Federal Justice Minister David Lametti has introduced new legislation to reform Canada’s bail system, reacting to calls for tougher laws from premiers, the police and opposition parties.
The proposed changes include new reverse-onus bail conditions aimed at people charged with serious violent offences involving a weapon who were convicted of a similar offence in the previous five years.
Reverse-onus bail conditions mean offenders will need to prove why they should be allowed out on bail, rather than prosecutors convincing judges why the offenders should remain imprisoned.
The legislation announced Tuesday would also add a number of firearms offences to existing reverse-onus provisions, and expand them for offences involving intimate partner violence.
“These proposed reforms signal that repeat violent offenders who pose a risk to community safety should not be released while awaiting trial,” Mr. Lametti told a news conference in Ottawa.
He said the goal of the bill is to improve public safety, but with an eye to making sure measures don’t disproportionately affect Indigenous and Black offenders or other vulnerable groups known to be overrepresented in the criminal-justice system.
Mr. Lametti said the legislation responds to concerns from Canada’s premiers, mayors, police and Parliament.
British Columbia Attorney-General Niki Sharma said Tuesday that she welcomed the federal government’s plan for amendments to the Criminal Code.
“The amendments reflect B.C.͛s advocacy for a broad definition of violence, better protections when intimate partner violence is involved and an increased ability for community impact to be considered in bail hearings,” Ms. Sharma said in a statement issued by her office.
" ͞We’ve been clear all along that federal action is needed to fix the core of this national issue. Given the challenges we’ve seen, I am glad the federal government has taken B.C.͛s concerns seriously.”
Ms. Sharma said she was urging Parliament to pass the measures quickly.
In Ottawa, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre told a news conference that the proposed amendments do not fix the status quo as it relates to bail, but that his party has a plan that would make sure violent, repeat offenders who are arrested again are put in prison and stay there until they have fulfilled their sentence.
With a report from The Canadian Press
CHONG TESTIMONY AT COMMITTEE - Conservative MP Michael Chong, who has been informed by CSIS that he and family members in Hong Kong were targets of Beijing state intimidation. is to testify before a meeting of the Commons house affairs committee looking into his case. Mr. Chong appears between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. ET. Please check The Globe and Mail for coverage.
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BERNIER ADMITS VIOLATING PUBLIC-HEALTH ORDERS IN MANITOBA - Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada now running in a Manitoba by-election, was in a Winnipeg court on Tuesday, where he admitted to violating public-health orders in Manitoba. Story here from CBC.
ESCALATION IN STANDOFF OVER GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES - A standoff over government subsidies for the first electric-vehicle battery plant being built in Canada has dramatically escalated, bringing into public view the bind in which Ottawa finds itself as other automakers demand public backing comparable to the unprecedented sums recently committed to Volkswagen for another battery factory. Story here.
B.C. SENDING CANCER PATIENTS TO U.S FOR TREATMENT - British Columbia will send cancer patients out-of-country for radiation therapy in response to long waiting times and a backlog at home. Story here.
INFLATION UP IN APRIL - Canada’s annual inflation rate ticked up in April as a variety of costs – including gasoline, rents and mortgage interest – contributed to the first acceleration since last summer. Story here.
CANADA SEEKING FRIENDSHIP WITH SOUTH KOREA: JOLY - Canada is vying to be the “best of friends” with South Korea, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Tuesday as she arrived in the South Korean capital with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is making his first official visit to the country. Story here.
MOE UNVEILING ELECTRIC GRID PLAN - Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he was going to unveil a plan on Tuesday that would see the province’s electrical grid become net zero by 2050 – 15 years later than Ottawa’s target. Story here from CBC.
QUEBEC ETHICS COMMISSIONER LOOKING INTO JUSTICE MINISTER APPOINTING FRIEND A JUDGE - Quebec’s ethics and professional conduct commissioner has launched an investigation into the province’s Justice Minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, concerning a possible conflict of interest in his appointment of a judge to the Quebec court. Story here from CBC.
NO ETHICS INVESTIGATIONS UNTIL NEW COMMISSIONER APPOINTED, OFFICE SAYS - Staff at the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner told a House of Commons committee Friday that the watchdog cannot undertake any investigations while the ethics commissioner’s job is vacant. Story here from CBC.
GREEN DEPUTY LEADER RUNNING IN MONTREAL BYELECTION - Green Party deputy leader Jonathan Pedneault is planning to run for a seat in the House of Commons in an upcoming by-election in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Westmount riding. Story here from CTV.
