If voters in Portage-Lisgar send Maxime Bernier back to the House of Commons, he says he will take steps to bring in new self-defence laws similar to those in some U.S. states, to give people more rights to defend themselves and their homes, and that would allow those who use violent or deadly force in self-defence to avoid punishment or prosecution in some cases.

“Crime is a rising concern in many regions of the country, including in rural areas like here in Portage-Lisgar, where many houses are isolated and police stations are sometimes many tens of kilometres away,” Bernier said during a Tuesday media conference in Winkler. “One obvious way to deter crime is to make it clear to criminals that there are laws and enforcement means in place that make it likely that they will be caught and severely punished.

“Another is the fear that victims are going to defend themselves.”

Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) is currently running as a candidate in the upcoming by-election, in which Portage-Lisgar voters will decide who will fill a House of Commons seat vacated when MP Candice Bergen stepped down in February.

During his campaign, Bernier has made a number of promises to attract conservative-leaning voters in the area, including a proposal to open up the “abortion debate” in Canada.

Bernier says the PPC want amendments to Section 35 of the Criminal Code to include the concept of the “inviolability” of one’s home, known as “Castle Doctrine,” that would allow victims “to use force, up to and including deadly force, to defend themselves against a violent intruder, free from legal prosecution.”

Bernier also wants to modify Section 34 of the code that would “clarify and fortify the right to self-defence, and increase the burden of proof necessary to charge and convict victims who used force to defend themselves against a violent attacker.”

Bernier also wants to see changes to laws that would allow people to openly carry bear spray, as he is proposing that pepper spray be removed from the list of prohibited weapons and made legal to possess and carry for self-defence purposes.

Bernier previously held several roles in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, including leading the industry and foreign affairs ministries, but he quit the Conservative party in 2018 after losing its 2017 leadership contest to Andrew Scheer.

After forming his own party, Bernier ran in his former seat of Beauce, Que., in the 2019 and 2021 elections, losing both times to a Conservative candidate.

The upcoming by-election in Portage Lisgar will take place June 19.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 13, 2023 at 13:56

This item reprinted with permission from    The Sun    Winnipeg, Manitoba
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