Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro says the federal government must pass promised amendments “immediately” to make it harder for serious and repeat offenders to get bail.
After meeting with provincial and territorial counterparts earlier this month, Justice Minister David Lammetti said Ottawa would move forward quickly on “targeted reforms” to the Criminal Code that would update Canada’s bail system.
Shandro said the federal government must make the changes “immediately,” saying the law on bail is fundamentally unsound and must be reformed.
“Alberta calls on the federal government to walk the walk, live up to its promise and make this change now. It is the right thing to do,” he said in a statement.
“Victims, law enforcement and all Albertans have been waiting far too long for this to happen.”
The changes would implement a reverse onus for repeat violent offenders who are seeking bail, as well as changes as it relates to serious offences committed with firearms. The reverse onus would apply to repeat offenders committing crimes using knives and bear spray.
Ottawa promised to introduce legislative changes as early as this session of Parliament.
“We have a broad consensus on a path forward,” Lametti said, adding that reforms would aim to address the challenges posed by repeat violent offenders and those facing firearms or other weapons charges.
“Bail is a constitutional right, but it is not absolute,” he said. “Our laws are clear that bail can be denied where there is just cause, when it is necessary for the safety of the public or to maintain the public’s confidence in the administration of justice.”
In December, 28-year-old OPP Const. Grzegorz (Greg) Pierzchala was murdered. Court documents show one of the two people facing first-degree murder charges in his death, Randall McKenzie, was initially denied bail in a separate case involving assault and weapons charges but was released after a review.
Pierzchala was responding to a call for a vehicle in a ditch west of Hagersville, Ont. on Dec. 27. It was his first day working solo.
In September 2021, Ontario Premier Doug Ford told the justice system to “get its act together” after a man accused of killing a Toronto police officer was granted bail.
A 55-year-old officer died on July 2 after being struck by a vehicle in what investigators have called a deliberate act as he was responding to a report of a robbery in a parking lot at Toronto City Hall. Accused Umar Zameer was let out on bail as he faced one count of first-degree murder.
“This is beyond comprehension,” Ford wrote on Twitter. “It’s completely unacceptable that the person charged for this heinous crime is now out on bail. Our justice system needs to get its act together and start putting victims and their families ahead of criminals.”