Provincial parole board should help with property crime frustration, minister says

Gun control measures moving forward as well

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Alberta’s Minister of Justice continues to pound the pavement (so to speak) to promote his department’s efforts to put “more Alberta and less Ottawa” in the justice system here at home. Last week he was on the phone (again), talking to weekly newspapers about recent developments.

  1. The establishment of an Alberta parole board and
  2. The establishment of an advisory board on gun control.

On the first item, Schweitzer said having a provincial parole board should improve the so-called ‘catch and release’ system of dealing with criminals that frustrates so many Albertans. Having “common sense Albertans” on the board, he said, will work better than the federal parole board that is currently doing the job.

The new parole board will have jurisdiction over a lot of property crime stuff – in other words people who have been sentenced to less than two years for thefts. The rise in thefts – particularly in rural areas – is a huge area of frustration for Albertans, and the provincial government has been hearing about it. The message with the provincial board seems to be that people who deserve to remain locked up will remain locked up if a parole board made up of Albertans is on the job.

“We want to have people on the board that understand the havoc that this (thefts) is causing,” Schweitzer said.

As to when the board might be established, first things first. The legislation to create it must pass first, which the minister figures will be this spring. After that the call will go out for applications.

“If anyone from your area is interested,” Schweitzer said….feel free. What membership would entail remains to be seen. But Schweitzer did say he expects the burden of attending meetings could well be eased by using the new technology for remote attendance.

Firearms
On the firearms front, the gun control advisory panel that Schweitzer spoke about a few weeks ago has been set up. He said it will advise the government about “potential legal challenges,” and such. It’s fair to say the Kenney government is not a fan of Ottawa’s new gun-control efforts.
Schweitzer said they make criminals of law-abiding gun owners overnight, without notice or consultation.

Another new thing coming is a ballistics lab. Schweitzer said for half a million dollars, Alberta can get one of these and greatly reduce the time it takes to get forensic analysis results on weapons used illegally. Under the current system, – where the RCMP sends such guns off to a lab in another part of the country – the results can take up to eight months, Schweitzer said. He added that Conservatives (I.e the provincial government) are as much opposed to illegal firearms as anybody, and thinks the feds should be focusing on the ones that come in over the border, rather than making criminals out of the aforementioned law-abiding owners. Having a forensics lab here in Alberta will help get cases through court faster, he said. So the government has made the decision to spend the $500,000.

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