By PETER MILOBAR
MLA, Kamloops-North Thompson
NEARLY ANYWHERE YOU GO IN B.C., people are talking about the sudden and dramatic increase in violent crime in our communities.
It is something we are seeing in Vancouver, Kelowna, Prince George and everywhere in between. Business owners have spoken up about the impact on their livelihoods, residents have expressed concerns about no longer feeling safe in their communities, and numerous B.C. mayors have called on the province to take action.
Months have passed, and the NDP government has still done nothing to seriously address crime in B.C.
I have used this space before to talk about how crime is impacting us right here in Kamloops, where we have experienced a 45 per cent increase in violent crime severity in just the past few years.
It’s a deeply concerning statistic, and one that should be driving the NDP to act quickly but, instead, they have decided to avoid the issue and gaslight British Columbians about the realities of crime in B.C.
As the mayors pointed out in their letter to the Province this spring, much of the increased crime in our communities is perpetrated by a small group of chronic offenders who repeatedly offend, breach bail conditions and fail to appear in court.
Our outgoing RCMP Superintendent here in Kamloops, Syd Lecky, spoke about the challenges police are facing in dealing with these repeat offenders last week, saying “If you are released and waiting for court — and we are arresting people four, five, six times now on warrants — if that’s happening people are often times continuing to offend.”
Our police forces are doing their best to keep our communities safe, but they are limited in what they can do and under increased pressure to release people with as few conditions on them as possible.
This is a direct result of policy set by David Eby, who was the Attorney General until he resigned from his post this summer to run for NDP leadership.
During Eby’s tenure as Attorney General, B.C. saw 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.
Even when made aware of the troubling impacts of his direction, Eby refused to change course, and instead responded by commissioning a four-month independent study to simply look into the issue of repeat offenders.
That study started in May and the report was supposed to be delivered on Sept. 2, 2022, but last week it was announced that the report would be late by multiple weeks — further delaying action.
And while government continues to put off addressing the issue, every day that passes, an average of four people become the victims of violent assaults in Vancouver alone.
When it comes to the safety and security of British Columbians, a ‘let’s just wait and see’ approach is completely unacceptable. Governments must prioritize the safety of their citizens, and that means empowering police, and the courts, to take the necessary actions to protect our communities.
It’s appalling that NDP has let crime spiral out of control in B.C. over the last few years and it’s clear something needs to change, as soon as possible.
People deserve to feel safe in their neighbourhoods — but under Eby and the NDP’s watch, that is simply not the reality for far too many British Columbians.
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.