Alberta’s Jason Kenney wants harsher Criminal Code punishments for defacing police statues

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As protests about police brutality simmer across North America, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wants to make it a crime to deface police and peace officer memorials.

In a tweet Friday, Kenney said there have been “repeated acts of vandalism” involving police memorials in Alberta.

“In response, we will ask the federal Parliament to amend Section 430 of the Criminal Code, which imposes minimum penalties for damaging war memorials, to add police & peace officer memorials,” he wrote.

In addition, he said, Alberta is considering introducing specific penalties under Alberta regulatory law “to deter vandalism that dishonours those who have made the supreme sacrifice.”

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There have been at least two acts of vandalism in Alberta this week.

On Thursday, a couple of beat cops discovered a statue and memorial in Constable Ezio Faraone Park in Edmonton’s river valley covered in graffiti. According to Global News, the paint included the words “F*** cops” in addition to several tags.

The park is a memorial to Faraone, a member of the Edmonton police tactical team who was shot and killed by a suspect fleeing an armed robbery in 1990.

Meanwhile in Calgary, someone used chalk to scrawl the word “kill” all over a monument to peacekeepers last weekend. The stone monument with a plaque on the front stands in the memory of nine Canadian peacekeepers who died when their plane was shot down over Syria in 1974.

“It is despicable to dishonour the memory of those who gave their lives in the defence of our community,” Kenney tweeted.

The Criminal Code currently sets out minimum punishments for anyone found guilty of mischief in relation to a building or structure that “primarily serves as a monument to honour persons who were killed or died as a consequence of a war.”

A first offence gets a minimum fine of $1,000, a second gets a minimum of 14 days imprisonment and every offence after that means a minimum of 30 days imprisonment.

Kenney’s comments come amidst a growing debate over police conduct, funding and oversight, as well as statutes of public figures and whether their defacement should be accepted as protest or condemned as an outrage. This is not the first time Kenney has made his position clear.

Protesters in Montreal toppled a statue of John A. Macdonald last Saturday, highlighting the debate over the true legacy of Canada’s first prime minister.

Kenney again took to Twitter to take on what he called the “roving band of thugs” that had defaced the statue, which eventually ended up without a head.

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“Many of those on the extreme left responsible for this kind of violence claim that Canada is an illegitimate state, all the while enjoying Canada’s rights, freedoms, privileges & prosperity,” he tweeted.

He added that if Montreal did not put the statue back up, he would be happy to take it and install it on the grounds of the Alberta legislature.

Alex Boyd is a Calgary-based reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @alex.n.boyd

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