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Canada’s Premiers call on Trudeau for bail reform

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, all 13 of Canada’s Premiers have urged the federal government to strengthen the country’s bail system.

On Saturday, the provincial and territorial leaders called for a “thorough review” of Canada’s bail system to better protect the public and their “heroic” first responders.

“The justice system fundamentally needs to keep anyone who poses a threat to public safety off the streets,” they wrote. “And this starts with meaningful changes to the Criminal Code, an area solely within the federal government’s jurisdiction.”

Specifically, the Premiers petitioned for “a reverse onus on bail” for anyone charged with possession of a loaded
prohibited or restricted firearm. In other words, anyone accused of this offence would not be entitled to bail. Instead, to be released, the accused would have to prove that pre-trial detention is not justified.

“A review of other firearms-related offences is also warranted to determine whether they should also attract a reverse onus on bail,” the premiers added.

According to the letter, bail reform was a topic of discussion at the October 2022 meeting of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Justice and Public Safety. They say this meeting led to a clear and unified call to action for the federal government, but changes have yet to be made.

The Premiers’ call-to-action comes just a few weeks after OPP officer Grzegorz (Greg) Pierzchala was shot and killed in the line of duty near Hagersville, Ontario. The man suspected of murdering the young first responder was reportedly out on bail at the time.

Before signing off on the document, Canada’s Premiers concluded, “The public safety of Canadians and our heroic first responders cannot wait. The time for action is now.”

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