By PETER MILOBAR
MLA, Kamloops-North Thompson
WHEN DAVID EBY decided to run for premier, his colleague Murray Rankin was installed as Acting Attorney General.
If you thought Eby wasn’t taking the issue of public safety seriously, you won’t believe what Rankin had the gall to say on Twitter recently. He dismissed Opposition concerns about a violent assault on a mom and toddler in Vancouver’s Chinatown as “anecdotal rhetoric.” He quickly deleted his tweet, but the damage was done.
It seems Rankin, Eby and the NDP just aren’t taking this issue as seriously as the rest of us are — and it provides little assurance this government will do anything to fix its ‘catch and release’ justice system.
While Rankin and Eby prefer to keep their heads in the sand, the latest figures released by Statistics Canada this week clearly show that violent crime in B.C. is getting worse.
Our province’s violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) has risen by 30 per cent under Eby’s tenure as Attorney General. It went up nearly five per cent between 2020 and 2021.
Cities like Kelowna (14 per cent) and Victoria (12 per cent) saw double digit increases in violent crime severity. British Columbia saw 10,860 major assaults last year, and Victoria saw a 49 per cent increase in sexual assaults, which is appalling.
The figures for Kamloops were also startling. Under David Eby’s five-year reign as Attorney General, violent crime severity is up a whopping 45 per cent — rising eight per cent in the last year alone.
I have heard from numerous individuals, families and business owners who say they simply don’t feel as safe as they once did in some parts of the city. We even saw the McDonald’s restaurant downtown shut its doors for good because of the increasing crime and disorder, and its impact on their staff and operations.
The fact is, many of the people doing the assaulting, vandalizing, robbing and more are repeat offenders. They are arrested and let back onto the streets with no real consequences, only to commit further crimes.
Under David Eby and the NDP, B.C. has seen a 75 per cent increase in the rate of no-charge assessments and a 26 per cent decrease in the number of accused being approved to go to court.
The other part of the problem is the NDP’s delays in implementing complex care housing, which would offer some stability and the much-needed mental health and addiction supports that could help turn people’s lives around.
British Columbians deserve to feel safe once again in their communities. Legislators like Murray Rankin cannot go around saying that the random, violent assaults people are experiencing are mere anecdotes. This is the reality, every day in this province — four per day in Vancouver alone— and it has to stop.
Peter Milobar was elected MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson in May 2017, and re-elected in October 2020. He is the Official Opposition Critic for Finance. He previously served as critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and the Official Opposition House Leader.