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Province of Alberta puts criminals on notice!

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Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

Ministers Jason Nixon, Rick Wilson and Doug Schweitzer announced further steps to combat rural crime, which includes expanded authorities and roles for Government of Alberta peace officers from the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch and the Alberta Sheriffs.

From The Province of Alberta

Government announces plan to combat rural crime

The province is standing up for rural Albertans by acting on concerns to deter crime, reinforce property rights and give victims a stronger voice in the justice system.

“We are sending a strong signal to rural Albertans who have been victimized for far too long. We have listened to you. We have heard you. And we are standing with you. We want to ensure you know that we are going to do everything we can as a provincial government to help you feel safe in your communities.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

“In many ways, rural communities are the heart of this province – hard-working, salt-of-the-earth, and always ready and willing to lend a hand to a neighbour in need. It’s heartbreaking to see the scourge of criminal activity worsen in these communities over the past several years, and we need to take action. This is an issue that affects many in my own community, and it is one that I take very seriously. As we promised, our government is taking immediate steps to make sure everyone feels safe and secure in their homes and in their communities.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks

Integrating provincial peace officers

In rural areas, police can be stretched across large distances, which can lead to longer response times. To help reduce response times, the government will create the Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence Force – the RAPID Force – by expanding the roles and authorities of 400 peace officers in the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch and the traffic arm of the Alberta Sheriffs. The changes will allow these officers to respond to a wider range of calls and to assist the RCMP and other police services in some emergencies.

Training and related planning is underway, to have the first of these officers available to assist rural Albertans by fall 2020.

Strengthening property rights

To defend the rights of law-abiding property owners, the government will introduce changes to the Occupiers’ Liability Act.  These changes would eliminate the liability of law-abiding property owners who are protecting their property against trespasses who are, or who are believed to be, in the commission of a criminal act. This provision will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.

To strengthen trespass laws and further defend property rights, planned legislation includes a proposed five-fold increase to the maximum fines for trespassing offences, with fines of up to $10,000 for a first violation and $25,000 for subsequent offences, as well as possible prison time of up to six months. Corporations that help or direct trespassers would face fines up to $200,000. In addition to these increases, a proposed change would increase the maximum amount a court can order for loss of or damage to property from $25,000 to $100,000.

The planned legislation would amend the Petty Trespass Act to add explicit references to better capture land used for crops, animal-rearing and bee-keeping.

A proposed biosecurity regulation under the Animal Health Act would create offences and penalties for people who enter agricultural operations without authorization or encourage others to do so. Such incidents can introduce disease and threaten the welfare of animals.

Cracking down on metal theft

Government has proclaimed the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act to deter metal theft by making it more difficult for criminals to monetize stolen material by selling it for scrap.

Metal theft is a significant public safety risk. Thieves terrify property owners by trespassing and stealing materials such as copper wire and industrial batteries and frequently damage and interfere with critical systems like electrical lines, telecommunications cables and transportation infrastructure.

Criminals often steal metal from property owners and critical infrastructure in isolated areas to avoid detection. This has also made rural Albertans a target of trespassers and thieves looking for metal.

The Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act was passed in 2012, but never proclaimed. An Order in Council signed Nov. 5 puts the legislation into effect immediately.

Regulations outlining requirements on dealers and recyclers to obtain proof of identification from sellers, record and retain details of transactions and share information with law enforcement will be in place by spring 2020. There is also an immediate requirement for scrap metal dealers and recyclers to report any suspected stolen property in their possession to authorities.

A new voice for victims

Community impact statements will recognize the far-reaching effects of a crime and how an entire community can suffer harm or loss.

A new program will enable communities to take part in the sentencing of offenders by letting them submit a statement describing how the crime has affected the community as a whole – including the emotional, physical and economic impact, or fears they may have for their own security.

A community impact statement could be written on behalf of any group of people, such as those in a geographic area, diverse segments of the population, and groups affected by the crime.

Community impact statement forms will be available online in early January.

There will also be additional support for victims, via a new Restitution Recoveries Program. The program will help victims collect outstanding payments on restitution orders by giving government the authority to use enforcement measures against offenders, such as garnishing wages or seizing and selling property, as needed.

This program will reduce red tape for victims who would otherwise have to navigate the legal system and attempt to collect court-ordered restitution at their own risk, effort and expense.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Alberta Liberals appoint John Roggeveen as interim party leader

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CALGARY, United Kingdom — Alberta’s Liberals have appointed a Calgary lawyer to hold the party’s top job months after the resignation of its former leader. 

The party issued a statement saying its board of directors named John Roggeveen to the role, but offered few other details. 

The party, which currently holds no seats in the provincial legislature, has been without a leader since November when David Khan stepped down to pursue a job in his previous field of law.

Roggeveen, too, is a lawyer by trade, most recently practising privately in Calgary. 

Liberal Party President Helen Mcmenamin describes him as “the ideal candidate” for the role, citing “years of political experience and a deep commitment to building the Party and serving Albertans.”

Roggeveen says it’s an honour to take the party reins and is pledging to bolster its presence in the province’s political landscape. 

“Good policies are one of the strengths of our party, but good organization will be the foundation for successfully implementing them,” he said in the statement. “My focus will be on creating a stronger organization so that the Alberta Liberals will be a force in the next election.”

The Liberals were once the province’s official Opposition, but after a high of 32 seats in 1993, the party suffered from ups and downs until it fell to third-party status in the legislature in 2012.

It secured a seat for only one member in 2015 and was shut out of the legislature entirely during the most recent election in April 2019.

Saturday’s statement neither specified the expected length of Roggeveen’s stint as party leader nor spelled out the process for choosing a permanent successor.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Wayne Middaugh leads Howard rink to victory in its opening game of Tim Hortons Brier

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CALGARY — It was a triumphant return to the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier for Wayne Middaugh.

With Glenn Howard ailing, Middaugh led Howard’s Wildcard 3 team to a 9-5 win over Gregory Skauge of Northwest Territories in the opening game of the tournament for both rinks Saturday.

Middaugh originally joined Howard’s rink last month as a fifth but was forced into action after Howard suffered broken ribs in a snowmobile accident.

A broken leg derailed Middaugh’s competitive playing career in January 2016 when he was Howard’s vice at the time.

Middaugh was on crutches at the Brier that season to help the team from the coaching bench.

Middaugh last actively played in the Brier in 2013.

A Canadian Curling Hall of Famer, Middaugh has won Brier and world gold medals at three different positions.

He and Howard won a world title together in 2012 with a different lineup.

On Saturday, the Wildcard 3 team cemented its win with three in the ninth end.

In other action, New Brunswick’s James Grattan defeated Mike McEwen (Wildcard 1) 6-3, Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs got past Yukon’s Dustin Mikkelsen 11-3 in eight ends and Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson edged Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher 5-4.

Two more draws were scheduled for later Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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