Rural property owners, Eddie and Jessica Maurice, joined Foothills MP, John Barlow, at the Okotoks RCMP detachment Monday morning to speak out on rural crime.

Barlow says rural residents in Okotoks and surrounding communities are adamant the Federal Government needs better strategies in place to reduce rural crime.

"Our farmers, our ranchers and our rural families do not feel safe in their communities. Rural residents are afraid, and they're angry because our justice system has become a revolving door. The Federal Government has done nothing to respond to this crisis," he said.

Barlow says rural crime is the top issue he hears about from constituents in the riding, and the Rural Crime Task Force developed earlier this year has made an impact, but there's more that needs to be done to increase the safety of rural residents.

Eddie Maurice, who was charged with careless use of a firearm, pointing a firearm, and aggravated assault after firing warning shots at alleged thieves on his property back in February, says his experience has had a significant impact on his view regarding rural crime.

"My experiences from the initial arrival of the officers to my home to arrest me, through the court process, and the fight to return all my seized firearms and my license has really opened my eyes to the problems in our justice system. I was treated like a criminal, instead of a victim, and that needs to stop," said Maurice, as he pointed out the frosted window of the jail cell he was held in after his arrest.

Eddie and his wife Jessica made their way to Ottawa back in October to share their story with the standing committee on public safety, and say they feel it is their obligation to stand up for rural residents who no longer feel safe in their homes.

Jessica Maurice says the Federal Government doesn't seem to see the big picture when it comes to rural crime, gun control and the justice system.

"They sure aren't helping to make us feel safer. Someone needs to get tough on crime. We need a government who is going to target the real criminals, not penalize legal firearms owners. We need these changes, and we need them now," she said.

Barlow adds the Conservative Party has unveiled a comprehensive plan for a safer Canada, with the focus of protecting Canadians and cracking down on crime in communities.

The plan will also work toward getting illegal guns out of communities, and put criminals behind bars.

 

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