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Legislative Report (24 August 2005)

Legislative Report

24 August 2005

Why is the Calvert NDP Ignoring Problem of Gangs and Crime?

The amount of crime in Saskatchewan has gotten out of hand, yet Premier Calvert or his Justice Minister, Frank Quennell are doing little to address the problem. This has got to change.

Saskatchewan families should be able to live without fear. They should not have to worry about opening their door to strangers, or walking the streets of their community.

According to the Criminal Intelligence Service Saskatchewan Winter 2005 Report, Saskatchewan has the highest per capita concentration of young gang members in the country. Statistics Canada identified Saskatchewan as having the highest violent crime rate, the highest property crime rate and the highest total crime rate of any Canadian province.

To put that in perspective, Saskatchewan's violent crime rate is more than double the national average. Regina has the highest crime rate and Saskatoon has the second-highest crime rate among Canadian cities on a per capita basis.

Although the most recent rash of violent crime has mainly affected the cities, rural communities are experiencing their fair share of crime. Just this week, a meth lab was found in Humboldt and the largest ever Saskatchewan bust for marijuana happened near Fort QuAppelle.

Our leader, Brad Wall, has heard from many families that something has to be done. Last week he announced a committee of MLAs to look into the problem and to develop solutions by working with various sectors of the community.

Saskatoon Southeast MLA Don Morgan and Justice Critic is chairing the committee. Ted Merriman, Community Resources and Employment Critic; June Draude, First Nations and Mtis Relations Critic; and Don Toth, Corrections and Public Safety Critic will also join Morgan on the committee.

When the NDP heard we were calling for action and a reduction of crime, MLA Pat Atkinson said we were fear-mongering. Thats the exact same reaction we received from them when we raised the issue of crystal meth last year. And what an about face weve seen from them on that issue.

This week, Justice Minister Frank Quennell told radio talk show host John Gormley that, ..the people of Saskatchewan are generally as safe as the people in any part of the country. But this isnt true for all groups. In our inner cities in Saskatoon and Regina where aboriginal and poor people live and in the north we have very high crime rates which bring up the provincial average. most violence still in Saskatchewan as elsewhere is violence inflicted by somebody you know.

But thats exactly the point a lot of Saskatchewan people live where there are very high crime rates and dont feel safe in their own neighbourhood. What Quennell is essentially telling people is that your chance of drowning is low unless you are swimming in the rapids.

As with so many other important issues, Saskatchewan families cannot wait for the NDP to provide leadership on the issue. This is the same administration that has yet to make good on its six year old promise to provide 200 new police officers. And it was the Calvert administration that signed off on the closure of rural RCMP detachments along the Saskatchewan, U.S. border in the south-west corner of the province a move that came just weeks after U.S. officials warned of crystal meth production and trafficking moving north into Saskatchewan.

The NDP ignored the child sex trade problem until it was raised by the Saskatchewan Party; they also ignored crystal meth until it was raised by Saskatchewan Party.

The Saskatchewan Party will continue to press the government to take action on issues of safety that are affecting Saskatchewan people and families. We should all feel safe to walk the streets in our communities, no matter where we live.

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