SASKATOON — People in rural Saskatchewan who are worried about crime are organizing on social media to press governments to take action on their concerns.
A Facebook group called Farmers Against Rural Crime was formed last week and now has almost 2,500 members.
Nick Cornea, who farms near Briercrest, says people are fed up with property crimes including stolen vehicles, agriculture equipment and fuel.
He says people feel they should be able to defend their families and their livelihoods, including the right to harm intruders on their land.
RCMP have been telling people they can use force against trespassers depending on the situation, but have stressed it’s better to avoid confrontations.
Cornea says farmers aren’t looking for an excuse to shoot people.
“(There are) people claiming we’re redneck racist farmers, wheeling our guns around our hip like it’s the wild west, that’s not what we’re about,” he said Thursday.
“We need to find a happy medium for what we can do to defend ourselves … life over property isn’t what we’re looking for.”
Cornea says the group would also like to see the Youth Criminal Justice Act amended to allow repeat offenders to be kept in custody for longer.
The group’s recruitment pitch is as straight as a prairie highway.
“This group is to bring as much evidence and knowledge forward to our levels of government,” reads the Facebook page.
“Farmers are tired of falling victim to crime. Please join our campaign to bring real change to our legal system.”
Cornea said if their group can attract enough members governments will have to take action.
“The louder you get, the more people listen,” he said. “I think they have no choice but to listen to us.”