Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer hosted a rural crime town hall meeting at the Leduc Civic Centre on Tuesday night, hoping to hear more about the crime issues in the area.
“Albertans need to know that we are dedicated to funding the priorities that we campaigned on,” Schweitzer said.
“Many of the ideas that have come forward this last month are going to become new policy for this province,” he said.
The rural crime meetings were only set to take place during the month of September, but were extended to reach more communities.
Schweitzer says at many of the meetings, he’s noticed a frustration with what he describes as a “breakdown in the justice system” that has led to an increase in vigilante acts in rural areas.
“We are at that point in rural communities where people are pulling guns, people are doing these steps that in many instances are not appropriate.”
Diane Donovan was at the Leduc meeting Tuesday, and said she no longer feels safe after thieves targeted her rural home two nights in a row, smashing the family television and making off with alcohol.
“These people committing these crimes, they know we don’t have policing full time,” Donovan said.
“We do everything we possibly can. We should feel safe when we turn off our lights at night and tuck our kids into bed.”
The former NDP government had previously announced $10 million in funding to fight rural crime in spring 2018, after dozens of rural crime victims pushed the government to help.
In July 2018, Statistics Canada released data showing the rural crime rate continues to increase in the Prairie provinces. Alberta saw a 38 per cent higher rural crime rate when compared to urban crime rates.
Along with the minister’s rural crime tour, the UCP is also offering an online survey until Oct. 31, for those who cannot make the in-person events.
The government will then use the results of the town halls and survey to create a rural crime strategy.