The Yukon Party says it will deal with the territory’s rash of property crimes and fight drug trafficking with more resources for police and community programs.
Much of Friday’s announcement, such as promising to continue funding Crime Stoppers and the Kwanlin Dun safety liaison officer program, and building a new RCMP detachment in Faro, consisted of measures the Yukon Party government has already initiated.
The promises are aimed at addressing concerns heard from citizens on the campaign trail, Riverdale South candidate Danny Macdonald told the News Tuesday.
“We are looking at ways with stakeholders and RCMP to improve community safety for Yukon families,” he said.
But the Yukon Party also says it will provide the RCMP with more money to increase neighbourhood patrols. Exactly how much money would depend on what the RCMP requests, Macdonald said.
“This government has always met the requirements the RCMP (put forward) and we will continue to do that.”
The Yukon Party also says it will work with the RCMP to restore the auxiliary constable program to full strength.
In February the RCMP decided to scale down its auxiliary constable program across Canada, citing concerns for constable safety.
Auxiliary constables are unarmed, trained civilians who assist the RCMP. In Yukon, that meant more personnel working on check stops looking for impaired drivers. Since February, that type of support isn’t possible anymore.
“We have an isolated (RCMP) M division, with limited resources,” Macdonald said. “They can’t be calling in other resources (on) short notice.”
The scale-down means more regular officers working on check stops when they could be assigned to other duties, he said.
The Yukon Party also said it would look at replacing RCMP detachments throughout the territory, including the Faro one.
The new Faro RCMP detachment was first announced in March 2014, when the government earmarked $3.6 million for construction.
In January the government cancelled the tender after bids came in too high. No timeline or budget were released by the Yukon Party for the detachment replacements, only a promise Faro’s would be replaced “immediately.”
The Yukon Party also said it would continue with two other initiatives announced during the last legislative session.
During the 2016 budget address, the Yukon government announced the revival of the Crime Stoppers program, with a $21,000 grant for startup costs.
Crime Stoppers programs can’t accept government funds for cash rewards, but there are other costs like marketing, which includes placing ads to promote the Crime Stoppers phone line and website, said Mike Pemberton, one of the volunteers working to bring back the program.
The community has been asking for Crime Stoppers to be brought back, Macdonald said.
“Crime Stoppers have proven successful in other jurisdictions,” he said. “The RCMP identified it as a very effective tool in reducing property crime and criminal behaviour.”
In May, the government announced $1.4 million for Kwanlin Dun’s community safety liaison officer program, part of a bigger plan to make the McIntyre neighbourhood safer for residents.
Macdonald insisted there are more justice announcements to come when asked about the party’s plan to deal with the root causes of crime.
The Yukon Green Party, which has released its full platform on its website, focused on dealing with addictions.
“We believe that the most effective approach requires removing the root causes of crime, such as poverty, addictions and other medical issues, and even boredom,” Mike Ivens, the Green candidate in Porter Creek North, wrote in an email.
Tackling drug trafficking in the territory should focus on harm reduction, including supervised injection sites, Ivens added.
He also questioned how the Yukon Party could pledge more police resources while also promising to not raise taxes.
A spokesperson for the Yukon Liberal Party told the News the party would unveil its justice platform on Oct. 27.
The NDP hasn’t released its justice platform either, but Lois Moorcroft, who is seeking re-election in Copperbelt South and served as the Opposition justice critic, chastised the Yukon Party’s record.
“The YP has failed on justice issues,” she said.
The Yukon Party failed to implement part of a 2010 review of the territory’s police force, she said.
Community policing needs to be improved, and there needs to be more diversity among Yukon RCMP officers, which means hiring more women and First Nation officers, she said.
“We need the RCMP to be more reflective of the population it serves.”
Regarding property crime, Moorcroft said the NDP is in favour of increased police patrols in Whitehorse neighbourhoods.
Contact Pierre Chauvin at firstname.lastname@example.org