Conservatives call for public safety committee to be dismissed over bail killings
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Conservatives call for public safety committee to be dismissed over bail killings

Conservatives call for public safety committee to be dismissed over bail killings
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Conservatives are seeking to call the House of Commons public safety committee back into session for an early resumption from its summer recess over documents the Tories say reveal more than 250 people were charged with homicide while on bail in 2022.

Conservative public safety critic Frank Caputo, a former Crown prosecutor, spearheaded the motion to recall the committee to review the Liberal changes to the Criminal Code.

According to a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons, the documents revealed that 256 people were charged with homicide while on bail or parole in 2022, or about five per week, representing nearly 30% of murder charges that year.

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

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 Those bills repealed mandatory minimum sentences and made bail more accessible to criminals.

“After nine years of these Liberal policies, this has resulted in a 39% increase in violent crime, a 43% increase in murders, a 101% increase in violent gun crime, a 108% increase in gang-related murders and now nearly 30% of those charged with murder in 2022 were on bail or some other form of release,” the Conservative letter states.

A Justice Department spokesman said the Conservatives are distorting the figure.

“This figure does not just include bail and conditional release,” the spokesperson said. “In 2022, 256 people were charged with homicide while under correctional supervision (i.e., in custody (prevention or sentence) or under community supervision (bail or probation)). This represents 33.8% of the 757 people charged with homicide that year.”

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

The Conservatives have criticized recent Liberal attempts to reform the bail system, such as Bill C-48, the government’s bail reform bill, as “insufficient.”

The law amended the criminal code, requiring courts to “consider whether a defendant has a prior conviction for violence” and prove that the safety of the community was at least considered before granting bail.

The bill would also introduce a reverse onus for anyone charged with certain serious crimes. That would require defendants to prove that they should be released on bail rather than forcing prosecutors to prove that they should not be, as is the norm in other cases.

“The bill does not go far enough to ensure that dangerous and repeat offenders remain behind bars. The Liberals’ changes created a problem, and their legislative changes cannot fix it when the government has the tools it needs,” the letter reads. “Continuing down this path will only make violent crime and bail issues worse.”

The Justice Department spokesman said it was the courts, not the government, that were responsible for bail decisions.

“If a person is charged with a reverse onus offence, it is up to the court, following a bail hearing, to determine whether to detain or release them pending trial,” the spokesperson said. “Ultimately, it is up to the court to decide 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 were unaware of the devastation and chaos created by their catch-and-release policy,” the party said in a news release. “Yet Trudeau’s justice minister has attempted to manipulate Canadians by claiming that the crime wave only exists in Canadians’ heads.”

The Conservatives were referring to Justice Minister Arif Virani saying it was “empirically unlikely” that Canada was becoming less safe in an interview because the minister was “manipulating Canadians.”

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

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