Over the last few months I have met with hundreds of residents, police officers, municipal officials, and business owners across our riding about the crime problem in Red Deer – Lacombe. In these meetings, I have repeatedly heard that courts and law enforcement are overwhelmed by high levels of crime, and they are receiving no help from this Liberal Government.
Unfortunately, there has been a persistent shortage of judges in Alberta due to the Liberal Government’s failure to fill the 15 empty judge positions in our province. These 15 judicial vacancies in Alberta make up one-quarter of the total judicial vacancies across Canada – far more than any other province.
Instead of addressing the key problems with our justice system and giving police and the court system the resources they need, the Liberal Government is putting forward a bill that will make life easier for criminals. I am worried that the Liberal Government’s soft-on-crime bill, C-75, will make our communities less safe and deny victims the justice they deserve.
I am particularly concerned by the proposal to change all ‘straight indictable’ offences with a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment or less to be ‘hybrid’ offences. Hybrid offences allow the Crown to decide whether they want to proceed by summary or indictable conviction.
Summary convictions are much less serious than indictable convictions and carry lower penalties in most cases. Alarmingly, serious indictable offences such as abduction of a person under 14 years of age, participation in terrorist activity, theft over $5000, possession of stolen property over $5000 and many others would be reclassified as ‘hybrid’ offences under Bill C-75. If Bill C-75 passes, it is possible that offenders could receive a larger fine for speeding than for abducting a child less than 14 years of age.
Among other things, this Bill will also reduce the release conditions forced on offenders; stop trial lawyers from rejecting jurors they believe may be unfit; and remove accountability for some offenders who breach bail or fail to show up in court.
Bill C-75 is the wrong approach. Justin Trudeau is failing Canadians.
Please contact my Constituency office if you have any questions or concerns on this or any federally related matters, postage free, at: P.O. Box 59 Blackfalds, AB T0M 0J0; tel: 587-621-0020; toll free: 1-800-665-0865 or visit my web site: www.blainecalkinsmp.ca or on twitter at www.twitter.com/blainecalkinsmp
NOTE: The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of rdnewsNOW or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group. Column suggestions and letters to the editor can be sent to [email protected].
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