Rural crime has become more and more of a problem in the past couple of years, and a big topic of conversations at CropConnect this year. For one breakout session, lawyer Lisa Labossiere, of Myers LLP, went over recent court cases pertaining to rural crime involving farmer interaction to help ensure farmers understand what they can and can’t do to protect their property.
Although it’s a tough pill to swallow, Labossiere says when it comes to property theft, if you want to stay clear of being injured or charges — it’s best to let that item go. She says as soon as there’s any type of injury, you’re going to be under the microscope.
“There are some laws in place to protect property … there’s Tort Law, where you can sue people for trespass although not necessarily (common) as it costs money and sometimes you can’t get blood from a stone,” Labossiere says.
“Also, the Criminal Code of Canada has numerous offences listed that makes it a crime to trespass at night, break and enter, forcible entry, (etc.) — they’re all crimes where a person can be charged where you can report the matter to police and hopefully charges in ensue,” she says.
When it comes to legislation, she says what Alberta’s laws regarding trespassing would be the most helpful to farmers, as they allow the presumption that a person can not enter farm land without prior consent. She adds Manitoba legislation is a little bit behind the times when it comes to trespassing and that she encourages farmers to write to their MPs and MPPs to look into their provincial trespassing acts.
(Article and provincial trespassing acts found below)
Using a gun is by far the last resort to defending yourself or your property, Labossiere says. In order for you to be able to use force, it has to be proportional to the circumstances presented.
“If someone is coming at you with a gun, of course you would be allowed to use lethal force in return (but) there has to be a visual, or reasonable belief that they have a gun, and your response has to be reasonable in the circumstance,” she says.
That being said, she says there’s a big difference between protecting yourself, or someone under your care versus someone’s personal property. Past court cases have determined a person will likely never win their case for using a firearm to protect their property.