Reasonable Bail – Reactions

September 8, 2013

It was refreshing to see the media embrace the John Howard Society’s report on reasonable bail.  The issue of reasonable bail (or the lack there of) impacts all facets of the justice system.  It is time for principled and evidentiary based change.   

The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star both had in depth coverage of the report and the fall out. 

I obviously have strong views on the subject of the problems in Canada’s bail system.  You can read some of my comments on the subject to Ottawa’s Metro News.

The report had such an impact that Canada’s Justice Minister Peter Mackay commented on the bail issue while attending a victims of crime round table, saying that he intended to look at the issue.

According to the Globe and Mail article Mackay said that it is too soon to determine how the federal government might address the issue.

“I want to get all that information before me, prior to commenting on … what the next steps are as far as legislation, if any,” 

Forgive me if the Justice Ministers comments don’t inspire me with confidence.  It is hard to forget that most of the increase in the remand population over the last few years is directly attributable to the Conservative Parties policies.  It is hard to believe that a party who increased the number of ‘reverse onus’ offences (shifting the burden of justifying release from the Crown to the accused) is overly concerned with bail.  This is the party who has abandoned evidence based criminal justice policy in favour of ideological measures that appeal to their supporters (note: not a majority of Canadians).   

My bet is that these ‘next steps’ will fall into the ‘if any’ category.   

In bail court it is often said that an accused’s past performance is the best indicator of future bail compliance.  Applying this to the Conservative Party I am not holding my breath for positive changes to our bail system.