Many Albertans have lost confidence in Canada’s justice system – and with good reason. Child killers, gang members and sexual predators are consistently being released without serving their full sentences and, in many cases, while still considered dangerous to the public. The system is seemingly obsessed with protecting the rights of the perpetrators rather than the victims of their crimes. Meanwhile, the rights of law-abiding citizens to be protected and fairly compensated are often undermined.
In terms of policing, our province is facing significant challenges as it tries to deal with organized crime, gangs, child exploitation, identity theft, and white collar crime. Too often, the rights of the accused and convicted criminals seem to supersede the rights of victims.
But efforts to combat violence, abuse, drugs and gangs need to begin much earlier. Instead of young people only learning about crime, guns, gangs, and drugs through glorified representations in music and on television, a more concerted effort must be made in our schools and after-school programs to ensure our youth understand how dangerous these issues are and how to avoid or escape them.
Finally, on the issue of Human Rights, Albertans overwhelmingly support the principles of equality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and all other rights protected under Alberta and Canadian human rights legislation. It is critical that we protect the human rights of all members of society, whatever their ethnicity, religion or background, and regardless of whether they have the financial means to defend those rights in our oftentimes expensive and complicated justice system.
However, the current Alberta Human Rights Commission has failed to fairly deal with human rights complaints. In fact, the Commission and their tribunals have become something akin to ‘kangaroo courts’, where rights are pitted against each other and interpreted by individuals who are often unqualified to make judgments on the most foundational of protected rights in society. In addition, the hallmarks of justice, such as the rules of evidence, standards of proof, and protections against frivolous and vexatious lawsuits, are not afforded in these Commissions or their related tribunals, bringing the administration of justice into disrepute.
- Protect the rights of victims by advocating for federal legislation that would see convicted criminals financially compensate the victims of their crimes without the need for costly civil trials
- Work aggressively with the federal government to implement truth-in-sentencing by ending the practice of double credit for time served pre-trial by convicted criminals
- Tighten bail conditions for repeat and dangerous offenders
- Advocate for mandatory minimum sentences for violent criminals to ensure the sentence matches the severity of the crime
- Increased monitoring of violent offenders and stricter enforcement of conditions of release
- Ensure FOIPP laws aren’t getting in the way of parent, schools, and other bodies get important information about youth-at-risk
- Strike a taskforce to study and make recommendations that will ensure timely access to Alberta’s justice system in a more affordable manner, including an examination of how to better streamline the rules of court, make self-representation easier and safe, elevate the role of legal agents, incent lawyers to do more pro bono work and build a more effective legal aid program
- Introduce family law reforms which will ensure improved compliance with both maintenance and visitation orders
- Review the ‘Minor Injury Regulation’ caps on car accidents to ensure fairness to victims
- Create a fully integrated and compatible database and communications system for the sharing of investigative intelligence by police agencies and to assist in coordinating enforcement operations amongst first responders
- Target child abuse, child exploitation, and child pornography by significantly increasing funding for Alberta’s Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) teams
- Immediately proclaim into law Bill 202, the Mandatory Reporting of Child Pornography Act (introduced in 2010 by MLA Heather Forsyth)
- Legislate a “Victims’ Bill of Rights” to ensure victims are given the resources, protections and compensation necessary to cope with the damage inflicted on them by criminals
- Examine the roles of the RCMP, municipal police and provincial sheriffs to ensure effective integration and to guarantee accountability to Albertans – all police agencies, including the RCMP, must be overseen and governed by the Solicitor General of Alberta
- Introduce work programs for provincial offenders.
- Expand the use of electronic monitoring of dangerous offenders (GPS tracking).
- Identify grow-op and meth lab houses on the property title so buyers are aware
- Establish “treatment jails” and strengthen sentencing guidelines so individuals who are mentally ill or who suffer from addictions can serve their sentences in an environment that will treat their addictions and illnesses, and connect them with social agencies that will reduce recidivism
- Human Rights need protection: equality, freedom of religion, freedom of speech are important to Albertans
- Over the last 20 years, the Human Rights Commissions in Alberta have probably been the single worst offender of Rights: i.e. freedom of speech; politically correct activists have used them to punish religious and right-wing social commentators. Even when found not guilty, its expensive and time-consuming
- The commissions have proven that they can’t be trusted to do the job. We need to resolve these issues in real courts, with real judges and rules of evidence
- We’ll replace the Human Rights Commission with a new Human Rights Division of the Provincial Court of Alberta, which will adjudicate all human rights complaints
- We’ll ensure that translators and financial aid are available so that all Albertans have access to the process, but standards will be stricter