Red Deer-Lacaombe MP Blaine Calkins. Black Press file photo

Central Alberta MPs seek stiffer punishment for rural crimes

Bill C-458 was tabled Friday, and proposes to amend the Criminal Code to account for rural residents

  • Jun. 18, 2019 5:00 p.m.

MP Blaine Calkins has tabled a private member’s bill in the House of Commons aimed at protecting rural residents from increasing crime.

Bill C-458 proposes amending the Criminal Code to add evidence an offence was “directed at a property or person that was vulnerable because of their remoteness from emergency services as an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes.”

The Red Deer-Lacombe MP says this would mean longer sentences for criminals who target people living in remote or rural areas.

“I’m tabling this bill now, because the Liberal-dominated 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,” said Calkins.

A task force was created in 2017 by Alberta Conservative MPs representing rural areas. After consultation, a 30-page report was created.

A key messages the MP heard throughout the consultations was the need to stop the “revolving door” of repeat offenders in the justice system, Calkins said.

“I am very proud to have tabled Bill C-458 on behalf of the thousands of Albertans who have been victimized, sometimes repeatedly, by criminals who purposely target law-abiding citizens living in rural or remote areas,” said Calkins.

Earl Dreeshen, MP for Red Deer-Mountain View, who seconded the bill in the House of Commons, says criminals are getting smarter in who they pick to prey on.

He said criminals know rural properties are removed from emergency services, such as police.

“Bill C-458 will require the courts to consider this intentional act during sentencing,” said Dreeshen.

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