Neither those in favour of tougher bail rules nor those against them think much of proposed reform
New legislation may soon make getting bail tougher for repeat violent offenders.
Canada's justice minister introduced new legislation Tuesday targeting serious offenders but both people who think we need tougher rules and those who don't say the changes aren’t likely to work.
Currently, the onus is on prosecutors to prove why an accused should be denied bail.
Under the proposed Bill C-48, that's flipped and the onus is on the accused to prove why they deserve it.
"These proposed reforms signal that repeat violent offenders that pose a risk to community safety should not be released while awaiting trial," Justice Minister David Lametti said.
The rules will apply if, during the previous five years, the accused has a violent-crime conviction involving a weapon.
Public safety has been on the agenda in Alberta's election.
The UCP's Brian Jean calls the new legislation a failure.
"By the federal government sending a few more words down the pipeline to judges, I don't think it's going to do the job. We need to keep these people in jail and we need to take it more seriously than what the federal government is doing," Jean said.
Meanwhile, the NDP's Ifran Sabir is taking a wait-and-see position.
"We'll be watching these developments very keenly and carefully and we'll have more to say once that legislation is passed and the new system is in place," Sabir said.
Calls for reforms have grown louder after several high-profile killings -- most recently, the murder of a 35-year-old woman and her 11-year-old child in Edmonton.
Police shot and killed the man they say is responsible but pointed out he was released on bail a month earlier after being charged with assault.
Criminal defence lawyer Jim Lutz says keeping more people behind bars for longer won't solve the problem.
"I think there's no possible way that this ill-conceived legislation will have the desired effect," Lutz said.
Lutz also points out the financial burden of the federal law falls on provinces, which pay to build and operate remand centres, which are already over capacity and would be even more jammed if bail is harder to get.
"That seems so grossly unfair, both not only to the corrections officers but to the individuals who are stuck being triple-bunked for a lot of cases. Someone's got to figure out a solution (that) isn't putting more people in jail," Lutz said,
Bill C-48 would also make it tougher for repeat domestic abusers to get bail and several firearms offences would require the accused to make a case for release.
But Lutz says if the bill is passed as written, he expects it to face vigorous opposition through the courts.