United Conservatives present plan to improve public safety
Alberta’s United Conservative Party has announced a Safe Streets Action Plan that would help keep Alberta families safe on their streets, in their cities, and in their communities
(May 9, 2023) — Today, the United Conservative Party announced their Safe Streets Action Plan—a comprehensive set of measures to restore safety to Alberta cities, communities, and public transit. It would substantially increase monitoring of dangerous offenders out on bail, keep hard drugs and guns off Alberta streets, and protect women and children facing abuse.
“Every day, Albertans wake up to news that someone in their community has been attacked…or even worse,” said United Conservative Leader Danielle Smith. “Enough is enough. We have to take action to ensure Albertans feel safe again. We will address the Liberal/NDP catch-and-release bail system and gang violence, crack down on the fentanyl and gun trade, and keep violent offenders and sexual offenders off our streets. Anything less is unacceptable.”
Violent crime in both Edmonton and Calgary has increased—fueled by drugs, illegal weapons, and the federal revolving-door bail system. The UCP will not allow this to continue. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals’ failed catch-and-release bail system is plaguing Alberta’s communities and Albertans cannot afford for it to be combined with a soft-on-crime NDP.
As part of the Safe Streets Action Plan, a re-elected UCP government would implement bracelet monitoring of dangerous offenders out on bail and deploy sheriffs to monitor them. They would add 100 more patrol officers on city streets, continue to deploy sheriffs alongside Calgary and Edmonton police officers to address public disorder, create new anti-fentanyl and illegal-gun trafficking teams, as well as increase funding for internet child exploitation and gang suppression units. A re-elected UCP government will make it easier for moms and dads to know the whereabouts of violent and sexual offenders, as well as make investments in women’s shelters and sexual assault counselling.
“Safe communities require more funding for robust and diverse police services, not their defunding,” said Mike Ellis, UCP candidate for Calgary-West. “While Rachel Notley’s NDP refuses to back down from their ‘defund the police’ rhetoric, United Conservatives will continue to support Alberta’s men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities.”
United Conservatives have already taken steps forward to improve safety for all Albertans, beginning with launching a human trafficking task force and providing funding to implement the resulting recommendations. The UCP government also changed the law to ensure that convicted sexual offenders and dangerous offenders cannot legally change their names and hide from their pasts in their communities. In addition, the UCP government deployed sheriffs to work alongside Edmonton and Calgary police services in the communities most in need of additional support, resulting in thousands of warrants executed and hundreds of charges laid. United Conservatives expanded powers of peace officers to tackle rural crime and recently allocated funding to create a fugitive apprehension unit with the Alberta Sheriffs.
“Albertans should be able to walk downtown and in their communities without having to look over their shoulders. This is non-negotiable,” concluded Smith. “We are putting criminals on notice that Albertans will no longer tolerate being harassed, frightened, or victimized. We will do whatever it takes for Albertans to feel safe on their streets, in their homes, in their communities, and riding public transit. Period.”
This announcement prioritizes safety within our downtown core – a top of mind issue for both residents and businesses. We are pleased to see the recognition of a number of our specific policy requests built into this announcement including sheriff deployment, shelter space and bail guidelines. Downtowns are the economic engines of municipalities, ensuring they are vibrant and safe is critical.”
- Alex Hryciw, Chair, Downtown Recovery Coalition
“We’re pleased with the investments into safety highlighted throughout this plan. As owners and developers in the downtown core, it’s imperative our employees, customers and potential investors see downtown as a viable option to work, visit or build their business. We’re particularly pleased with the support of women’s shelter space as well. We endeavour to support our most vulnerable neighbours and give back to those in need, this plan furthers our collective goals in ensuring women and girls are safe and have a pathway out of poverty.”
- Kelly Pope, Founder, Gather Co.
“Chinatown has started to see the positive results from the Healthy Streets Operation Centre, a collaboration between the City of Edmonton and Government of Alberta, and we believe this to be the necessary response to help restore safety and security given the violent nature of this crisis. We are not ashamed to say that “we need help” and the enhanced policing provided so far is having an impact but not fast enough. The measures announced today, some board some specific, all lead to the same desired result, Alberta and Edmonton and Chinatown have a safety and security crisis, an opioid crisis, a mental health crisis, and we all need help.”
