The president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) said he’s saddened that some believe a self defence resolution passed at its annual convention encourages violence and could lead to fatalities.
On Tuesday, delegates at the convention passed a resolution for SARM to “lobby the federal government to expand the rights and justification for an individual to defend or protect” themselves or their property. SARM president Ray Orb said Wednesday that “there’s been some fear from the rural people that they’re not getting adequate RCMP protection.”
“We need to have better protection for our rural residents that feel threatened, to be able to protect themselves,” Orb said to reporters.
“We realize though that there is a line where people can’t take it too far and injure people that unintentionally come onto their property.”
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) vice-chief Kim Jonathan spoke out against the resolution after it was passed, contending that the measure “propels and encourages violence.”
“It should cause a lot of concern, not just for indigenous people, not just for First Nations people,” Jonathan said Wednesday.
“It should be a society concern.”
Orb said he was saddened by the FSIN’s stance.
“We’re not advocating any kind of farmers to be able to use their own weapons, to be using their guns on their farm beyond what they do for predator control and things like that,” Orb said.
The resolution comes less than a year after 22-year-old Colten Boushie was shot and killed at a farm near Biggar, Sask. Jonathan said she hopes the resolution “does not sway the courts,” in the case.
Now that the resolution has passed, Orb said SARM will figure out exactly how it plans to lobby Ottawa on the issue. He said the group hopes to work with the FSIN and provincial officials to tackle the issue of rural crime in Saskatchewan.
“We’re not supportive of people taking the law into their own hands,” said Saskatchewan Justice Minister Gordon Wyant.
“But by the same token, rural Saskatchewan residents need to feel safe in their own homes.”