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.”
“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.”
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.
Loss of Keystone XL pipeline expected to hurt future oilpatch growth: experts
CALGARY — An industry analyst says Western Canada’s oil producers will likely cope better in the short term with Joe Biden’s cancelling of the Keystone XL presidential permit this week than they did with the same move by ex-president Barack Obama in 2015.
But Phil Skolnick, a New York-based analyst for Eight Capital, agrees with other observers that the end of the pipeline will stifle new investment and production growth in the Canadian oilpatch for years to come.
Shortly after being inaugurated on Wednesday, U.S. President Biden, who was Obama’s vice-president, fulfilled a campaign promise and took away the pipeline permit that former president Donald Trump returned to builder TC Energy Corp. in 2019.
Skolnick says the difference between now and 2015 is that producers are looking forward to opening two other export pipelines — Line 3 and Trans Mountain — that together provide nearly one million barrels a day of export capacity.
Richard Masson, an executive fellow and energy expert at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, agrees the two remaining pipelines will provide enough capacity to allow oil production to grow into the second half of this decade.
But he says uncertainty about capacity beyond that point makes it impossible for producers to make decisions about new multibillion-dollar oilsands projects, which could take five years or more to plan and build.
Canadian Energy Pipeline Association CEO Chris Bloomer, meanwhile, says excess space in the oil transport system is vital going forward to provide optionality, energy security and stable pricing for producers.
Earlier Thursday, TC Energy Corp. said it planned to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project.
The company had previously warned that blocking the project would lead to thousands of job losses.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)
The Canadian Press
Calgary man appeals conviction for drunk-driving crash that killed his daughter
CALGARY — A Calgary man who killed his daughter and seriously injured her best friend in a drunk-driving crash is appealing his conviction and sentence.
Michael Shaun Bomford was found guilty last January of dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm, as well as causing the 2016 crash while impaired.
He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.
Bomford has filed an appeal that claims the sentence was excessive and unreasonable in the circumstances.
He also suggests the trial judge erred by ruling hearsay text messages admissible at trial.
Bomford is serving his sentence at the Drumheller Institution in Alberta.
Court heard Bomford had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when he took his 17-year-old daughter, Meghan, and her friend, Kelsey Nelson, to get police checks so that they could become junior ringette coaches.
His daughter did not survive the crash, while Nelson suffered a severe brain injury and has no recollection of it.
Bomford’s trial heard that he lost control of his Jeep while driving 112 km/h in an 80 km/h zone. The Jeep rolled into the median and all three occupants were thrown out of the vehicle. (CTV Calgary)
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020.
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