- Holly Mah, past President Chinatown and Area Business Improvement Association
For further information, contact:
Safe Streets Action Plan
Crime rates and incidents of violence are extremely alarming, tragic, and getting worse. According to a recent Leger poll, 68 per cent of Albertans think the level of crime and violence in Alberta has gotten worse compared to pre-pandemic.
Edmonton police saw the highest number of violent crimes ever reported in a single year in 2022. Their data connects a rise in violence to changes made by the federal government to the bail system in 2019 under Bill C-75. In the past three years there have been more than 3,600 violent occurrences, including 2,200 assaults, by people who were out on bail in Edmonton.
In 2022, Edmonton’s violent crime rate (per 100,000) saw a 16.5 per cent spike, or an additional 201 incidents.
The average crime severity index in downtown Edmonton has increased 29 per cent to 116 in December 2022, up from 90 in July 2022. This has been driven primarily by an increase in serious criminal offences, in particular second-degree murder, assault causing bodily harm with a weapon, robbery, and aggravated assault.
In Edmonton, a person is about twice as likely to be victimized by a stranger at a transit centre compared with the city as a whole (70 per cent at LRT transit versus 36 per cent citywide).
In the last two years, 26 homicides were committed by criminals out on bail.
Property crime occurrences in Calgary nearly doubled, increasing 95 per cent to 463 in 2022, up from 238 in 2021.
Total calls for service to Calgary LRT stations increased to 9,317 in 2022, up 39 per cent from 6,706 in 2021.
Public-generated calls for service to LRT stations increased to 5,012 in 2022, up 20 per cent from 4,160 in 2021.
Officer-generated calls for service to LRT stations increased to 4,305, up 69 per cent from 2,546 in 2021.
In 2021, 2022, and 2023 (year to date) 23 of 45 individuals charged with homicide were on bail. Seven of those were bound by firearms prohibitions and two had recently completed parole conditions and were no longer bound.
The UCP’s Safe Streets Action Plan will enhance community safety, keep hard drugs and guns off the streets, and protect women and children facing abuse by:
Adding 100 police officers to Edmonton and Calgary to address chronic and worsening crime issues, particularly in the downtown cores and on transit.
Extending the downtown sheriff redeployment pilot program until at least the end of 2023, and longer if necessary.
Expanding the use of Alberta sheriffs in the 24/7 bail monitoring process.
Using Alberta’s provincial sheriffs in the monitoring of higher risk offenders released on bail to provide increased protection for Albertans.
Initiating an ankle bracelet program for violent and/or sexual offenders on bail.
Establishing a 24/7 electronic monitoring program to help protect Albertans against possible violent reoffenders who are out on bail.
Providing further options for courts to impose electronic monitoring as a condition of bail.
Creating specialized sheriff-led anti-fentanyl and anti-gun trafficking teams.
Increasing funding for ALERT for suppressing gang violence.
Initiatives we would look to expand under ALERT include:
- Provincial Cyber Crime Unit;
- Provincial DNA lab; and
- Increased monitoring of the gang connections to the skyrocketing rates of catalytic converter theft.
Informing Albertans that Clare’s Law enables them to learn whether their partner has any history of domestic assault or sex crimes.
Clare’s Law protocol allows Albertans to submit applications to obtain information regarding an intimate partner’s possible history of domestic and/or sexual violence victimizing partners or children.
This is an incredibly useful tool for at-risk Albertans. We will expand awareness of this program through a two-year advertising campaign.
Increasing support for the Internet and Child Exploitation (ICE) teams.
Funding an engagement team that could deliver education, presentations, and in-person door knocks on low-risk files.
Further investing in women’s shelters and sexual assault counselling/centres.
We will invest an additional $10 million (over four years) to support women’s shelters.
We will invest an additional $10 million (over four years) for sexual assault counselling.
This will build on past UCP crime-fighting measures, including:
Expanding powers for sheriffs to help combat crime in rural communities;
Deploying sheriffs to Edmonton and Calgary to help police in communities where additional policing is most needed;
Passing Clare’s Law, which allows people at risk of domestic violence to learn about their intimate partner’s criminal records;
Creating gang suppression units and firearms investigation units;
Passing legislation to prevent dangerous offenders and convicted sexual offenders from changing their names;
Creating a fugitive apprehension unit within the Alberta sheriffs;
Providing $21 million in funding to fight human trafficking; and
Announcing 100 more police officers to tackle crime.
