By TODD STONE
MLA, Kamloops-South Thompson
FOR SEVERAL MONTHS, David Eby has fended off opposition questions about repeat criminal offenders by telling us to patiently wait for the report he commissioned to look into the matter. It was finally released a few weeks ago — so where is Eby? Why hasn’t he said a word about it?
Perhaps his silence is due to the fact this report has confirmed what we already knew to be true — that crime levels have spiralled out of control under his watch.
This former attorney general’s catch-and-release justice system isn’t working for anyone, and nothing is being done to improve the situation and make people feel safer in their communities.
We didn’t need this NDP report to tell us that crime and disorder has been getting worse in British Columbia.
Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index already showed violent crimes increased 30 per cent in B.C. during David Eby’s tenure as attorney general. At the same time, 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.
It’s just a constant revolving door of justice with offenders arrested, released, and then re-arrested over and over again.
Just as he’s had nothing to say about his personally-commissioned report on prolific offenders, Eby has had nothing to say about the rise in violent crime in this province. This is unacceptable not only as the former minister responsible, but also as one of the contenders for the premier’s job.
With a list of failures a mile long — from crime to housing to homelessness to affordability — he certainly isn’t making the best case for why he deserves to be promoted to premier.
As Eby stays silent, the crime and social chaos on our streets continue. It seems we can’t go a day without hearing about random assaults and violent attacks in communities across B.C.
Over the Thanksgiving long weekend in Vancouver alone, police had to contend with nearly 1,500 calls including 36 assaults, 31 weapons calls, hundreds of property offences — even a man shot in the chest with a crossbow.
The prolific offenders report that was prepared for Eby paints a dire picture. From page 56: “stakeholders have described the street homelessness problem in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) as the worst it has ever been. An outreach worker we spoke to described the DTES as ‘completely lawless.’”
Where is the compassion for the victims of these crimes? And for the front-line police officers and other emergency responders who are completely burned out and stressed as they try to keep up?
It is also a reality that many of these offenders require mental health and treatment options before they are released. So where are those supports? Eby’s own prolific offenders report says he and his government have fallen short.
From page 55: “we were told that large numbers of formerly homeless people with high risks/high needs have been housed, some in former hotels, but with completely insufficient staff and support,” and “another community noted they had a new facility built three years ago that was supposed to come with mental health and substance use support staff, but the operator has not provided them.”
What’s clear is that David Eby’s catch-and-release justice system is harming our people and communities. But when it comes to taking accountability for his failures and providing citizens with the reassurance that change is coming, Eby remains shockingly silent.
Todd Stone was elected MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson in 2013, 2017, and again in 2020. He currently serves as the Official Opposition House Leader as well as the Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery, Trade and Innovation.