP voted down.
It’s these ideas we will be looking for feedback on. Our MLAs will be fanning out across the province to hear directly from you.
You also have a chance to tell us directly your ideas to build safe communities and give us feedback on the state of the justice system at crimetaskforce.ca.
Wildrose will continue to lead on justice policy reform to ensure Albertans can live with peace of mind without having to worry about the safety of their community and loved ones.