David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, speaks to reporters after a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

Justice Minister David Lametti tables legislation to reform bail system

Justice Minister David Lametti introduced new legislation this morning to reform Canada’s bail system, after months of calls for tougher laws from premiers, police and opposition.

He is scheduled to hold a news conference today with cabinet colleagues, including Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett, to explain the changes.

Lametti’s update to the law aims to deal with repeat violent offenders and offences involving firearms and other dangerous weapons.

The proposed changes to the Criminal Code come amid pressure from the provinces and territories to reduce the number of repeat violent offenders who are granted bail.

Provincial and territorial premiers have unanimously asked the government to create a “reverse onus” system for some offences, which would require defendants to prove in court why they should be released on bail.

High-profile cases have recently brought attention to the issue, including the stabbing deaths of a woman and her daughter in Edmonton, which police say were committed by a man who was on bail at the time.

The federal Conservatives say that’s the result of what they call a “catch-and-release” system, and they have been demanding that the Liberal government come up with stronger laws.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that anyone who is charged with a crime will not be denied reasonable bail without just cause.

Lametti said he would bring in targeted reforms that respect that right.