Conservatives push to recall public safety committee over homicides by people on bail
Conservatives push to recall public safety committee over homicides by people on bail

The Conservatives are looking to bring the House of Commons public safety committee back early from its summer break over documents the Tories say reveal over 250 individuals were charged with homicide while out on bail in 2022.

Conservative public safety critic Frank Caputo, a former crown prosecutor, spearheaded the motion to recall the committee to have it reexamine the Liberals’ changes to the criminal code.

According to a letter to the chair of the House of Commons, the documents revealed that 256 individuals were charged with homicide while on bail or conditional release in 2022, about five each week, accounting for nearly 30% of murder charges that year.

“The pattern of deadly crimes being committed while on bail is clear, present, and frightening,” said the letter, signed by multiple Conservative MPs. “The deadly crime wave unfolding under Justin Trudeau has made Canada unrecognizable to many, and now criminals are murdering Canadians while out on bail.”

The signatories say the crime wave is a “direct result” of the Trudeau government’s “soft on crime, catch and release policies” brought about by Bill C-75 and Bill C-5, which passed in 2019 and 2022, respectively. The bills repealed mandatory minimum sentences and made bail more accessible to criminals.

“After nine years of these Liberal policies, it has given way to a 39% increase in violent crime, a 43% increase in murders, a 101% increase in violent gun crimes, a 108% increase in gang murders and now nearly 30% of individuals charged with murder in 2022 were out on bail or another form of release,” the Conservatives’ letter said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said the Conservatives are misrepresenting the number.

“That number includes more than just bail and conditional release,” the spokesperson said. “In 2022, 256 people were charged with homicides while under correctional supervision (i.e., in custody (remand or sentenced) or under community supervision (bail or probation)). This represents 33.8% of all 757 people charged with homicides that year.”

This would include people charged with homicide while incarcerated. The Conservatives declined to provide further details about their letter and the numbers cited.

The Tories criticized recent Liberal attempts to fix the bail system, such as Bill C-48, the government’s bail reform act, which they said was “insufficient.”

The act amended the criminal code, requiring that courts “consider if an accused person has any previous convictions involving violence” and prove the safety and security of the community had at least been considered before giving out bail.

It would also create a reverse onus for anyone charged with certain serious offences. This would require accused offenders to prove that they should be released on bail rather than forcing prosecutors to prove that they shouldn’t be, as is the norm in other cases.

“The bill does not go far enough to ensure dangerous, repeat offenders stay behind bars. Liberal changes have caused a problem, and their legislative changes cannot solve them when the government has the necessary tools at its disposal,” the letter said. “Continuing on this course will only make the violent crime and bail problems worse.”

The justice department spokesperson said it was the courts, and not the government, who are responsible for bail decisions.

“If a person is charged with an offence that is subject to a reverse onus, then it is the court, following a bail hearing, that must determine whether to detain them in custody or release them while they await their trial,” the spokesperson said. “Ultimately, it is the court’s decision whether detention or release is appropriate.”

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc did not respond to True North’s requests for comment.

“This data shows that the Liberals cannot pretend they didn’t know about the devastation and chaos created by their catch-and-release policies,” the party said in a media release. “Despite this, Trudeau’s justice minister has tried to gaslight Canadians, saying that the crime wave only exists in Canadians’ heads.”

Conservatives were referring to Justice Minister Arif Virani, saying it was “empirically unlikely” that Canada was getting less safe in an interview as the minister “gaslighting Canadians.

Virani did not respond to True North’s request for comment before the deadline.

To pass their motion, the Conservatives would need support from another party. The NDP and Bloc Québécois were not immediately available for comment.

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