RCMP urge safety, prevention first amid frustration about rural crime

By Jennifer Graham

THE CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA -The lawyer for a family of an aboriginal man fatally shot on a farm says he’s “disgusted” by a resolution on rural crime passed at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities convention.

The resolution, which passed by 93 per cent Tuesday, calls on the association to lobby the federal government to expand the rights and justification for people to defend themselves, persons under their care and their property.

It says rural crime has increased and people don’t have sufficient rights to protect themselves and property.

“What you’re asking the government of Canada to do is to weigh property rights versus a human life, that’s what it comes down to,”

said Chris Murphy, who represents Colten Boushie’s family.

“You’d be asking the Canadian government to permit, let’s just use a rural person, a farmer, to use force against a person who’s committing a property crime.”

Murphy says the Criminal Code already allows people to defend themselves with force if they or their family are threatened.

“So there’s no amendment that has to be made to the Criminal Code in relation to self-defence,” he said.

“What SARM was asking for … was to be able to essentially defend your property rights by using force. My position clearly is that is not the law in Canada, it never has been the law in Canada and it never should be the law in Canada.”

Murphy says there’s no escaping the connection between Boushie’s shooting last August and the resolution.

Boushie was shot and killed Aug. 9 while riding in an SUV that went onto a farm near Biggar, Sask.

Another person in the SUV has said they were heading home to the Red Pheasant First Nation after an afternoon of swimming when they got a flat tire and sought help.

The farm owner, Gerald Stanley, is charged with second-degree murder. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for early April.

According to information RCMP used to obtain a search warrant of the farm, Stanley’s son called police to report that five people drove into his parent’s farmyard and were trying to steal vehicles.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations also makes a link between Boushie’s shooting and the resolution.

FSIN vice-chief Kim Jonathan says she’s “shocked and disgusted at the violent intentions” behind the resolution.

“It’s going to lead to more bloodshed,” Jonathan said Wednesday.

“It’s going to lead to a huge opening for further harm to come to people and society ought to be concerned about this.”

But SARM President Ray Orb says the resolution is not about supporting violence.

“We realize though that there is a line where people can’t take it too far and injure people that unintentionally, for example, that come onto their property. But at the same time, I think we have to make sure that everybody in the province respects the landowner rights in rural Saskatchewan,” said Orb.

Orb says the association has been working with RCMP to find a solution to better protect rural residents.

Saskatchewan RCMP won’t comment on the resolution.

In an email to media, RCMP urged property owners to consider prevention and safety first by securing property with strong locks and watching out for themselves and their neighbours. Police also said people should not attempt to confront or pursue suspects.

Justice Minister Gord Wyant says the resolution demonstrates the frustration in rural Saskatchewan about rural crime.

“I don’t think that the resolution was intended to put out that people want to raise arms against people that come onto their properties,” Wyant said Wednesday.

“I think it was just simply an expression of their frustration to government that government needs to do something, to work with law enforcement and other community partners to help solve the problems.”

Wyant said he would also talk with SARM and the FSIN leadership.

“Because I think this is really about building relationships and about kind of bringing the temperature down on the issue.”

 

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