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Bail Reform Legislation Will Come by Late June, Says Canada’s Safety Minister

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The Liberal government will table legislation on bail reform before the end of the spring legislative session, near the end of June, says Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.

While the government has promised reform since March, Mendicino gave the first indication of a set timeline during an April 30 interview on the Global News program The West Block.

When asked whether reform legislation will be introduced before the House of Commons rises for the summer, Mendicino said, “The short answer is yes.”

“I share the concerns about the recent spate of violence,” he said, referring to a rise in the number of violent incidents in cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary, particularly on Toronto’s transit system.

“We’re committed to dealing with this through reforms to our bail laws, including focusing on repeat violent offenders,” he said. Along with bail reform, Mendicino said, the government is investing in law enforcement and help for mental health issues.

Calls for bail reform ramped up following the murder of Ontario Provincial Police Const. Greg Pierzchala, 28, on Dec. 27. One of the suspects is a repeat offender who was released on bail.

All of Canada’s 13 premiers signed a joint letter in January urging the government to review the bail system.

In March, Justice Minister David Lametti met with his provincial counterparts and said at a March 10 press conference, that the government would move forward with a “targeted reform” of Canada’s bail system. “The reforms will address the challenges posed by repeat violent offenders, as well as offences committed involving the use of firearms and other weapons,” Lametti said.

Cross-Border Cooperation on Guns

Mendicino also spoke on The West Block of recent meetings with U.S. law enforcement to strengthen collaboration on taking illegal guns off the streets.

He said the majority of guns used to commit crimes in Canada illegally enter Canada from the United States. The statistics on how many vary, he said, with estimates of 50–75 percent or higher.

Cross-border collaboration will be strengthened by a recently updated memorandum of understanding between law enforcement agencies on both sides., Mendicino said. They will share more intelligence to better trace illegal guns, and they will make use of new technology to trace so-called “ghost guns.”

Ghost guns are made with 3D printing technology. “This is fast, it’s cheap, and it’s used by gangs on both sides of the border,” he said. Law enforcement can now trace the origin of the material used to make the guns, Mendicino said.

Gun Buy-Back

Mendicino confirmed the government does not have a precise plan to buy back the assault-style weapons it has banned.

The government recently entered an agreement with the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association to identify where such weapons are currently being held by firearm businesses, leading to the buy-back of 11,000 weapons.

But as for the buy-back from individual gun-owners that the government is aiming for, Mendicino said they’re still working on the approach. “This is a program without precedent,” he said.

They face opposition from some provinces, including Alberta and Saskatchewan. “We’re going to work with provinces and territories,” Mendicino said.

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