MP for Red Deer-Lacombe Blaine Calkins recently tabled Private Member’s Bill-C458 in the House of Commons, which aims to add the targeting of rural and remote citizens for the purpose of crime as an aggravating factor during sentencing.
The Bill comes after the concerns of the Alberta Rural Crime Task Force, which was a study conducted by rural Conservative MPs from Alberta, went unanswered by a the Federal Public Safety Committee.
“They heard from witnesses and they had a timeline in the motion to report back to the House within that timeline,” Calkins said. “They missed that timeline by five months and the report they came back with was only two pages long.
“It basically dismissed all of the concerns that people had, saying that local municipalities and provinces could deal with it.”
Calkins said their report included a number of factors that could be addressed by the Federal Government including a crackdown of repeat offenders.
“One thing police will tell you is that in rural areas, the vast majority of people committing these crimes are in and out of the system all of the time,” he said.
Calkins said the only thing left for him to do after the Committee chose not to take action was to table this Bill, which would mean justices in Canada could apply more jail time at sentencing it is could be proved the offender deliberately targeted vulnerable people in rural or remote areas.
“It is by no means a comprehensive thing, it was just something I could do,” he said.
Considering the Fall election, it is unclear whether this Bill will be considered in session — but Calkins hopes it is addressed after the election either as-is if the Liberals maintain power, or as a larger omnibus rural crime Bill if the Conservatives take power.