On July 3, Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright MLA, Garth Rowswell, disagreed with the federal gun prohibition and touched on RCMP and rural crime.
“What the federal government is trying to do is an overreach,” said Rowswell.
“The types of guns they are going to get rid of are commonly used and they are going after law abiding gun owners who have been very responsible for years. We think it would have been a better idea to focus on securing our border and making sure that illegal guns didn’t come into play.”
He said that this was part of reason the Alberta government wants to install their own Chief Firearms Officer. They plan on talking to firearms clubs and owners to see how they can help because the Alberta government is also frustrated and aims to try to help gun owners push back against the federal government.
“We should try to work together with the RCMP as much as we can, but I understand the frustration,” said Rowswell.
He hopes that if their aim was to exclude law enforcement, that local gun clubs would rethink their recent policy changes because it is not the local RCMP who made the rules, and that they help to maintain the laws. Rowswell also said that their rentals for training days would help to maintain a nice revenue source, so altering the existing clubs instead of building a new law enforcement only one should be looked at as an option.
He does not know whether or not the RCMP should be replaced by a provincial police force, but said the idea is worth exploring.
“It would require a study and presentation to Albertans at large along with an explanation of what they would do with all of the federally owned stations and employees,” said Rowswell.
In regards to any improvement being made to the processing of court files, he said that the Alberta government is trying to fill 25 unoccupied prosecutor positions, as well as to create an additional 50 prosecutor positions.
As for rural crime, Rowswell addressed possible reasons the number of offences went up in 2019 in the County of Vermilion River (CVR) despite having a Rural Crime Task Force assisting area detachments.
He said that in addition the CVR has put funds towards two more officers in Kitscoty, and that sheriffs and game wardens have been given more responsibility to enforce the rules.
“That all takes time,” said Rowswell.
“ We haven’t recovered from the fall in the economy 4 – 5 years ago (which is when rural crime became more widely recognized) and the job losses at that time may have prompted the initial increase.
“Drugs has a lot to do with it. We are trying to help people get off drugs and perhaps then the motivation to do more crime will go down.”
The Province of Alberta has shifted their aim to fund recovery instead of just harm reduction. Through the Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright Constituency Office, they have provided financial support for both the Thorpe Recovery Centre in Blackfoot and Residents in Recovery in Lloydminster.