The MP for North Okanagan Shuswap is looking to change Canada’s Criminal Code to include a specific offence for theft of firefighting equipment that causes danger to life.
Mel Arnold has tabled a private member’s bill that has received first reading in the House of Commons.
The bill, C-365, proposes a new specific offence for theft of firefighting equipment that causes danger to life. Arnold’s bill also proposes to establish mischief related to firefighting equipment as an aggravating circumstance while the third component of the bill proposes a sentencing objective for theft of firefighting equipment.
He says he was shocked to hear about equipment being stolen and vandalized during BC’s record wildfire season.
“We researched the Criminal Code and found that theft of firefighting equipment wasn’t treated the same as mischief to the same related equipment, so what this bill does is bring the sentencing objectives to the same level as mischief and damage to firefighting equipment,” Arnold says in an interview with Kiss FM.
Arnold says if his private members bill passes, a conviction could deliver a maximum penalty of a life sentence in prison (25 years).
“The aggravating circumstance for mischief and the sentencing objective for theft related to firefighting equipment would be available for judges to consider, at their discretion, when deciding a sentence. The aggravating circumstance and sentencing objective would provide a sentencing judge the basis to deliver a heavier sentence than would otherwise be applied for simple mischief or theft.”
The Conservative MP says it would cover offences at all fire sites.
“It’s not just wildfire equipment. It could be a fire hose inside an apartment building, or a fire extinguisher inside a school classroom. Those pieces of equipment are very critical to public safety and firefighter safety,” adds Arnold.
The Tory MP expects debate on second reading could happen sometime this fall.