All 13 Premiers of Canada’s Provinces and Territories have signed on to a letter, urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to strengthen the bail system within Canada.
The letter originated from Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office and comes following the death of 28 year old Ontario Provincial Police Constable Greg Pierzchala who was killed while on duty last month.
Pierzchala was investigating a vehicle in a ditch when he was ambushed and fatally shot by two people, including one who had previously been denied bail on assault and weapons charges. Both people a 25 year old man and 30 year old woman have been charged with first degree murder.
There have been a growing number of calls for changes to prevent accused persons, who
are out on bail, from committing further criminal acts.
The letter states that the justice system fundamentally needs to keep those who pose a threat to public safety off of the streets, and starts with changes to the Criminal Code at the federal level.
Much of the letter focuses on crimes involving firearms, and suggests “a reverse onus on bail must be created for the offence of possession of a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm in s. 95 of the Code.”
A person accused of a s. 95 offence
should have to demonstrate why their detention is not justified when they were alleged
to have committed an offence where there was imminent risk to the public, as is already
the case with several offences involving firearms.
The letter also states the need to review other firearms-related offences to determine if the same reverse onus on bail should also be considered.
Discussions on this same topic were held during a meeting of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Justice and Public Safety in Dartmouth last fall.
The letter concludes “The public safety of Canadians and our heroic first responders cannot wait. The time for action is now.”