An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
OKANAGAN-SIMILKAMEEN-NICOLA MP DAN ALBAS is shopping around for support of a private member’s bill he hopes will deter anyone tempted to take advantage of wildfire evacuees by looting their homes while they’re gone.
There are few more cowardly, despicable characters than those who profit from the misfortune of others by robbing them blind. Imagine being forced out of your home for days or even weeks and returning only to find it’s been robbed or vandalized.
Albas wants to do something about that with stiffer penalties. He says his bill will create “new legal tools” for judges by defining looting after fires and flood as an aggravating circumstance in sentencing under the Criminal Code.
His Bill C-447, if adopted, would provide a greater sense of security for those forced to leave their homes when they’re threatened by a natural disaster. As Albas says, people in that situation are already under a great deal of stress and should be able to feel assured that their homes are secure.
Knowing there’s a chance of looting, homeowners might be reluctant to leave, putting themselves at risk.
The bill is a bit fuzzy in that it doesn’t include mandatory sentencing guidelines but previous cases suggest there’s plenty of room for improvement.
With a federal election on the horizon and the House adjourned, the bill is unlikely to receive royal assent any time soon, and private member’s bills don’t have a sterling record of success at the best of times but some City councils have now joined the cause.
This is one of those bills that shouldn’t depend on party politics. Everyone surely can agree that the awful leeches who prey on others at their most vulnerable moments deserve to be hammered hard by the courts.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.