By Letter to the Editor on April 7, 2018.
I have seen the impact of crime in rural communities first-hand. Where I live in Boyle, I have had my own property stolen more than once. Albertans from one end of this province to the other have their own stories.
Rural property theft has long been a concern, one the Progressive Conservatives did little about when they were in office. Before I was elected MLA for Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater, I was an insurance agent in Athabasca and Boyle, and I worked with countless rural property owners who were dealing with the aftermath of thefts and break-ins. As an MLA, I continue to hear these stories. In some areas, the problem is getting worse.
Too many of my neighbours have had their houses broken into, their tools stolen, or have had their quads and trucks disappear. Some have even lost grain dryers while they’re still in use.
It’s become so bad at some points I’ve heard shopkeepers despairing about being able to stay in business, and farmers wondering how they can keep farming if they can’t leave equipment in their fields or leave their yards without fear of coming back to nothing.
Albertans expect their elected officials to provide law enforcement with the tools to keep our communities safe.
So you can imagine how surprised I was when on March 15 every UCP member in the house voted against $37 million in much-needed funding that would help fight rural crime all across the province.
Jason Kenney has been talking down this government’s and the RCMP’s efforts to combat rural crime, including the recent $10 million investment to hire more sworn officers and civilian staff to support them.
He even said his party won’t have policies to combat rural crime until 2019. It’s almost as if he wants things to get worse instead of better so he can keep playing politics with this serious issue. But Albertans can’t wait — that’s why we’re taking action now.
This government has the backs of rural Albertans, and I will continue to advocate to make public safety a priority in our communities.
(The writer is MLA for Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater)
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