“We will do everything within our power to stop the revolving door in our justice system, and to keep Albertans safe,” Kenney says

LAC STE. ANNE COUNTY, AB (March 27, 2019): Albertans were today promised more judges, more prosecutors and stronger laws part of a United Conservative plan to tackle Alberta’s growing crime wave.

“The first duty of government is to protect public safety,” Kenney said. “But on that score, this NDP government has failed. Crime has risen steeply since the NDP took over with its soft on crime approach. A United Conservative government will act to give our police and prosecutors the tools they need to protect law abiding Albertans and put serious criminals behind bars.”

Kenney cited statistics that reveal a growing crime problem in Alberta:

  • Auto theft is way up and Alberta leads the country in auto-theft—at three times the national average with 62 stolen vehicles per day, on average.1 The Alberta Motor Association says there has been a 32% increase in vehicle thefts since 20142. 29% percent of all vehicle thefts in Canada happen in Alberta, according to Statistics Canada3
  • By 2018, the rural crime rate in some communities rose by 250% compared with 2011.4 They included communities such as Innisfail and Bonnyville where property break-ins were up 94% and up by 133% respectively between 2016 and 2017.5
  • In 2018, Edmonton Police Service reported6)that since 2015, assaults were up 11%; property crimes were up 13%, and sexual assault incidents were up 17%.
  • In 2018, Calgary Police services reported7 that over the last five years there was a 6% increase in property crimes, a 25%increase in financial robberies, a 26.3% increase in sex offences, a  27.6% increase in robberies, and a 35.9% total increase in assault crimes.8
  • Maclean’s reported last November that 7 of the top 10 cities in their Canada’s Most Dangerous Places 2019 ranking (based on 5-year change in crime severity index) are from Alberta.9

“Triage is something you do in a hospital after a disaster. What’s a disaster here is that the NDP is failing in government’s most basic responsibility – law and order. Albertans are concerned about property crime, lax sentencing, early release… They deserve better. Criminal justice has to be properly funded.”

Kenney stated today that to protect law abiding Albertans, a United Conservative Party government will hire 50 new prosecutors and support staff.

“This is a $10 million investment in security for all Albertans,” said Kenney. “It would help to clear the backlog in our courts, and stop the NDP’s policy of release criminals to revictimize Albertans.”

Kenney also announced that a UCP government will boost funding by $20 million over four years (69 percent) to the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), who deal with children’s exploitation, domestic violence, stalking, and gang issues, among others. The $20 million funding increase will:

  • Double ALERT’s funding for its sub-unit, the Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) unit that tracks, arrests and prosecutes child pornographers
  • Double the funding for its sub-unit, the Integrated Threat and Risk Assessment (I-TRAC) unit, the police unit that helps combat domestic violence and stalking
  • Create a new Opioid Enforcement Team

A UCP government will also work with ALERT to obtain a charitable foundation (akin to the Calgary and Edmonton Police foundations) which can then attract additional funds from the private donors.

Kenney also promised that under a UCP government Albertans would know the truth about crime in their province.

“We will pass the Public’s Right to Know Act. This bill will require an annual report to the legislature containing detailed provincial crime statistics.”

A UCP government would also replace the Parole Board of Canada with an Alberta Parole Board for offenders serving sentences of under two years.

And because crime victims can often fall through the cracks, a UCP government will also conduct an immediate review of the current model of victim service delivery, victim assistance funding, and victim compensation to ensure optimal assistance to victims of crime.

A UCP government would also invest $5 million to increase access to Drug Treatment Courts as an effective way of helping drug addicts to leave the cycle of crime and addiction through treatment, testing, incentives, sanctions and social support.

The responsibility for law enforcement is shared with the federal government. A UCP government will therefore also negotiate with the federal government (and with other provinces as necessary) to:

  • Secure additional Queen’s Bench justice appointments to reduce the backlog in superior courts.
  • Ensure that Grande Prairie be given its own Queen’s Bench.
  • Develop and put in place a specific Repeat Offender Policy.
  • Ensure the return of criminals who have fled to other provinces, to face justice in Alberta. (According to Alberta police forces, flight-across-borders has become a critical problem given the number of jurisdictions involved, especially in western Canada.)
  • Review current Criminal Code sentencing principles to ensure that in rural crime offences, specific facts be considered by a sentencing court as aggravating factors, and that the principles of deterrence and denunciation be prioritized.”

In 2018, the UCP released its Alberta Rural Crime Strategy, calling for a provincially regulated police response system linking all enforcement agencies to pursue the relatively small number of organised, repeat offenders who are responsible for most rural crime.

 “Our Rural Crime Strategy would establish these specialized Crown-police units in every judicial district,” said Kenney.  These units would then handle high-risk offender cases through the system, from arrest all the way to sentencing.”

Kenney made the announcement at the Lewis Farm in Lac Ste. Anne County, which has been hit by multiple burglaries in recent years. “The Lewis family is typical of so many rural Albertans who have been forced to live in fear by criminal intruders. In fact, they had a break in and robbery just this past weekend. They deserve to know that the government is doing everything it can to stop their lives from being disrupted by crime yet again.”

These pledges are the latest in a string of measures announced by Kenney and deputy party leader Leela Aheer to protect vulnerable Albertans, especially women. These include:

  • The ‘Saving the Girl Next Door Act’, which targets human traffickers.
  • $5 million in extra funding for Sexual Assault Crisis Centres.
  • Improvements to the collection and storage of evidence of rape, especially in remote and rural areas.
  • Clare’s Law, which permits police forces to share with women who wish to know, any record of sexual violence their partner may have.

“Nothing is more important than protecting the safety of law abiding citizens,” said Kenney. “Too many Albertans are being victimized, and too many criminals are going through a revolving door justice system, back out on the streets claiming new victims. A United Conservative government will do everything within our power to stop the revolving door, and to keep Albertans safe.”