BY: LEO KNIGHT
The death of Colten Boushie on August 9, 2016 and the subsequent acquittal of farm owner Gerald Stanley on February 9, 2018 triggered national discussions on the issue of rural crime and highlighted many other instances of rural property owners being charged criminally for trying to defend their homes, property and families.
Last week, the Liberal dominated House of Commons Public Safety Committee released a report after studying the matter and hearing submissions and testimony from groups and affected individuals. The salient part of the report was only three pages and left pretty much everyone unsatisfied.
Conservative MPs called it “an insult to all Canadians.” Even NDP MPs weighed in saying, the “incomplete” report fails to take into account the difficulties witnesses described in the committee’s hearings.
Two witnesses, Eddie Maurice and his wife Jessica of Okotoks, Alberta released a statement quoted in the National Post which said, “The witnesses brought in by Liberal Committee members supported the story that the Liberals wished to find — a story that supported gun control and their firearm-related policies and bills outside the mandate of this study.”
They further said, “They do not understand what it means to live miles from the RCMP station which is understaffed and unable to protect us.”
There are a couple of key points in all of this and the Maurices nailed it.
Eddie Maurice was thrust into the public eye when in February of 2017 he fired warning shots at alleged burglars on his property. One of whom was hit by a ricochet. Police were called and arrested Maurice for various firearms-related offences.
The incident triggered lots of support for them in Alberta and protests showed up at the courthouse for his appearances. The Crown ultimately announced they were dropping all charges.
What many Canadians would like to see is a strengthening of Canadian self-defence laws so folks living in rural Canada would be supported if they used force to defend themselves, their families and their properties.
Many people in rural Canada, especially the prairie provinces, feel like they are under attack as cases like the incident with Colten Boushie and his drunken friends invading the property of Gerald Stanley highlights.
In Saskatchewan in 2016 a group calling themselves Farmers with Firearms was formed on Facebook and has had thousands of likes and follows. There’s no doubt that this is an issue for Canadians.
But as Maurice observes the report of the Public Safety committee does nothing for them. The Liberals want more gun control and even tacitly agreeing with folks who want to have the ability to defend themselves and their loved ones goes against their narrative.
The reality, also noted by Maurice, is the issue of the distance when many live far from those paid to protect them. In urban areas a 9-1-1 call deemed urgent will get a police response in minutes. In rural areas in the prairies that response is typically measured in hours and sometimes even days.
Maurice also hits the nail on the head mentioning RCMP understaffing. I have been writing about this problem since 1999. While it’s difficult to nail down the numbers with any certainty, officers I have spoken to estimate they are understaffed by a minimum of ten percent of authorized strength.
Add that to members away on course, leave, illness and the force has serious issues across the board. Those problems are exacerbated in rural Canada where smaller detachments have difficulty meeting calls for service to start with never mind the distances they have to travel. And the bad guys know this. Coulten Boushie knew this and so did Gerald Stanley.
It was tragic that Boushie died. But, there will be more tragedies like that if the government and the RCMP don’t take action to address the real issues.
More gun control is not the answer.
The question is much more complicated and the Liberal dominated committee report did not seem to take any of it seriously. They have their own agenda and it has nothing to do with protecting Canadians.