Law would prevent dangerous and long-term offenders from changing their names

·3 min read
Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish has introduced legislation to bar dangerous offenders from legally changing their names. (Government of Alberta - image credit)
Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish has introduced legislation to bar dangerous offenders from legally changing their names. (Government of Alberta - image credit)

Legislation introduced Monday would prevent more violent criminals from legally changing their names in Alberta.

If passed, the bill would prevent dangerous offenders and long-term offenders from changing their identities in the province for the rest of their lives.

"Under my watch, I'm unwilling to allow even one of these violent criminals to be able to change their names, hide from their past, get a fresh start, because I know that they pose a significant public safety risk," Nate Glubish, minister for Service Alberta, said at a Monday press conference.

Glubish said "monsters" deserve no anonymity and should have to live with the consequences of their choices.

Glubish's bill would also stop offenders recently released from prison and declared "high risk" by police from seeking a new name.

Unlike criminals declared a long-term threat by the court, high-risk offenders would only be banned from name changes while they carry that temporary designation.

Glubish said he's also determined to push all other Canadian jurisdictions to adopt similar laws. He said it would be too easy for a criminal to move to another province or territory and apply for a legal name change there.

Alberta will be the first province to adopt such a law, should the legislature pass it.

On Monday, Glubish sent letters to his counterparts across the country, asking them to follow suit and offering Alberta's assistance.

Bill 61, the Vital Statistics Amendment Act 2021, comes on the heels of a similar legal change last year that stops sex offenders from changing their names.

But last fall, a dangerous offender who had no convictions for sexual offences sought to change his name and conceal that information from the public.

A judge declared Leo Teskey a dangerous offender in 2010 after a long string of convictions. He beat Edmonton landlord Dougald Miller into a vegetative state in 2000. He shot a police officer in the back of the head in 1988 and assaulted a toddler in 1994.

The case caught Glubish's attention, and he pushed to extend the name-change ban.

Karen Kuntz, who experienced a violent sexual assault, said survivors and victims of crime have a right to information about their attackers long after they go to prison.

Kuntz, who is also the executive director of the Airdrie and District Victims Assistance Society, said knowing the identity of her attacker allowed her to take precautions.

After the traumatic event, her assailant said if she told anyone what he'd done to her, he'd kill her. She said she spent years looking over her shoulder. She feared he would target her daughters and show up at their school.

"Those who make the conscious choice to intentionally hurt another human being, someone who drastically changed the course of that person's life, they, the offender, should never be allowed to hide," Kuntz said.

She said victims live with the repercussions of their attacker's choices for the rest of their lives.