Kenny made that statement during a speech to the Rotary Club of Olds at the Ramada Inn March 1.
“For me, priority number 1 – the overall strategic goal of our future government – would be reigniting Alberta’s economy,” he said.
“But in terms of public services, priority number 1 is public safety. Because only the government can do that – or at least is supposed to do that — in an orderly, law-based society.”
Mayor Mike Muzychka raised the issue, asking Kenney what his government would do regarding crime if it takes power in Alberta.
Kenney said because the UCP is essentially a new party – a blending of the Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose Party – it does not yet have any formal policies on issues.
He said party policies will be released in the spring of 2019 in the run-up to the provincial election.
That said, Kenney did advance some ideas on how to cut crime.
He said one move would be to fill vacancies for judges at the provincial level and to “aggressively” lobby the federal government to appoint more federal Queen’s Bench judges. In fact, he’d like to see the number of Queen’s Bench judge positions in Alberta expanded.
He also called for more Crown prosecutors at both the provincial court level and the Queen’s Bench level.
He did not say how his government would pay for all those new positions.
Kenney said a UCP government would also “aggressively ask the federal government to reconsider its repeal of those mandatory minimum sentences; the laws that stopped conditional sentences for repeat offenders.”
“I could go on and on,” he said. “There are about 30 laws that we passed that are being repealed by the current federal government. That’s part of what’s creating the revolving door (of criminals charged and released from custody).
“It’s very frustrating for the police — and prosecutors — to arrest these guys and because of small L liberal bail or parole or conditional sentencing or early release, they’re back on the street, sometimes in days or weeks or months,” Kenney said.
Kenney said it’s his understanding that several municipalities have decided to fund supplementary RCMP positions.
However, he said, “the RCMP is not delivering the personnel. There seems to be a shortage of resources at Depot and we need to fix those problems in the RCMP.”
Kenney also said several municipalities have asked his party to look at possibly revising the formula for funding RCMP positions.
“We haven’t taken a position on that, but we’re certainly open to that discussion,” he said.
Once again, Kenney did not say how his government would pay for those additional policing positions or a possible change in the funding formula.
Kenney expressed sympathy with the concern and frustration that local residents have regarding crime.
“In some MDs and counties in Alberta there’s been a tripling or quadrupling of property crimes in the last two years,” Kenney said.
“As you know, thefts have become B & Es, and break and enters have become home invasions, and home invasions are becoming increasingly violent.
“We all know that some people are multiple victims. Some farmers have been robbed three or four times in a year.
“And we also know that unfortunately, there are some people who now feel that with response times from police – sometimes taking over an hour in rural communities – that they are now taking the law into their own hands and none of us want to see that,” he said.
“I believe the first responsibility of government is the protection of public safety – of life and property,” Kenney said, but then added a caveat.
“When you’re in government, you have to make choices, you have to set priorities. Not everything can be a priority.”
“In terms of public services, priority number 1 is public safety. Because only the government can do that – or at least is supposed to do that — in an orderly, law-based society.”
UNITED CONSERVATIVE PARTY