The leader of the federal Conservative party was in Brampton last week for a roundtable discussion with councillors and community stakeholders about ways to address growing gang and gun violence in the GTA.
The Nov. 8 meeting was attended by returning Wards 2 and 6 Coun. Michael Palleschi and departing Wards 7 and 8 Coun. Gael Miles. Miles is set to retire; her seat will be filled by newly-elected Coun. Charmaine Williams on Dec. 3.
The roundtable was also attended by Conservative Party deputy leader and MP in neighbouring Milton, Lisa Raitt, as well as public safety shadow minister Pierre Paul-Hus.
“Mainly, it was all about getting tough on guns and gang,” said Miles. “I think what the leader of the Conservative Party is saying is that victims should have more rights than offenders, and they are concerned about the fact the pendulum seems to have swung back to where the offender actually has more rights than the victims of crime.”
Like nearby Toronto, Brampton has seen in an uptick in shootings and violent crimes over the past year with 23 homicides recorded in Peel Region so far in 2018.
Scheer gave a public address following the meeting, where he outlined his party’s plan to address violent crime should they manage to unseat the incumbent Justin Trudeau Liberals next fall.
“A Conservative government will always stand up for victims of crime and make sure that dangerous offenders are held accountable for their actions,” said Scheer. “Canadians should feel safe where they live, no matter what part of the country they call home.”
“This morning (in Brampton), I spoke with community and victim rights organizations about how gang crime has affected their neighbourhoods. The stories I heard from them today are very similar to those I’ve heard in other parts of the country. People are feeling less safe in their communities and they’re losing faith that their government is willing to address it,” he added.
Scheer then outlined three of five proposed pillars of a platform aimed at mitigating the problem.
First up, the Conservatives are proposing ending automatic bail for repeat gang activity offenders, instead of putting the onus on the accused to make a case for why they should be granted bail.
Second, Scheer proposed “enshrining” a list of known criminal organizations in the criminal code, much like the government currently does for known terrorist organizations. He also added a conservative government would revoke parole from anyone who chooses to associate with any group identified on the “gang list.”
“Everyone knows that the Hells Angels or MS-13 are dangerous, violent gangs. Yet prosecutors have to prove this in court each time they prosecute a gang offence. This makes absolutely no sense and only wastes valuable and limited police resources,” he said.
The Conservatives are also proposing mandatory minimum sentences for anyone instructing another person to commit an offence on behalf of a gang.
“In the coming weeks, I will be announcing two more policy pillars in my plan for a safer Canada,” added Scheer.