“Rural crime is on the top of many of our region’s minds. When families in the Lakeland are worried about not being able to protect their families and property from repeat offenders we have a problem.”
MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake, Scott Cyr spoke of a meeting he had arranged with Alberta’s Justice Minister, the Honourable Kathleen Ganley. The MLA invited representatives from communities, municipalities, and indigenous communities in his constituency to have an hear with the Minister.
“During the last set of town halls I relayed the message that I wanted victims to email my office about rural crime in our area. Local victims of crime heeded my call and emails and letters flowed into my office,” explained Cyr, “I took those letters and read parts of them in the Legislature and tabled them for all the MLAs to see. The number of letters I tabled from our area was disheartening and in December of 2017 I requested in question period (see this link https://www.facebook.com/
The Minister accepted Cyr’s invitation for a sitdown and it went from there.
“During that process I realized that including our neighbours in Lac la Biche – St. Paul – Two Hills and arranged with the ministry to also invite MLA Dave Hanson and through his office his local municipalities, settlements and reserves.”
Acting as one voice for our region we can and will bring criminals to justice. – Scott Cyr MLA Bonnyville – Cold Lake
Cyr said the meeting was respectful. “I believe it helped the minister saw our frustration and understood that we want to help the minister solve this growing problem.” Cyr explained distinct solutions came out of the meeting:
- More prosecutors in our region to reduce the caseload.
- Less plea bargains to criminals who are repeat offenders in order move them quickly through the system.
- Need to do a better job sorting repeat offenders and ensuring they are held to account. We have a small number of criminals doing the lion’s share of the crime and the revolving door must end.
- Municipalities in many cases know who these repeat offenders are and want to be able to put input into priority criminals.
- Look into more enforcement powers for our peace officers.
- Review satellite offices in areas that further from the headquarters. A presence in smaller communities matters.
- Look at helping our officers with administration staff to do paperwork in order to keep them in the communities catching these criminals.
Cyr said he believes the meeting was successful and the rural voice was heard. “From those who attended the northeast Alberta meeting I have heard from many of them that it was well received. I would like to thank all those who attended the meeting and their commitment to their communities. They drove long distances to bring our region’s voice to the minister and for that I am truly thankful.”
“Additionally, the Minister of Justice and her staff needs to be acknowledged for their allowing the meeting to be facilitated by myself (a United Conservative Party MLA out of the Bonnyville – Cold Lake constituency). Clearly, this meeting held risk for the minister, but this is a non-partisan problem that needs solving.”
The NDP had to acknowledge that rural crime is a problem. – Scott Cyr MLA Bonnyville – Cold Lake
In March of 2018 the NDP announced $10 million in funding to rural Alberta with the intent to address rural crime. This is a start, said Cyr, “however, as a region we need to continue to keep pressure on the minister’s office to hear to our cries.”
“I encourage our local residents to continue writing letters and emails about rural crime to my office and I will bring them to the legislature. It isn’t a coincidence that the letter writing campaign started in rural Alberta saw action from the Minister.”
“For those who sent letters to my office I would like to thank each and every one of you. It is hard to write about how rural crime has affected your families, yet from those letters we can show the government the current state of how bad crime really is in our region,” Cyr encouraged the public to continue speaking loud about the issue.