Crime issues are frustrating rural residents but seeking changes to self defence laws is no easy feat. MP Blaine Calkins is working with a rural crime task force to raise awareness of people wanting to see stricter property crime laws. File photo

Changing self-defence laws not an easy process

MP Blaine Calkins working on rural crime issues, says there’s many facets to taking on rural crime

Rural residents have reached the boiling point when it comes to rural crime, with folks saying they are ready to take matters into their own hands.

In a recent story related to rural crime and self-defence, RCMP had a clear message for people, leave guns out of the issue. That story brought passionate response from readers who want to see changes to self-defence laws.

Canada’s Citizen’s Arrest and Self-defence Act in the Criminal Code states that a person is not guilty of an offence if they believe on reasonable ground that force is being used against them or another person, or they are protecting themselves or another person from that use of force, or that the act is reasonable in the circumstances.

Figuring out what is “reasonable” isn’t set out in black and white.

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins has been working on this very issue of rural crime with several MPs and has been speaking with area residents to determine the biggest concern. Changing self-defence laws is not an easy task.

Calkins says rural residents, and police, are at their whits end; people want clarification on how they can defend themselves and police — already stretched thin — are seeing a “revolving door” of criminals doing the same criminal acts.

The question of “reasonable force” when removing someone from a person’s property is a difficult one to answer. “Who gets to determine what reasonable is?” asked Calkins.

The task force that Calkins has been working with hopes to create some changes to property crime laws that appear to protect the criminal more than the property owner. But seeing any kind of immediate change is not going to happen.

“We know that there’s a lot of judicial vacancies right now, which is an issue,” explained Calkins. “We also know that courthouse space, and time is an issue.”

“We also know that prosecution resources is an issue.”

Further to that RCMP have stated more resources are needed to handle crime and RCMP recruitment is a slow process.

“When you factor all of this together, the thieves have figured out that the people in rural Alberta are easy prey,” said Calkins.

Criminals are organized and have a specific “shopping list” of items they’re looking for.

Calkins says constituents want to see more stringent property crime laws and more ability to protect themselves and their property without fearing prosecution.

Changes to the Criminal Code

Canadian laws are more strict when it comes to crimes against people. Calkins referred to a shop owner in Toronto who caught and conducted a citizens arrest of a man who stole from him. That shop owner ended up facing the more serious charges of assault, kidnapping, unlawful confinement, plus the charge of carrying concealed weapons, believed to be box cutters.

“There’s an imbalance. The thieves who are simply there to deprive of property, it seems they have far greater protections under the law than people who are trying to defend their property,” stated Calkins.

His frustration goes further with the tabling of Bill C-75, which is intended to amend the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Calkins says he disagrees with the majority of the bill. Calkins sees this as making the “revolving door” of crime faster.

The amendment proposes to, “…hybridize most indictable offences punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years or less, increase the default maximum penalty to two years less a day of imprisonment for summary conviction offences and extend the limitation period for summary conviction offences to 12 months.”

“Are they going to get more convictions? Yes. Are they going to get more meaningful convictions? Absolutely not,” stated Calkins. “It’s just going to be a paper shuffling process, the slap on the wrist will happen quicker and they’ll just be back on the street.”

Changing the laws a difficult task

Changing self-defence laws in Canada to allow residents to use firearms is something Calkins feels is quite difficult to accomplish.

Many MPs would be uncomfortable with the notion of people discharging firearms, said Calkins. “Frankly…I don’t want to shoot anybody either.”

“I don’t want my family that lives on a farm…shooting at people,” stated Calkins.

“What I really want is a justice system that actually, when we do get bad guys, we actually remove them from repeating these offences and actually have a punishment suitable enough.”

He feels the justice system is not suitable in protecting citizens from theft and property crimes. Despite those issues, Calkins — who says he understands property owners’ frustration — advises rural residents use caution and restraint when possible.

“Most of these folks have been victimized numerous times,” said Calkins.

“Just keep in mind that if you’re going to use severe force, you have to be fearing for your life, and just understand you will get caught up in the judicial system.”

 

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins

Just Posted

MLA Rick Strankman to seek UCP nomination in 2019

Drumheller-Stettler MLA announced Thursday he will run in the next provincial election

Savage makes first court appearance on murder charges

Charged in connection with Stettler murder

UPDATED 2 Semi rollover on Hwy#2 causes traffic detour; one lane open

UPDATED 2 Exclusive photos of semi rollover clean-up on Hwy#2

Stettler FCSS crisis fund dries up

Stettler County releases $17,110 in reserves for Crisis Aid

Medical First Response Program comes to Stettler

More firefighters to get EMS training

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

NAFTA talks hold Foreign Affairs Minister in Washington, substitute heads to NATO summit

NAFTA talks keeping Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, sends substitute to NATO summit

Britain gives long-lost Franklin expedition ships to Canada, Inuit

Deeds to HMS Erebus and HMS Terror signed over to Canada and Inuit Heritage Trust

Grief over deadly Toronto van attack sinks in

Three days after rampage, people still gathering at memorial to lay flowers and honour victims

Liberals urged to tax e-commerce services like Netflix

Trudeau has been adamant that his government wouldn’t increase taxes on online subscriptions

Cartoonist captures public mood following Toronto, Humboldt tragedies

Cartoonist said he was trying to find a bit of positivity with an image that has garnered attention

Stettler begins annual sewer main flushing

Town advises residents to run their water if they smell sewer gas

A Look Back – Stettler Independent Archive Files

1998 - The Bashaw Alberta Wheat Pool elevator is toppled

Bill Cosby guilty in sexual assault case

Comedian convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Most Read


Weekly delivery plus unlimited digital access for $50.40 for 52 issues (must live within 95 kilometers of Stettler) Unlimited Digital Access for one year for $50.40 Prefer to have us call you? Click here and we’ll get back to you within one business day.