Upholding public safety is one of the core responsibilities of serving as a legislator in Parliament.
As your Member of Parliament, I’m always looking at how we can improve our laws and keep our residents safe. Bill C-75 on bail modernization came into effect in 2019, which made it easier to receive bail, and in fact, requires judges to release (previously convicted) offenders at the earliest opportunity instead of keeping them detained. Bill C-5 also removed mandatory minimum sentences for many serious offences.
The government overhauled our justice system through those two bills, and we are now seeing the full suite of their results. Violent random attacks are up and in British Columbia, the same 40 people had 6,000 negative interactions with police in one year.
Conservatives put forth a motion to toughen the country’s bail system and demand the government reform the justice system, which is now seeing violent repeat offenders on our streets. The feeling of our justice system acting as a “revolving door” is shared widely.
Kelowna's RCMP superintendent recently stated, "Being compassionate and concerned about mental health and substance use doesn't mean we have to accept repeat criminal behaviour."
The (government) has tied the hands of our justice system, ensuring repeat offenders have an easier time receiving bail and face less severe sentencing for serious crimes. One recent example of a repeat offender was a public warning that was issued here in the Central Okanagan about a violent, high-risk repeat offender who escaped from a recovery home.
That individual was recaptured, but it was one example of how the current bail system is failing public safety when someone with a history of violence and ignoring court orders was granted bail on weapons charges.
I asked the justice minister about this case in the House of Commons. While the minister said nobody out on bail should threaten Canadians' security, tragically, that has been the case. Five police officers in Canada have recently been killed with some of (those accused) being out on bail. One example was Ontario Provincial Police Const. Greg Pierzchala, who was killed last December by a repeat, violent offender released on bail (accused of) assaulting a police officer and possessing a handgun only months prior.
The calls for action to reform our bail system have now come from every Canadian premier, who jointly wrote to the government. With a 32% increase in violent crime in one year and a 92% increase in gang-related homicides over the last eight years, Parliament should not wait to reform our bail system.
That's why I was proud to second legislation recently introduced in the House of Commons by a Conservative colleague.
Bill C-313 would put a stop to the worst repeat, violent criminals from being released on bail. The proposed legislation targets (previously convicted) offenders who are prohibited from possessing firearms. When such people are charged with a serious gun offence, the hill to climb for bail will be much steeper. In just Toronto, last year, more than half the people charged with gun murders were out on bail at the time of the crime.
That will serve as a first step in reforming our bail system. Most importantly, it places the burden for bail where it should be, on repeat violent offenders to justify why they should be released back into the communities in which they've harmed innocent victims (in the past).
We can still uphold the rights of individuals and the presumption of innocence in our justice system while focusing on repeat offenders and public safety. Bill C-313 and my own Private Members Bill, C-283, "the End the Revolving Door Act," strike that balance of ensuring a justice system that protects the public, upholds victims' rights and provides a path to recovery to those who are faced with addiction.
I hope that members from all parties will join the Conservatives and fast-track these bills into law. People deserve to feel safe in their communities.
Tracy Gray in the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.