Jail not bail

As I begin my summer listening tour, one of the concerns I’m hearing about is frustration with what many call our “catch and release” justice system. This includes concerns from those in our protective and emergency services community, who privately speak out about habitual offenders that frequently victimize innocent citizens.

Court records often reveal hardened career criminals with multiple offenses who continue to be released on bail or other forms of release, only to commit more crimes.

Recently, the Conservative Official Opposition Deputy Leader, MP Melissa Lantsman, received a reply to an Order Paper Question on this concerning subject. The answers are alarming. I will share a few for context. In 2022, across Canada, 256 people were killed by someone out on bail or another form of release. This accounted for just under 30% of all homicides committed in 2022.

This is a disturbing increase compared to the 182 individuals killed by someone on bail in 2019. In 2020, the number of individuals killed rose to 198.

Many Canadians rightfully ask why this is getting worse. What happened? In 2018, the Trudeau Government passed Bill C-75, which amended the criminal code. Although there were several amendments, the guiding principle regarding bail is summarized as:
“In a contested bail hearing, including that releasing the accused without conditions should be the default position when granting release and that “release is favoured at the earliest reasonable opportunity on the least onerous grounds.”

This has resulted in what many describe as a crime wave across Canada. For example, violent crime is up 39%, murders have increased 43%, and gang-related homicides are up 108%. Violent gun crime has also increased 101%. This is why last year Canada’s Premiers jointly signed a letter to the Trudeau Liberal government to demand changes in response to the consequences of Bill C-75.

The Leader of the Official Opposition, the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, has made it clear that repeat violent offenders should get jail, not bail, to create safer communities for Canadians. The data from the order paper questions is alarming. It also reveals that the Trudeau Liberal government has been ignoring this data, which clearly shows the devastation and chaos created by the catch-and-release amendments in Bill C-75.

When the Liberal government created Bill C-75, they argued that one of the issues it seeks to address is the disproportionate impact on groups that are over-represented in Canada’s criminal justice system. Unfortunately, the Liberals did not consider public safety. Those who would have been in jail are now free to continue re-offending and committing crimes against innocent Canadians.

My question this week: Are you concerned about this increase in serious crime statistics? Why or why not?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.