PROVINCES DEALING WITH HARM REDUCTION - Alberta’s United Conservative Party is pledging to pass a law that would broaden involuntary treatment for people with severe drug addictions if re-elected to government on May 29. Story here. Meanwhile, B.C. Premier David Eby has acknowledged that communities are worried about decreasing public safety after the province’s precedent-setting move to decriminalize the possession of personal amounts of illicit drugs connected with overdoses, but said municipalities have tools to place limits on public drug use. Story here.
THIS AND THAT
TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, May.16, accessible here.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY - Chrystia Freeland, also Finance Minister, held private meetings, and was scheduled to appear before the Commons finance committee to discuss Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act. Ms. Freeland was also scheduled to attend Question Period.
IN OTTAWA - Justice Minister David Lametti, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc, and Mental Health Minister Carolyn Bennett, announced new measures on bail reform. Indigenous-Services Minister Patty Hajdu and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller were among the participants in an Economic Reconciliation Summit held by the Canada 2020 organization. Also attending: Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England.
MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, in Detroit, made an announcement with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on a Canada and United States Alternative Fuel Corridor that will make charging electric vehicles easier when driving between the two countries.
NEW VIA RAIL LEADER - Mario Péloquin, who has served as chief operating officer for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is the new president and chief executive officer of VIA Rail Canada Inc., Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced Tuesday. Mr. Péloquin’s appointment is effective June 12 and runs for a term of five years.
WORD OF THE DAY - “Trudeaupian” as in “Trudeaupian policies” - Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre in remarks on bail reform measures announced Tuesday by the federal government.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to arrive Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea for an official visit ahead of travelling to Hiroshima for the G7 Summit.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, in Ottawa, held a media scrum in the foyer of the House of Commons, and was also scheduled to attend Question Period.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre held a news conference on Parliament Hill. He also attended Question Period.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, took questions from journalists in the House of Commons before participating in Question Period.
No schedules available for other party leaders.
On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Rita Trichur, the Globe’s senior business writer and columnist, explains why it’s taken so long for a trade agreement between Canada and India to come through and why it’s so important. The Indian and Canadian governments have been negotiating for more than a decade on a trade agreement, but this might finally be the moment we get one. The Decibel is here.
CANADA’S INTERNATIONAL STANDING - One in five Canadians say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitting Canada will never reach NATO defence spending targets enhances Canada’s reputation by being straightforward, according to new research by the Angus Reid Institute. Details here on the research.
The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on the massive potential of clean power in Alberta and Saskatchewan: “The federal Liberals have pledged to reach net zero emissions from electricity by 2035. Policy details of clean electricity regulations are expected this summer – backed by billions of dollars in funding. While Alberta and Saskatchewan both promise net zero power by 2050, premiers Danielle Smith and Scott Moe this month rejected 2035 as too expensive and unrealistic. This is a can’t-do attitude, the opposite of the Prairies’ more typical can-do spirit. Ambition is what’s necessary.”
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on a quixotic NDP quest to fight the prime ministerial power that now binds them: “You might think it funny that a New Democrat wants to talk about limiting the power of the prime minister on matters of confidence and the triggering of elections. Yet Manitoba MP Daniel Blaikie has waded in with a quixotic quest to have Parliament, rather than the prime minister, decide what is a matter of confidence. Mr. Blaikie’s NDP is already in an agreement that calls for the party to support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government on votes of confidence in the Commons until 2025. And now Mr. Blaikie is arguing, 14 months in, that it’s unfair that the Prime Minister gets to decide what a confidence vote is. But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that some New Democrats are gnawing at the ropes that bind them to the Liberals.”
Dany Assaf, Walid Hejazi, and Joe Manget (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on whether Canada must accept that the next generation will be worse off than us: “In 2012, only 37 per cent of Canadians surveyed by Nanos thought that their children would have lower living standards than themselves. By 2022 a similar poll by Pew Research pegged the number at 75 per cent. An increasing number of Canadians seem resigned to believing that the next generation will be worse off than us. Like many parents and proud Canadians, we don’t want to accept that. It is not too late for us to change the narrative, and more importantly ensure that our living standards do not decline. It will take time and new focus, but it can be done.”
Steve Paikin (TVO) on how it’s time for Queen’s Park to decide the fate of John A. Macdonald’s statue: “For the past three years, there’s been an ugly eyesore at the southernmost tip of the Queen’s Park precinct that has managed to do a couple of things. It’s ruined one of the great vistas the province has to offer. And it serves as a constant reminder of how indecisive and ineffectual some members of the legislature can be when they put their minds to it. Or in this case, don’t put their minds to it. I’m referring, of course, to the statue of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, which has been covered in ugly boarded-up cladding thanks to Ontario’s culture war over statues and place names.”