The Kenney government has introduced new legislation aimed at protecting residents from domestic violence by making the past history of offenders known to their partners.
The Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence Act – also known as Clare’s Law – would implement new measures to empower at-risk individuals in preventing violent situations from developing.
Whether the new legislation will significantly reduce Alberta’s current rate of domestic violence, which right now is the third worst in Canada, remains to be seen.
What is known is that addressing domestic violence must involve a comprehensive, multi-level, multi-stakeholder approach. And that approach should certainly include up-to-date legislation.
For his part, Premier Jason Kenney calls Alberta’s Clare’s Law a good step forward.
“This legislation will be a critical new tool to help those at risk of experiencing domestic violence or facing abuse already by ensuring they have access to information about the violence history of their partners,” said Kenney.
“This is a first step, not the last. We are proud to be keeping our promise to protect vulnerable people in our province.”
Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney added: “This law will allow people to make the best choices for their safety and be informed about potential risks of a relationship.”
The legislation would allow persons at risk to find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence or other relevant acts. It would also let police take a proactive approach to violence prevention by disclosing relevant information to people at risk without an application.
Giving a person at risk of domestic violence information about the harm he or she may potentially be facing will allow them to take steps to protect themselves and others.
As such, this legislation is a great move for the community at large and something that will hopefully move towards proclamation without undue delay.
At the same time, the Kenney government must also ensure that police and other stakeholders who support victims of domestic violence receive adequate resources to do their important work.
- Dan Singleton is the Mountain View Gazette editor