Justice Minister defends Canada’s bail system, says it’s ‘sturdy and sound’15 hours in the past
Justice Minister David Lametti is defending Canada’s bail system, calling it “sturdy and sound,” as premiers, federal Conservatives, and legislation enforcement leaders have continued their requires extra restrictive bail measures.
The Justice Minister informed a Home committee Monday that Ottawa is open to doable adjustments, but additionally mentioned it’s false to attribute latest tragic incidents to Invoice C-75, which made adjustments to Canada’s bail legal guidelines when it was enacted in 2019.
In his remarks, Mr. Lametti referenced the on-duty killing, in late December, of 28-year-old Ontario Provincial Police Constable Grzegorz Pierzchala. One of many suspects accused of the constable’s killing was out on bail for earlier alleged violent offences – circumstances which have galvanized requires change from legislation enforcement.
Mr. Lametti mentioned the federal government is dedicated to making sure public security, and on the identical time, change to the bail system should not additional exacerbate the overrepresentation of Indigenous and Black individuals inside Canadian jails.
“There aren’t any straightforward options to such a posh matter,” Mr. Lametti mentioned. “We should not additional marginalize susceptible individuals, together with these combating mental-health points and dependancy. It’s a fragile stability.”
Accused individuals in Canada usually are not assured bail, and by legislation it may be denied beneath particular grounds, together with for causes of public security. That mentioned, accused individuals do have a Constitution proper not be denied bail with out simply trigger, and for bail to be on “cheap” phrases.
Within the months since Constable Pierzchala’s killing, the Liberal authorities has been beneath strain to enact extra restrictive bail procedures, notably round firearms offences and repeat violent offenders. Mr. Lametti is about to fulfill with provincial and territorial ministers of justice and public security on March 10 to listen to their considerations about present bail legal guidelines.
Whereas these politicians name for extra restrictive legal guidelines, some criminologists and felony defence legal professionals have raised considerations with this concept – saying Canada already has strict bail legal guidelines, together with processes for courts to disclaim bail. They usually say that the notion the nation has a “catch-and-release” bail system – as some politicians, notably federal Opposition Chief Pierre Poilievre, have mentioned – is fake.
The strain between these viewpoints is about to be explored because the Home of Commons committee on justice and human rights continues its examine of Canada’s bail system, which it started final month, with testimony from OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique.
The committee heard extensively Monday about Invoice C-75. The legislation acted to codify a landmark 2017 Supreme Court docket choice, often called R v. Antic. That courtroom choice requires police and courts to launch people on the earliest cheap alternative – and never apply pointless launch situations.
Pressed by Conservative MPs, Mr. Lametti mentioned he doesn’t settle for their place that adjustments made beneath the legislation have had a damaging influence on public security.
Mr. Lametti famous that the invoice didn’t modify the assessments that decide when an accused individual could also be launched by a courtroom, and informed the committee the laws has been the topic of great “misinformation.”
The Home committee opted for a examine of bail, after Canada’s 13 premiers despatched a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Jan. 13, 2023, calling for bail processes to be strengthened. The letter referred to the necessity to higher shield the general public, in addition to first responders.
The premiers referred to as for “reverse onus” bail provisions to be expanded to incorporate a selected firearms-related offence. Reverse onus signifies that as an alternative of the Crown needing to show an alleged offender ought to be denied bail, as is common, the accused should present why they need to obtain it.
Brantford Police Service Chief Robert Davis and Six Nations Police Service Chief Darren Montour, who additionally testified Monday, agreed that an enlargement of reverse onus provisions for sure firearms offences could be useful – a place that Commissioner Carrique additionally took.
“We’re seeing, primarily these trafficking in illicit medicine, possessing handguns extra,” Chief Montour mentioned. “We don’t want these people strolling the streets in our communities with a loaded firearm, particularly in the event that they’re beneath the affect of medicine or alcohol.”