Airdrie-Banff Member of Parliament Blake Richards said that the million dollars that Ottawa has given to Airdrie to pro-actively combat gang and gun violence in the city is, 'a small piece of the puzzle.'
Though the Conservative Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs said that the funding is a starting point, he believes it is not enough to address a systemic problem, which he said lies with repeat offenders.
"They [the Liberal government] have to deal with the violence problem with the repeat offenders; with the drug problem. If they don't do all those things, they will go nowhere towards solving the problem," Richards said. "If we look at the situation with gun violence and gang violence in our country, it's primarily repeat offenders."
While the million dollars from Ottawa to Airdrie comes as part of the Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF), Airdrie's municipal politicians and other city officials stressed that the funding is going to pro-actively support community initiatives that will address at-risk youth. Mayor Peter Brown underlined this several times, stating that the funding would be used to prevent gang violence from flaring up in Airdrie.
"We're using the Building Safer Community fund to develop community education training to address bullying and support for vulnerable youth in our schools and public spaces and throughout our community. This includes a collaborative approach to much-needed local wrap-around initiatives to support youth already at risk of becoming involved in criminal activity."
Mayor Brown was joined by the MP for Calgary Skyview, George Chahal on Monday afternoon for the announcement. During his speech, MP Chahal lauded the passing of Bill C-21 as part of a larger national strategy on gun violence.
"Along with the historic legislation we've introduced, we are providing funding directly to municipalities and indigenous communities, mainly through a $250 million program called the Building Safer Communities Fund," he said. "Because we know that investments in prevention work. The government stands firm, in its conviction that any solution to gun and gang violence must include prevention and intervention efforts."
However, conservatives, including Richards have been vehemently critical of Bill C-21. In the fall of 2023, Richards along with others signed a petition in Parliament stating their opposition. Among other things, the petition stated that the legislation did little to address what conservatives said is the root cause of gun violence - illegally obtained firearms.
"Taking legal firearms, obtained after a strict vetting process will not stop the importation of illegal guns, typically used by gangs to commit crimes; and The Trudeau Liberal government has refused to replace bail with jail for violent offenders, including those committing crimes with illegally obtained guns," the petition read in part.
When asked how a conservative government might tackle gang and gun violence, Richards that the answer is simple.
"When you've got people who repeatedly commit crimes, they belong in jail. That's exactly what we would do. It would be jail and not bail for repeat violent offenders," he said. "If you want the best way to deal with gang violence and violent behaviour by repeat offenders - that's the way it needs to be addressed."
Previously presented statistics by Airdrie RCMP showed that in 2022, the majority of the crimes in Airdries dealt with fraud and that Airdrie's Crime Severity Index was still below other municipalities in the area.
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