Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Shrugging off Concerns about Rural Crime, Opposition MPs Charge

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Shrugging off Concerns about Rural Crime, Opposition MPs Charge

Article excerpt

Liberals shrug off rural-crime concerns: MPs

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OTTAWA - A Liberal-dominated parliamentary committee's report on rural crime is "an insult to all Canadians," Conservative MPs say in a dissenting statement that decries waits of hours or even days for police to respond to calls in remote areas.

New Democrat MPs on the House of Commons public-safety committee also want stronger federal action on crime in Canada's hinterlands, saying the "incomplete" report fails to take into account the difficulties witnesses described in the committee's hearings.

The committee undertook the study following adoption of a motion put forward in the House by Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs. The resulting majority report, which landed last week in the Commons, acknowledges that crime in rural areas is a growing concern to people who live outside Canada's cities.

During hearings last year, witnesses told the MPs of break-ins, thefts and assaults, including violence towards women, as well as dishearteningly long waits for police to turn up.

The resulting report, which is three pages long, encourages provinces to spend more on emergency-response services and dispatch centres, and says the RCMP should look for ways to partner with other police agencies.

Effective crime-fighting requires adequate police resources, partnerships with the community, robust victim support and a justice system that inspires public confidence, the report concludes.

That falls far short for Conservative members of the committee, who filed their own report calling for tougher steps against repeat offenders, greater use of electronic monitoring of people on release and clearer self-defence laws.

Evidence pointed to "critical gaps" including insufficient resources at RCMP detachments, an absence of emergency dispatch services in rural and remote areas, and a lack of help for victims of physical and sexual violence, the Conservative report says. …

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