• Arnold Viersen, M.P.

Protecting Rural Canadians Means Standing up for Mounties

VIERSEN: Should the safety of your family be compromised so Justin Trudeau can advance his vaccine mandate? Rural communities in Peace River – Westlock face some of the highest crime rates in Canada. The latest statistics show that crime rates in prairie rural areas are 36% to 42% higher than in urban areas. When I surveyed our community a few years ago, 50% of you had been a victim of crime within the previous two years and 80% had a neighbour who had been a victim of crime in the previous two years. Sadly, this isn't new.

Over the past few years my colleagues and I launched a rural crime task force and prepared a report for federal and provincial governments with concrete proposals. We found that remote areas are harder to police and harder still to protect. This is in large part due to the staffing shortages experienced by the RCMP due to a lack of resources leading to response times delayed by hours – sometimes days.

If this wasn’t bad enough, now the Liberals are about to put your safety even more at risk with their vaccine mandates that extend to the RCMP. As of October 29, members of the RCMP will have to provide their vaccination status. Those who are not vaccinated by November 22 will be put on unpaid leave. While the union representing members of the RCMP says it supports a Mountie's 'right' to refuse vaccination, this will be of little help to rural communities.

No Canadian should ever be threatened with unpaid leave or termination due to their vaccine status. While I don’t know the reason behind each Mountie who does not want to receive a vaccine, I do know that each Mountie I have met has been dedicated to serving their community and keeping people safe. They are honourable, hardworking and loyal Canadians.

When it comes to your safety, mandating the RCMP to go on unpaid leave if they are not vaccinated is not going to improve the situation on rural crime. Many detachments are already short-staffed. Recently, I heard of a detachment that had room for 12 members but only had 7 members. Placing Mounties on unpaid leave will only exacerbate the problem of rural crime.

I believe vaccines are one of the most important tools we have to fight Covid-19. I encourage everyone who wants to get vaccinated to do so at their earliest convenience. The vaccines have helped reduce hospitalizations and deaths.

However, as a Member of Parliament representing a rural area, I am also committed to fighting rural crime and ensuring my constituents have access to police and the rule of law. The reduction of just 1 or 2 people per RCMP detachment may mean the difference of having a member on duty or not during certain parts of the week. For someone dealing with a home invasion or a medical emergency, the delay of help by hours – or days – can be disastrous.

Justin Trudeau is not focused on making Canada safer from Covid-19 or rural crime. His focus is on dividing Canadians purely for political purposes so he can continue implementing his agenda. We know preventing the spread of Covid-19 can’t just rely on vaccines. We know that fully vaccinated people get Covid-19 and spread it to others. However, experts have been clear that in addition to vaccinating as many people as possible, we also need to roll out rapid testing as broadly as possible. Canadian doctors have called the inclusion of rapid testing a “game-changer” that could “absolutely help reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.”

If Justin Trudeau truly wanted to prevent the spread of Covid-19, he would be using all the tools at his disposal including rapid testing instead of mandating that every public servant, including Mounties, receive a vaccine or lose their job. Rapid testing would ensure that every Mountie would be able to continue serving the public in a safe way.

In fact, a number of police services, including the Edmonton Police and Ottawa Police, have included rapid testing as an alternative to mandatory vaccines. For example, the Ottawa Police’s testing policy requires unvaccinated members undergo rapid COVID-19 tests every 72 hours. Over the past 18 months, only 2 police officers have contracted COVID-19 in the work environment and not a single officer has transmitted the virus to the public while on duty.

Finally, if there was any doubt of the vicious intentions of the Liberal government to divide Canadians and punish those who don’t ‘think’ the same way they do, it was confirmed by the Minister of Labour. Last weekend, a Trudeau Minister declared that anyone who lost their job as a result of refusing a vaccine would not receive EI. Imagine a Mountie, who has spent 25 years protecting her community and sacrificing time from her family, being told that she not only has lost her job, but also won’t even be able to receive support to feed her family just because she had not received a vaccine.

My colleague, MP Glen Motz – a former police officer – has written: “Politicizing vaccines is a dangerous and irresponsible scare tactic that may instead push people away from vaccines. Now is not the time to pit Canadians against each other as fear and division will not help get us past this pandemic.”

Instead of working to fight rural crime, keeping Canadians safe and increasing confidence in vaccines, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals remain committed to demonizing a segment of Canadians for their political purposes.

The Conservative Party is the only party that will stand up for Mounties and all Canadians regardless of their vaccine status. We will continue to prioritize reducing rural crime, protecting rural communities, and ensuring officers have the resources they need.



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