Albas takes aim at looters

Last summer, the Vancouver Sun reported that the RCMP suspect that arson could be behind as many as 29 different wildfires near communities such as:

  • Naramata
  • Okanagan Falls
  • Osoyoos
  • Oliver
  • Penticton
  • Summerland
  • Lake Country.

More concerning is that many of these fires were deliberately set in areas close to residential housing.

This not only threatens public safety, but frequently creates the need for an evacuation order.

While wildfires, flooding and other disasters often bring out the best in people as they work together to save lives, animals and homes, it can also bring out the worst.

There is a small segment of the population who use evacuation orders as an opportunity to engage in criminal actions such as looting, vandalizing and stealing from evacuated family's homes.

These despicable acts occurred last year to evacuated homeowners in communities such as Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

Looting is not unique to B.C.; it has also occurred after floods in Atlantic Canada and the tornado strike that occurred in Quebec.

The threat of looting creates anxiety and even resistance to evacuate a residence, which is not only a threat to public safety, it can also considerably increase the challenges for first responders.

In my view, those individuals who use disasters as an opportunity to abuse public trust and prey on people at their most vulnerable times must be held accountable.

That is why I have proposed a private members bill, Bill C-447, to take action against looting.

My bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code so that committing a crime and taking advantage of an evacuation order for those experiencing a natural disaster or emergency is to be considered an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes.

Ultimately this bill, if passed, would create new legal tools for judges when it comes to sentencing those found guilty of looting.

I believe it is important that Canadians experiencing the trauma of a natural disaster have the increased confidence that our criminal justice system has their back.

As my bill was only just tabled this week, it is unclear whether the Liberals, NDP and Green Party will support of it.

My question this week:

  • Are you supportive of my latest private member’s bill?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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