Politics

Scheer promises more money for police, youth gang prevention

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer released what he calls the third "pillar" of his plan to enhance public safety today, promising more money for police equipment and youth gang prevention.

Conservative leader outlines third 'pillar' of plan to tackle gun and gang violence

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he wants to spend more money on police resources and youth gang prevention. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer released what he calls the third "pillar" of his plan to enhance public safety today, promising more money for police equipment and youth gang prevention.​

Scheer said that, if his Conservatives win the 2019 general election, he would work with provinces and territories to put more police officers on the streets and take steps to reduce recidivism rates.

"People should not have to worry about violence in their own neighbourhoods, but sadly that is a reality that more and more Canadians face," he said during an event in Winnipeg Monday.

Scheer's plan would:

  • Create a Police Infrastructure Grant program to help smaller municipal police forces upgrade or buy new equipment and access new technologies.
  • Cost-share new anti-gang law enforcement initiatives with provinces and territories.
  • Develop better information sharing to track guns used in crime and to solve gun crimes, and require all guns seized in relation to crimes be added to appropriate databases.
  • Speed up and strengthen background checks for new gun licence applicants.
  • Increase funding for the Youth Gang Prevention Fund by 25 per cent to support counselling, skills development and other programs.
  • Conduct an audit of all correctional programs and make necessary reforms to ensure job and skills-training programs are working to ensure inmates are ready to rejoin society when they're released.

Scheer already has announced a Conservative plan to crack down on gangs and reduce gun violence. He said the party will also announce a "separate and focused" plan to address drugs and addiction well before the next election.

A detailed breakdown of the proposed funding will be released closer to next year's election, said a Conservative spokesperson.

Last month, Statistics Canada reported that the national homicide rate last year was the highest it has been in a decade because of a spike in gang-related violence and shootings.

Hike in homicide rate

The agency said there were 660 reported homicides in Canada last year, an increase of nearly eight per cent over 2016 and the highest homicide rate since 2009.

Gang-related homicides committed with firearms represented 12 per cent of all homicides in 2015; that figure had increased to 21 per cent by 2017.

The Liberal government announced last month it will spend $86 million to boost efforts to block smuggled guns at the border and curb gun violence.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Bill Blair, the minister of border security and organized crime reduction, announced that $51.5 million will be spent over five years for the Canada Border Services Agency to build an all-weather detector dog training facility, deploy more sniffer dog teams and expand X-ray technology at postal centres and air cargo facilities.

Another $34.5 million will go to the RCMP to enhance investigations, training, inspections, technology and intelligence.

'Totally uncosted' promises 

Goodale's spokesman Scott Bardsley said Scheer's "totally uncosted promises" largely duplicate the intent of the $327 million the federal government has announced for prevention and enforcement initiatives, and to combat gun smuggling.

"The Conservatives' record tells a different story. Over their last four years in government, the Harper Conservatives cut over half a billion dollars from the RCMP's budget, denying them many necessary tools and resources needed to combat organized crime," he said.

"They even cut money the Police Officer Recruitment Fund, disproportionately impacting rural and northern communities' access to officers."

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