Alberta moves to protect law-abiding citizens

Law-abiding property owners, acting in defence of their family and possessions, will be safe from civil suits filed by criminals injured during their illegal activities.

The Province of Alberta will be making changes to legislation in an effort to prevent property owners from being sued if they injure people who are committing crimes on their property.

Alberta’s Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer says the legislation the United Conservative government is introducing will serve as the first in a series of steps the government is taking to address an ongoing spike in rural crime across Alberta.

Under the new measures, criminal trespassers will lose the right to take civil action against property owners who defend their property and family within the bounds of the law. Schweitzer didn’t link the change to the case of Edouard Maurice, but he says MLA's continue to hear similar stories from other rural Albertans when discussing crime.

In the case of Maurice, who was charged after shooting and injuring Ryan Watson while the latter was looting a pickup on Maurice's property, the charges eventually stayed.  Watson, however, recently sued Maurice for pain, suffering and lost wages. Although Maurice is currently counter-suing Watson’s claims, Premier Jason Kenney voiced frustration with the lawsuit, calling it an outrage to sue law-abiding citizens for defending their own property.

Minister Schweitzer specified that the proposed changes will provide safeguards for people protecting their properties, but the ban on a civil lawsuit would not apply if a homeowner is convicted in criminal court.

The proposed changes to current legislation would come into effect in the autumn of 2020.

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