Tuesday, May 16, 2023

With proposed Bill C-48 Federal Government seeks to strengthen national Bail system

A call from provinces and municipalities across Canada towards safer communities has been heard by the Federal Government, with the Minster of Justice and Attorney General Davide Lamettti announcing some changes to the criminal justice system today in Ottawa.

The scope of the change is outlined by way of the information release that came with today's announcement.

Bill C-48 proposes to make targeted changes to the Criminal Code’s bail regime to ensure our communities stay safe. The changes would address repeat violent offending with weapons including knives and bear spray, gun violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV). 

The proposed reforms would make it more difficult for accused persons to get bail if it is alleged that they engaged in serious violent offending involving weapons, specific firearms offences and IPV. 

The Bill focuses on reverse onus provisions, which refer to circumstances where an individual would be detained while awaiting their trial unless they can prove to the court that their detention is not required. 

The proposed changes seek to improve the safety of people and communities across Canada.

Of Note from the Legislation is some of the areas that the Federal government hopes to address:

Create a new reverse onus targeting repeat violent offending involving weapons
Expand the list of firearms offences that trigger a reverse onus
Broaden the existing reverse onus regime for victims of intimate partner violence (IPV)
Clarify the meaning of the term “prohibition order” in an existing reverse onus for offences involving weapons
Require courts to consider an accused person’s history of convictions for violence and the safety of the community when making a bail decision
Hold a parliamentary review of these measures after five years of the bill receiving royal assent

Further background to the proposed changes in Bill C- 48 can be reviewed here.

The Federal Government information release is available here.

Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen was among the first from the Provincial Government and in the Northwest to comment on the announcement from Ottawa today.

Attorney General Niki Sharma also issued a statement following the Federal announcement.

In the Northwest, the City of Terrace was the most vocal community towards the issue of repeat offenders and the need for more stringent conditions. The City having made many requests of the province in the past to push their concerns to effect change.

The topic has also been a frequent theme for Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, who most recently spoke to the issue in April of this year.

More notes from the House of Commons can be reviewed here.

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