Federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale says the public meetings Saskatchewan’s 87 RCMP detachments are holding will help open lines of communication.
Speaking to reporters in Regina March 9, the minister said the fact that people at some of the first meetings have said they would defend their property any way they can is concerning.
“Obviously, people should not contemplate taking the law into their own hands,” he said. “That is a potentially very dangerous attitude. But the fact that some of that attitude exists, I think reflects the fact that there hasn’t been much of a dialogue before.”
The RCMP announced it would hold the townhall style meetings through March and April to discuss local policing priorities and public safety planning.
One of the first meetings was held at Biggar, near where Colten Boushie was shot and killed on Gerald Stanley’s farm in August 2016. Stanley was recently found not guilty of second degree murder.
Reports from that meeting and another in Perdue indicate concern about RCMP response time and questions of how far people can go to defend their property and themselves.
Some have said they would do whatever it takes to keep their families and property safe.
The debate has also ignited in Alberta where a landowner near Okotoks faces charges after a shooting on his property.
Goodale said the problems won’t go away with one or two meetings but being candid is important.
“If we’re going to build a greater sense of safety and security and trust and confidence in the process and in the system then people have to have talked to each other,” he said.
Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe said the conversations happening since Boushie’s death and the trial verdict are difficult, but necessary.
“I commend the RCMP for reaching out to communities,” he said.
He said the talk from members of the public about taking matters into their own hands is why law enforcement should be holding meetings.
And, he said perhaps this will open up greater conversations around the root issues of mental health and addictions that can lead to crime.