Evidence of meeting #131 for Public Safety and National Security in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was rcmp.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jim Eglinski  Yellowhead, CPC
Christina Johnson  Executive Director, Southeastern Alberta Sexual Assault Response Committee
Trevor Tychkowsky  President, Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association
Alicia Bedford  As an Individual
Geraldine Dixon  As an Individual
Edouard Maurice  As an Individual
Jessica Maurice  As an Individual

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

I'm just trying to get a sense of what has changed. If I'm looking at your community and the type of work you're doing, you're seeing a drop, although you mentioned that there was a huge number of break-ins recently. In what the RCMP is doing in your area, because of this new crime reduction strategy, what has changed to make it more effective? How are you tying into that?

4:10 p.m.

President, Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association

Trevor Tychkowsky

To say that the crime prevention group or the crime—I can't recall the exact name, but—

October 18th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

It's the crime reduction strategy.

4:10 p.m.

President, Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association

Trevor Tychkowsky

Yes, there we go. That organization is quite new at it, so when the whole province is getting it.... When I speak for the Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association, I'm looking at it as our whole community, our complete province. Is crime still going up throughout the province? Of course. But are we starting to see a reduction? Sure we are. Can I say it is that way in our community? No, I can't specifically say that they're in my community to do it, but I am hoping that we'll see some.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Thank you.

Ms. Johnson, this whole crime reduction strategy does seem to me, when I'm looking at it, to be property crime focused. Have you had any contact with the RCMP as part of this crime reduction strategy about how it can deal with assaults against women?

4:10 p.m.

Executive Director, Southeastern Alberta Sexual Assault Response Committee

Christina Johnson

No, we've had no contact.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Okay.

Have you seen any change in the past six months? It's really just the first six months of this program, but have you had any contact with the RCMP about what they're doing?

4:10 p.m.

Executive Director, Southeastern Alberta Sexual Assault Response Committee

Christina Johnson

We co-operate already with the RCMP, and one detachment of the four sits at one of our collaborative tables locally, but there has been no difference in collaboration in the last six months.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Okay, that's helpful.

I'm running out of time, but there is one thing I am interested in.

I live in a big city. In fact, the people in my area do watch for each other and know each other, and that happens in city areas as well. In fact, in some ways, it's harder to escape each other sometimes, because you can hear what's going on in your neighbour's house, especially during the summer.

I'm wondering about the isolation piece in a rural area when we're talking about women. We can hear directly what's happening in each other's home, quite truly, but I would expect that's not the same in a rural area.

What's the impact of that isolation?

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Very briefly, please.

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Southeastern Alberta Sexual Assault Response Committee

Christina Johnson

It's huge. What we know is that high-risk families will move rurally because they'll be less under the microscope.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you very much.

Ms. Stubbs, welcome back to the committee. You have five minutes, please.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Thanks, Mr. Chair. I appreciate the opportunity to participate.

Thanks to both of you for being here and lending your time and insight to this committee's work.

Trevor, from the Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association, I want to thank you for your endorsement of Motion No. 167, and for joining the more than 101 other organizations across seven provinces and the thousands of Canadians who have banded together to bring this focus on rural crime. It is a growing epidemic certainly across our province, but in other places around the country as well.

I would invite you to expand a little more on what my colleague was asking about in terms of the successes that have been seen so far with the crime reduction team.

There's a detachment in my area, for example, where there are four officers who have to cover almost 3,000 square kilometres. There are rarely ever two officers on duty at the same time. They certainly have limited and in some cases no support staff.

I think there's a two-pronged issue here. One is that I'm hoping this committee will do a review of sufficient front-line resources in rural, remote and indigenous communities.

Also, would you say, given that there have been successes and a moving of the dial as a result of the work of these dedicated crime reduction task force teams, it reinforces the argument that there should be a bolstering of RCMP law enforcement visibility and active presence in rural and remote communities to combat rural crime?

4:15 p.m.

President, Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association

Trevor Tychkowsky

Absolutely, Shannon. You're absolutely right in saying that.

In our community, we have four members. You hit it dead-on, in that when that special task force comes in, they do a great job, but unfortunately, there's only so many of them.

We see it just like a band-aid, because it's only going to cure part of the problem. I believe that at one point, they came into our community, but a short time later, all of a sudden there were another 11 break and enters in 24 hours.