Questions & Answers:
Calgary and Edmonton have seen rising levels of crime in their downtown cores and on public transit. How will today’s announcement help address this issue?
The most effective way to take back our streets is to get more boots on the ground and address the Liberal/NDP catch-and-release bail system. A re-elected UCP government will recruit and train 100 police officers in Calgary and Edmonton to address chronic and worsening crime issues. We will also extend the downtown Alberta Sheriff redeployment pilot program until the end of 2023, and beyond if necessary. The spending for this initiative was contained in Budget 2023.
A re-elected UCP government will also expand the use of Alberta Sheriffs in the 24/7 bail monitoring to monitor higher risk offenders released on bail to provide increased protection for Albertans.
As bail falls under federal jurisdiction, what can a UCP government do?
Canadians across the country are fed up with dangerous criminals out on bail going on to commit even more serious crimes. As part of today’s announcement, a re-elected UCP government will continue working with our provincial counterparts, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and others to demand immediate reform of the federal Liberal government’s catch-and-release, revolving-door bail system (C-75) that is plaguing our communities.
The UCP will also add funds to an electronic ankle monitoring program announced in Budget 2023, with Sheriffs helping enforce it so we can reduce the likelihood these offenders on bail reoffend.
Is bail really a major factor in today’s crime rates?
Even one crime committed by somebody out on bail is unacceptable. Unfortunately, the numbers are much higher than that.
In Calgary, 23 of 45 charged with homicide in 2021, 2022, and YTD 2023 (April 4), were on bail. Seven of those were bound by firearms prohibitions and two had recently completed parole conditions and were no longer bound.
In Edmonton in the last two years, 26 homicides were committed by criminals out on bail.
What will the UCP do specifically to address the proliferation of illegal guns and the fentanyl crisis?
In addition to giving ALERT more funding, a re-elected UCP government will create Alberta sheriff-led teams to combat gun smuggling and fentanyl trafficking at the border. This initiative will cost $6 million over two years.
How will a re-elected UCP government further empower ALERT?
Created by Ralph Klein’s Conservative government in 2006, ALERT has proven very effective at combatting organized and serious crime. As part of today’s announcement, a re-elected UCP government will enhance ALERT’s abilities with additional funding beyond what is in the budget and the federal funds recently announced.
We will also direct ALERT to monitor scrap metal dealers and the gang connections making catalytic converter thefts such a problem.
How will the Act help Albertans to identify dangerous offenders?
In 2019, the UCP government passed the Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence Act (better known as Clare’s Law), which allows Albertans to submit applications to obtain information regarding an intimate partner’s possible history of domestic and/or sexual violence victimizing partners or children. This is an incredibly useful tool for at-risk Albertans, and a re-elected UCP government will expand awareness of the program through a two-year, $3-million advertising campaign.
What will the UCP do to better protect children?
Online child sexual exploitation is one of the most dangerous and disturbing public safety issues we face in Canada. We will increase support for the Internet and Child Exploitation (ICE) ($4 million over four years).
Irfan Sabir, Alberta NDP Justice Critic and candidate for Calgary-Bhullar-McCall, made the following statement in response to the UCP’s comments on public safety:
“Danielle Smith and the UCP have failed on public safety for four years, and Albertans can see that failure on the streets of our downtown cores, and in the gun violence that many communities are enduring.
“UCP cuts to affordable housing, emergency shelters and rental support have left more Albertans on the streets in desperation than ever before.
“The UCP took funding for police away from municipalities in 2019, withheld resources from victims of crime, and refused to fully fund women’s shelters. Albertans should have zero confidence in Daniell Smith’s last-minute pre-election reversals. Today’s very thin announcement will not paper over four years of failure on public safety by the UCP.
“An Alberta NDP government will put 150 new police officers on the streets, teamed up with community support workers. We will also re-invest in affordable housing so that Albertans sleeping on the streets and transit stations have somewhere else to go.”