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Freedom Conservatives propose strategies to combat rural crime

Last Updated Jul 31, 2019 at 4:30 pm MDT

PHOTO. David White, interim leader of the Freedom Conservative Party, attended a town hall meeting on July 28, 2019, to discuss rural crime at the Conklin Multiplex. He unveiled the policy of the FCP on rural crime today. Supplied by Conklin Multiplex/Facebook.

The Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta (FCP) unveiled its platform on addressing rural crime.

Interim leader David White presented strategies at a news conference in Edmonton this morning.

White, who attended a town hall meeting in Conklin last Sunday, said residents are fearful for their lives.

“There was one [picture], and it will not leave my mind, and that is ‘how we go to bed at night’, and there was a rifle in bed. That is not how people in Alberta should be living.”

He added residents said they feel forgotten and terrified.

“My mind immediately went to [the] Wild West, where everybody is shooting up the streets, and I’m not saying that’s what’s happening, but if you’re hearing gunshots every night that fear is constant, and when people are threatening your lives, it is constant.”

Townhall meeting

The FCP spent much of the three-hour meeting at their multi-plex listening to the people of Conklin.

White said residents are proud to live and work in the rural hamlet.

He said Conklin residents want a marked police presence for the area.

“[They] have this $45-50 million multi-plex and it had the promise of a police resource built into it, and it has never happened.”

White added he supports the RCMP but argued they are undermanned and underequipped.

Nevertheless, rural communities like Conklin need a proactive, invested, familial response to support residents and frontline officers.

Along with 2-4 year deployments and the use of drones, the party would expand the role of the Alberta Sheriffs.

Already providing traffic and security services, White said they can do more in the fight against rural crime.

“It’s just a matter of enhancing a framework that already exists. We already have a framework in place to continue to fortify and build form.”

He noted the Alberta Independence Party made a similar proposal before the spring election.

Another major proponent of White’s proposal is to employ the Castle doctrine.

Under certain circumstances, this law gives a person defending them or their property immunities to use force against an intruder.

The law would also extend to use of deadly force.

“You’re 140 kilometres away from any form of help, these people are coming for you and your family right there [and] then: You should have the right to defend yourself.”

White said some jurisdictions in North America have variations of the castle law such as the “stand your ground” law.

Party policy

David White and the Freedom Conservatives also unveiled strategies for drug addiction and mental health.

White said the FCP would implement a three-strike system revolving around long-term treatment.

If drug offenders fail a third time, however, his government would seek a maximum sentence.

As for mental health, White said his party put forward several strategies.

He said they would provide safe sites next to hospitals, improved access to proven treatment, and support for families.

David White and the Freedom Conservatives plan to present their findings to the RCMP.

He also said they pledged to revisit the residents of Conklin in a few weeks time.

“The terror that exists is undeniable, and I’m not unstating this. This is real life for these people.”