You're right. We have one officer that's on, and it makes it very difficult. The criminals figure that out. They know where the police officers will be. They know when it will be a longer period of time for them to get there.

We know that's happening right across the province. The criminals are figuring all that stuff out. Having that special task force team is great—I applaud the RCMP on that—but it is not the total answer.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

I think that the RCMP officers are doing the best that they can in a very challenged situation, but the success of the task forces would, I think, reinforce the argument that focus needs to be brought about in ensuring there are sufficient resources in those communities.

My constituents often tell me that they feel like sitting ducks, that they know more people whose places have been broken into than those who haven't. They're stressed, anxious and fearful for their families, homes and businesses. They are taking measures to try to protect themselves.

What about this issue of constant repeat offenders and the revolving door? Do you think there needs to be attention given to increasing sentences and penalties to deal with that issue, both in terms of the increase in organized crime and also offenders who are perpetuating these crimes?

4:15 p.m.

President, Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association

Trevor Tychkowsky

Yes, for sure. We definitely are seeing that.

We know of a certain group, and when they were in jail, crime went down. We knew that. When they came out, we were expecting crime levels to increase.

You're completely right, Shannon.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Are there any other additional concrete recommendations or specifics that you would like to see come out of the committee's work?

4:15 p.m.

President, Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association

Trevor Tychkowsky

No. I think a big one is looking at the justice system, for sure, but also, do we have enough police officers out there? As the government, what are we doing for our people to help protect our people? What more can we do to help protect them? They're really starting to not feel safe, and that's not a good feeling in rural communities.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Shannon Stubbs Conservative Lakeland, AB

Yes, and it's a bad thing for everyone, I think, when rural residents are losing confidence, losing hope and feeling that when they call for help it won't necessarily be there. That's frustrating for everybody, I think, both for residents and for law enforcement officers who are just trying to do their job.

4:20 p.m.

President, Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association

Trevor Tychkowsky

Yes, absolutely.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Ms. Stubbs.

I have Mr. Duguid as the next questioner for five minutes.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'll be sharing my time with Ms. Sahota, if time permits.

I want to start by thanking both of our presenters for their excellent presentations. I have a comment and a question for both.

Trevor, I was a member of a citizens on patrol group in my own neighbourhood before political life and also a member of CFCA. I'm very aware of the great work they do, not only to reduce crime in neighbourhoods but also for community cohesion as we get to know our neighbours. I must admit that walking around at two in the morning in my neighbourhood in local parks is sometimes not people's idea of fun, but it was very effective in reducing property crime.

I'm aware that the initiative I was involved with was funded both provincially and municipally, not federally, so I'd like a comment from you on the federal role. Let me first ask Christina my other question and then get both of you to respond, because I want to leave time for Ms. Sahota.

We've launched a gender-based violence strategy of $200 million over five years, which I'm sure you're aware of. The three pillars are prevention, support for survivors and their families and responsive legal and justice systems. I'm aware, particularly in my home province of Manitoba—we're going to be having a delegation from Thompson, Manitoba—that there are very high rates of gender-based violence in our north, which we know we have to do something about. There's a lack of services.

I wonder if you would comment a bit on prevention. We also have some signature initiatives. I'll use my own community as an example. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are very involved in prevention and in engaging young men and boys. They're in the schools. They're really having an impact on reducing gender-based violence and the causes of gender-based violence and in dealing with issues such as consent. Do we need those kinds of initiatives in rural Manitoba and rural Canada?

4:20 p.m.

Executive Director, Southeastern Alberta Sexual Assault Response Committee

Christina Johnson

Yes. If we want to get to the root cause of sexual violence, it absolutely is gender inequality, or it's part of it. Getting to that primary prevention of changing the cultural norms, which I talked about in terms of rurality, is a huge piece. Yes, we need far more, and we need men and boys to be leading that and challenging that to create the change.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Trevor, on the federal role in COPP or CFCA, I'm aware that the federal government at times has funded more boots on the ground for police officers, particularly in urban areas. Is there a role for the federal government?

4:20 p.m.

President, Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association

Trevor Tychkowsky

Yes, I believe so. I think we'd have to explore that option, but you're right. Right now, your funding does go toward the RCMP. We applaud you guys for that. That is a great step, but is there room for you guys to take a more active role in crime prevention? I believe so.