Legal use of force called for in Alberta

Alberta’s United Conservative Party is proposing recommendations it hopes will reduce rural crime in the province.

One of those includes a push to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to support the use of force as self-defence.

The opposition party said in a report released last week that sections 34 and 35 of the Criminal Code should be reformed to ensure the use of force as self-defence precludes the prosecution of a victim of crime.

If someone uses force as self-defence, according to the UCP, courts should consider the response time of police, whether the offender failed to leave the premises once confronted, the number of people committing the crime and if they appeared intoxicated, and whether the criminal was armed or exhibited threatening behaviour.

Debate over the use of force when defending property swirled late last year when Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley was found not guilty of shooting Colten Boushie, a young Indigenous man, who drove onto his property.

As well, charges were dropped against rural Okotoks, Alta., homeowner Eddie Maurice, who was accused of shooting a trespasser on his property late last year.

“You have to ask yourself why Mr. Maurice was in the situation that he was in, that caused him to take up force against an offender that was on his property,” Mike Ellis, solicitor general critic with the UCP, said during a news conference last week.

Currently, the law states that use of force is justifiable only if someone has been attacked and if they didn’t provoke the attack. If attacked, the victim can retaliate with force as long as it isn’t more than necessary and they can’t cause severe harm or death of the other person.

Many farmers have called on this law to be changed so they can protect their property with whatever means necessary. As well, they have said criminals should face harsher sentences.

The entire province of Alberta, both urban and rural, has seen about a 35 percent spike in property crime from 2011 to 2016, according to Statistics Canada.

Saskatchewan has seen an increase of about four percent and Manitoba has experienced about a 10 percent increase.

The UCP is also recommending creating a provincially regulated system to allow municipalities to work with one another.

As well, the party would like to see the collection of more data on repeat offenders, the creation of a high-risk offender unit, the introduction of a new bill that would require yearly statistics on Alberta crime, and the hiring of more prosecutors to deal with backlogs.

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  • Jan

    The farmer near Okotoks did not use force against the intruders. He fired a warning shot that ricocheted.

  • Monkeeworks

    Canadians are losing the right to protect themselves, their families and their property. Bit by bit the Federal Government is eating away at what is left of self protection. Bill C-71 is an excellent example. This government wants complete control over peoples lives and how to protect them. They are saying we have no right to protect ourselves in any emergency.
    ex. Just how hard do I have to hit this guy that is holding a knife at my belly so I don’t get charged with excessive force and hurting this guy? The true answer is any force at all that would require the attacker to back off is excessive. Luckily public protests have forced the law to back down on some charges as mentioned in the article.
    Some anti gun activists cite examples in the U.S. as to why we should not have any guns. Toronto is a good example, as is Surrey in BC, of why we need to adopt some of the U.S. freedoms. Children getting shot in cross fire is totally unacceptable.

    • Barry Holland

      You are very correct that there are certain vocal and powerful segments of our society who would love to see us all disarmed. They will use any transgression by an upstanding citizen to bolster their argument. The law allows the private person to use force tot he same extent as police. If we use force in the same way we are not going to get charged or convicted of any crime.

  • bufford54

    The answer is simple, “you loot, we shoot”!

    • Barry Holland

      Unfortunately good people like you are easy pickings for the Crown Prosecutors. With just a little better understanding of the law and the implications on how to go about dealing with the criminals you get to defend your property and stay out of jail …

    • Phoenix Loiselle


  • Barry Holland

    The reporter – Mr. Simes, continues to propagate false information. No where does it say in CCC section 34 or 35 that the person either defending themselves against an assault or their property can’t use lethal force. The law says that the circumstances dictate and the level of force used has to be reasonable looking at the entirety of the situation. In section 34 there is a list of things to be considered. If you really want the straight goods pick up a copy of No More Mr. Nice-guy. It’s a guide to defending yourself, family and property in Canada.

  • John Fefchak

    Criminal Code needs to be changed to protect rural residents & property.
    Canada’s arcane and ‘contradictory’ self-defense laws need to be changed to the benefit
    of those who are being violated by crime activities,rather than being charged by police, when
    defending their home, property and family from unwelcome intruders.

    When government, Prime ministers Harper office said it intends to re-introduce legislation to re-define self-defence, since the criminal code was written in 1892.

    Otherwise and until appropriate changes are legislated, the only other solution might be,
    is to put all your valuables out on the driveway , for the taking, if you intend to be away from
    your home for a lengthy period of time.

    At least, then, you won’t be charged by the police, your home might be saved from being
    trashed and Crown prosecutors will not be able to allege that you didn’t meet the definition
    of citizen’s arrest or that you were too aggressive and exceeded your dominance in home


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