It appears the province is getting serious about cracking down on crime.
This isn’t to say Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party government have been turning a blind eye or carelessly laughing off the issue until now, but – for one reason or another – the premier saw fit recently to call for the formation of a caucus committee on crime reduction tasked to do just what its name suggests – look for ways to reduce crime.
More recent data is unavailable, but – according to Statistics Canada – 144,047 crimes including traffic violations – were reported in 2015. Comparatively, this is slightly higher than Manitoba which saw 113,643 crimes reported and much lower than Alberta and B.C., which reported 367,521 and 412,078 crimes respectively. Throughout Canada that year, the number of reported offences was 2,111,021. The committee, which is in the midst of a 10-community tour to all corners of the province, made a stop in Meadow Lake Monday (Jan. 23) at which time meetings were held with MLA Jeremy Harrison, representatives from the RCMP and other stakeholders throughout the municipality to discuss this trend.
While full details of what was discussed that day have yet to be made public, committee chair Herb Cox did indicate the underlying cause of most crime in Saskatchewan is drugs. This barely comes as a surprise, as it seems almost daily the RCMP conducts a drug bust or drug-related investigation, whether it’s here, in another Northwest community or somewhere else in Saskatchewan.
In fact, the last week alone saw a routine traffic stop in Ile-a-la Crosse lead to the seizure of cash and cocaine, with the alleged perpetrator charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. Meanwhile, various drug paraphernalia, cash and crack cocaine were seized at a residence in Buffalo Narrows recently, resulting in four people – including a minor – being charged with several drug-related offences.
It’s a sad state of affairs when so many people, especially at a young age, find themselves in trouble with the law because of drugs. It’s about time the government became more actively involved in finding solutions, however, and hopefully they will be solutions that work. It’s easy to put more police on the street, to make more arrests and to dish out harsher sentences, but it’s a lot more difficult to overcome the demon known as addiction. Surely the committee will take this into account when it ultimately files its report and the government, in turn, will react accordingly by providing more opportunities for the help these people need.
It’s one thing to treat the symptoms, but quite another to treat the problem itself.