Sylvia Culshaw doesn’t mince words when she talks about tackling crime in rural Central Alberta.
“Don’t talk, just do something! … Like my mother used to say, ‘S___ or get off the pot!”
On Sunday, the 69-year-old senior emailed a copy of a letter she wrote to federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to about 260 recipients, hoping people both in Central Alberta will urge the federal government to get tougher on criminals.
She’s hoping a lot of those she sent the letter to will now also contact the minister themselves.
The letter expresses concern about numerous break-ins and robberies in the region. “Since there is little or no deterrent for committing these crimes against law-abiding Canadian citizens, something needs to drastically change, and soon,” Culshaw’s letter stated.
Friends of hers now have a safe room in their rural home after they were broken into at 2:30 a.m., when they were home, she said.
Culshaw and her husband Doug, both age 69, live on their farm in the rural area around Sylvan Lake. They have lived on their farm for about 25 years and are members of a rural crime watch association.
“So many people in Central Alberta have been broken into, have been vandalized, have had many things stolen, and you know what, the judicial system obviously does not seem to be working,” Culshaw said Tuesday.
She asked the office of her MP, Blaine Calkins: “What do we need to do? March on Ottawa? Have a revolution? Become vigilantes? What? If you guys aren’t going to do the job then maybe some of us need to.”
“It’s becoming an epidemic and the RCMP’s hands are tied. They pick up these guys … get them into court and they get a slap on the finger.” RCMP are “running ragged.”
“The consequences have to be severe enough to elicit a change in their behaviour. … It’s ridiculous.”
“I’m not getting paid $400,000 a year to come up with a solution. … We’ve got people paid to come up with a solution,” Culshaw said, referring to the Justice minister.
Calkins said he will be attending an upcoming rural crime prevention meeting in Lacombe and he understands the concerns because he grew up on a farm in the area.
People are more vulnerable because they live further away from each other and the police detachment is not around the corner, the Conservative MP for Red Deer-Lacombe said.
“Police are very busy and you can find yourself in a situation that’s potentially scary and dangerous and feeling not too reassured.”
He said his approach is that he is going to work with constituents and there are cases where communities have become very active and organized and were able to reduce the local crime rate significantly.
He said the poor economy and high unemployment in Alberta doesn’t help.
“When there isn’t a whole lot of hope on the horizon, people get desperate, and I’m not making excuses for anybody on any front but the crime rate is significantly higher in Central Alberta, especially Red Deer, than it is in most other places in the country right now.”
“That will spill into the rural areas.”