As the discussion around rural crime continues through RCMP town halls in Saskatchewan, farmers are banding together in a Facebook group to call for changes and clarity on the law.
“Farmers Against Rural Crime” was started last Wednesday by Nick Cornea, who farms near Briercrest in the Moose Jaw area. In just eight days, the group has gained 2,500 members from across the prairies.
Cornea said the members have largely been affected by property crime, collectively losing millions of dollars-worth of equipment ranging from pickup trucks to combines, as well as fuel.
“A lot of people want to be able to defend themselves on their property,” he told 650 CKOM’s Gormley.
“Be able to defend their family, their livelihoods.”
He said there has been several discussions about adapting an American-style “Castle Doctrine” — having the right to harm intruders who pose a danger on your property.
Cornea said farmers aren’t looking for an excuse to shoot people though.
“(There are) people claiming we’re redneck racist farmers, wheeling our guns around our hip like it’s the wild west, that’s not what we’re about,” he said.
“We need to find a happy medium for what we can do to defend ourselves … life over property isn’t what we’re looking for.”
RCMP officials told residents using force against trespassers could be lawful depending on the situation during a town hall in Biggar on Monday, but stressed it’s better to avoid confrontation altogether.
Cornea said the group is also pushing for changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, specifically to keep repeat offenders in custody for longer.
“Our young offender’s act was brought out when cars were worth $3,000 … Now these young kids who are going around to try and join gangs and have fun, they’re stealing $80,000 trucks,” he said.
“Now the rural homeowner … is the one that ultimately pays the price when your premiums skyrocket, you’re paying a deductible and you’re out a vehicle until you get a new one.”
He hopes they’ll gain enough members to force officials into action.
“The louder you get, the more people listen,” he said.
“I think they have no choice but to listen to us.”