MP Larry Maguire came to Virden to listen to what his constituents have to say about rural crime.
Recently a Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security was struck to study rural crime in Canada and Maguire wants to give Westman an opportunity to have input.
Almost 40 people attended the townhall meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 13. Among them, Mayor Murray Wright and several councillors along with Virden CAO Rhonda Stewart, Reeve of Wallace-Woodworth Clayton Canart, Stan Cochrane from RM of Sifton and many more individuals.
RCMP Staff Sergeant Joe Frizzley and Corporal Shona Frizzley (Souris detachment) attended and provided information.
The roundtable style was a relaxed setting where a number of people explained to Maguire and to his aid Drew Ostach their sense of violation and loss from theft and vandalism.
Canada wide, rural areas have higher crime rates than urban areas – 30 per cent higher.
In Manitoba, 42 per cent more crime is committed in rural areas than in the province’s cities.
For Westman the news is even worse, with all criminal code violations (excluding traffic) sitting 44 per cent higher than urban statistics.
While Maguire doesn’t sit on the Public Safety and National Security Committee, he will be taking information back to be presented to the committee. It’s a non-partisan issue that needs to be addressed he said.
“All parties have adopted the idea they need to look at this. It’s not an issue of much debate. There’s recognition by all parties that there is rural crime going on.”
Maguire wants to correlate real life accounts with the Stats Canada information.
“Stats Canada doesn’t put any faces to the information. That’s part and parcel for why we do the townhalls.
“Committee work is where the public gets to come and provide their testimony as witnesses before the committee. This is a good opportunity to come out and take the realities of life around Virden back to Ottawa.”
The Tuesday night meeting in Virden follows a similar townhall in Pilot Mound on Monday night. Meetings were also scheduled for Killarney, Melita and Souris.
“I like to get the perspective of people in our smaller communities,” he said. “This is a very good turnout. It shows there’s a lot of interest in it.”
Maguire’s office will amalgamate information from all five meetings held this week in southwestern Manitoba. This information will be provided to the committee sometime next week. Maguire expects the committee to draft some recommendations for policy by mid-December.
Others who were not at the meeting but would like to have input on the issue of rural crime still can by contacting Maguire’s Brandon or Ottawa office by phone or email.
More details to follow.