The Alberta NDP are promising to hire more police officers if they form government following next month’s election even while their candidates have a lengthy history of espousing defund the police rhetoric.
In an announcement on Sunday, the Alberta NDP said it would restore municipal funding and hire 150 more police officers and pair them with the hiring of 150 social workers, mental health workers, addictions counsellors and more.
The announcement follows a spike in criminal activity across Alberta’s major cities.
“We need social supports,” NDP leader Rachel Notley wrote on Twitter. “We need to fight despair with hope. With real support. Not rhetoric.”
In response to the Opposition’s announcement, former police officer and Calgary-West United Conservative Party candidate Mike Ellis said Notley and the NDP have “zero credibility” when it comes to tackling crime and keeping Albertans safe.
“For years, the NDP have been advocating to defund the police, insulting law enforcement with hateful comments, and championing extreme leftist policies that would flood our streets with taxpayer-funded drugs,” Ellis said in a statement. “This is what the NDP truly supports.”
In October 2021, the Alberta NDP candidate for Edmonton-Ellerslie, Rod Loyola, said in a now-deleted tweet that having an Edmonton police badge “gives you the right to beat up citizens and not have to face criminal charges.”
In June 2020, the party’s Calgary-Bow candidate Druh Farrell said she could not help but wonder about domestic abuse within police families after watching videos of nonwhite people assaulted by officers.
“There’s some sick rage there,” said Farrell. “I would bet it goes home with them and the outcome goes largely unreported.”
That tweet has also since been deleted.
Meanwhile, the Edmonton-South candidate Rhiannon Hoyle said she supported freezing Edmonton police’s budget when running for city council.
Likewise, when Lethbridge-East candidate Rob Miyashiro served as a city councillor, he voted to reduce the Lethbridge police’s operating budget by $1 million.
And at the height the police movement in 2020, when US cities were destroyed by rioters, candidate Janis Irwin shared #DefundThePolice in an Instagram story.
Those comments were uncovered amid a wave of horrific crime in Edmonton and Calgary.
In just one day last week, Albertans witnessed a series of violent crimes. Calgary police discovered a corpse in a suitcase, meanwhile in Edmonton, police confirmed a man found dead in his apartment over the weekend had been shot to death in a homicide. That same day, a teenage boy was attacked in an Edmonton mall and remains in serious condition.
In his visit to Edmonton last week, Poilievre attributed the crime wave to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “costly coalition with the NDP” and their policies that allow the same repeat violent offenders loose on the street to “terrorize innocent people.”
“We’ve got to replace these crazy catch-and-release crime policies with a common sense criminal justice reform, and that’s exactly what a Pierre Poilievre government will do,” he said, calling for “jail not bail.”
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has already created public safety task forces in both Edmonton and Calgary, added more police to the streets, and instructed officials to hire an additional hire 100 more street-level police officers over the next 18 months.
Pertinently, the party is also addressing root causes of criminal activity, spending millions since 2019 to develop a wide-ranging recovery program unlike anything else in Canada.
That includes six massive recovery communities currently being built by the province. The first of those opened in north Red Deer earlier this year. It’s nearly the size of a football field, has 75 beds, and the ability to treat up to 300 people per year.
Poilievre said the plan is working.
“It’s bringing down overdose rates, unlike in British Columbia, where the rates have gone up 300%,” he said last week. “It’s clear from the facts. The debate is over.”